‘Street Scene’ takes look at hard life

June 4, 2014

opera18sm opera25smA gritty look at life in an immigrant neighborhood in New York in 1946 will come to life as the Bryan College Opera Theatre presents Kurt Weill’s “Street Scene” on Saturday, February 25.

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Rudd Auditorium, and there is no admission charge.

From left, Caitlin Hawkins, Kelly Miller, and Randy Bright rehearse
a scene from ‘Street Scene.’
“This American opera deals with a time when life moved at a slower pace and everyone knows everything going on in each other’s households,” Assistant Professor of Music Kim Keck said. “Each family depicted had come to the United States anticipating the American dream, but life hadn’t worked out like that for them.”

The opera focuses on the Maurrant family – a mother, father and two children – and their neighbors. The father “isn’t the nicest husband in the way he talks to his wife and doesn’t support her,” Mrs. Keck said. “He expects her to raise the children and keep everything perfect at home, but she can’t because they are poor.”

As it tells a dark story, it offers a cautionary tale, she said. “The more I’ve studied it, the more my heart is broke for our world. It makes you realize how many people are struggling in situations like this, and what a difference Jesus Christ could make in their lives.”

From left, Natalie Hughes, Mariana Sterne, and Alexis Landry
pass along some neighborhood gossip. From an academic standpoint, she said the opera is a perfect vehicle for accomplished singers in the leading roles to students early in their performing careers. “Some of our seniors have really worked hard and are ready for the leading roles. But “Street Scene” also gives practical experience to younger singers. I wanted to pick a piece that had more than just good roles for seniors so everyone has an opportunity to grow.

Randy Bright and Caitlin Hawkins, both seniors from Knoxville, will sing the roles of Mr. and Mrs. Maurrant. Kelly Miller, a senior from Barrington, Ill., and Michael Keck, a seventh grader from Dayton, will play their children, Rose and Willy. Matt Albin, a senior from Wright, Wy., will play Sam Kaplan, Rose’s love interest. Alexis Landry, a junior from Appomattox, Va., Natalie Hughes, a junior from Chattanooga, and Mariana Sterne, a junior from Alexandria, Va., will sing the roles of Mrs. Olsen, Mrs. Fiorentino, and Mrs. Jones, the neighborhood gossips.

For this first full-length opera production, Sally Powell of Dayton is the accompanist, and the set is designed by Assistant Professor and Theatre Fellow Jared Cole.