Nine UNC Charlotte music students will join the cast of Carlisle Floyd’s opera, Susannah, in a production presented through a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College’s Opera Theatre program. Performances will take place April 1-3 in the Halton Theater on the main campus of Central Piedmont.
The voice students – Nicholas Andruzzi, Sarah Freeman, Kathryn Goretzka, MacKenzie Hall, Sophia Marmolejos, DeLenn Rumbolo, Christian Souza, Zach Voigt, and Caleb Wilson – are enrolled in the Department of Music Opera Workshop program, directed by Professor of Voice Brian Arreola.
“It’s a great opportunity for our students,” Arreola said. “It’s almost like singing with a professional company. The level of production and musical value that Central Piedmont’s Opera Theatre program brings to it is probably unparalleled among community colleges. It’s really, really a high level.”
Founded years ago by Central Piedmont voice professor Rebecca Cook-Carter, the Opera Theatre program integrates professional and pre-professional artists with college students in productions that include full sets and costumes and a professional orchestra.
“It’s a great benefit to our students just to be on stage with professionals of varying levels,” said Arreola, adding that the students learn so much from the rigorous rehearsal schedule, in which sessions last as long as three hours, and from singing in the large performance space – almost three times the size of the Anne R. Belk Theater in Robinson Hall.
Composed by Floyd in the 1950s, Susannah has become one of the most performed of all American Operas. Loosely based on the Apocryphal Biblical story of Susannah and the Elders, the opera explores lust, gossip, hypocrisy, and ultimately a heroine’s courage in a small Southern town.
Caleb Wilson, a tenor, has a leading role in the production as Susannah’s suitor, Little Bat McLean. Nicholas Andruzzi, Christian Souza, and Zach Voigt, who are all performing as elders of the town church, and DeLenn Rumbolo and Kathryn Goretzka, as elders’ wives, have supporting roles. MacKenzie Hall, Sophia Marmolejos, and Sarah Freeman are singing in the opera chorus.
Conducted by Dr. Alan Yamamoto, who teaches at both UNC Charlotte and Central Piedmont, the opera orchestra will include UNC Charlotte music faculty Mira Frisch and Elizabeth Sullivan and music students Ryan Comley, Lincoln Gaskins, and Eric Kennedy.
The production of Susannah is part of Central Piedmont’s Sensoria festival. For details about the performances and to purchase tickets, please visit the Central Piedmont Performing Arts website.