GC students bring new life to Mozart’s comic opera ‘Figaro’

(L-R) Esra Heisey as Antonio, Ben Ganger as Count Almaviva, Paul Zehr as Figaro, Miranda Earnhart as Countess Almaviva, and Sadie Gustafson-Zook as Susanna. (Photo by Brett Conrad/Goshen College)

(L-R) Esra Heisey as Antonio, Ben Ganger as Count Almaviva, Paul Zehr as Figaro, Miranda Earnhart as Countess Almaviva, and Sadie Gustafson-Zook as Susanna. (Photo by Brett Conrad/Goshen College)

Spring Mainstage opera: “The Marriage of Figaro”
Date and time: March 28, 29 and April 4 at 8 p.m.; March 30 and April 6 at 3 p.m. (ASL interpreted)
Location: Goshen College Umble Center
Cost: $12 general, $7 students/seniors/GC employees. Tickets can be purchased online at www.goshen.edu/tickets, or through the Welcome Center by at (574) 535-7566 or welcomecenter@goshen.edu. Tickets can also be purchased at the Umble Center box office one hour before the show. 

Disguises, cross-dressing, mistaken identities and people jumping out of windows are all par for the course in Mozart’s energetic, light-hearted romp through the day of a wedding ceremony.

The Goshen College theater and music departments will collaborate to present the composer’s comic opera “The Marriage of Figaro” in Umble Center on March 28, 29 and April 4 at 8 p.m., and March 30 and April 6 at 3 p.m. (ASL interpreted).

Raising the issues of power, privilege, class conflict, love and friendship, this fully staged 18th century comic opera, sung in both English and Italian (fully captioned), is set in 21st century New York City.

“We’ve tried to make it as current-day as possible, with the addition of cell phones and TV screens to the set and character interplay,” said Deb Brubaker, professor of music and stage director for the opera. “The societal situation at that time is strikingly similar to what is happening in the world today – political structures continue to benefit the upper classes. For this reason, we have chosen to set the play in modern-day New York City, as opposed to Seville, Spain, to highlight how even today, society is still wrestling with old issues.”

“The Marriage of Figaro” continues the plot of “The Barber of Seville” several years later, and recounts a single “day of madness” (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva. Having given Figaro a job as head of his servant-staff, Almaviva is now persistently trying to obtain the favors of Figaro’s bride-to-be, Susanna. He keeps finding excuses to delay the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for that very day. Figaro, Susanna and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. He responds by trying to compel Figaro legally to marry a woman old enough to be his mother, but it turns out at the last minute that she is really his mother. Through Figaro’s and Susanna’s clever manipulations, the Count’s love for his Countess is finally restored.

“Whether this is the first time to an opera or fiftieth, the audience will enjoy Mozart’s infectiously playful music, which changes on a dime depending on the emotion of the text and which crazy character is delivering it,” said Scott Hochstetler, associate professor of music and musical director for the opera.

The cast of 11 students includes: Paul Zehr, a junior from Carthage, N.Y., as Figaro; Sadie Gustafson-Zook, a first-year from Goshen, as Susanna; Aaron Graber, a first-year from Los Gatos, Calif., as Bartolo; Morgan Short, a first-year from Goshen, as Marcellina; Rachel Mast, a senior from Corvallis, Ore., as Cherubino; Ben Ganger, a sophomore from Goshen, as Count Almaviva; Miranda Earnhart, a sophomore from Milford, Ind., as Countess Almaviva; Martin Flowers, a sophomore from Nappanee, Ind., as Basilio; Esra Heisey, a first-year from Goshen, as Antonio; Stefan Baumgartner, a junior from Goshen, as Curzio; and Cecilia Lapp Stoltzfus, a first-year from Mount Rainier, Md., as Barbarina.

The chorus includes first-years Breanna Bloom, Jim Bontrager, Brianne Brenneman, Isaiah Friesen, Bryn Godshall, Laura Hochstetler, Andrew Pauls, Malcolm Stovall and Maggie Weaver; sophomore Blake Shetler; juniors Stefan Baumgartner, Jacob Greaser, Alisa Murray and Brody Thomas; and seniors Michael Darby and Cara Paden.

The production team includes Associate Professor of Music Scott Hochstetler, music director; Professor of Music Deb Brubaker, stage director; Andrew Moeggenborg, technical director and set designer; Assistant Professor of Theater Tamera Izlar, producer; Angie Troyer, assistant technical director; Peter Meyer-Reimer, stage manager; Ally Medelline, assistant stage manager; Riley Woods, light designer and operator; Sarah Lake-Rayburn, costume designer; Nick Peebles, sound designer; Christina Hofer, props designer; Breanna Bloom, hair and makeup designer; Brett Conrad, master carpenter; Ben Ganger, master electrician; Robert Lerch, sound board operator.

The orchestra includes Garrett Ahlgrim (violin), Leah Amstutz (oboe), Philip Bontrager (viola), Kendall Friesen (clarinet), Stephen Graber (clarinet), Steven Ingle (bassoon), Vince Kurtz (violin), Leah Landes (trumpet), Robert Martin (bass), Reuben Ng (cello), Peter Paetkau (violin), Madeline Ruth (viola), Jacob Shetler (timpani), Sam Smucker (violin), Becky Snider (flute), Max Stauffer (cello), Jorge Abreu Toyens (violin), Wade Troyer (trumpet), Emily Vogt (horn), Ashley Westra (bassoon), Matt Wimmer (cello), Ardys Woodward (flute), Bryan Yoder (viola), Erin Yoder (horn), Josh Yoder (violin) and Madeleine Yoder (oboe)

The cost is $12 general, $7 students/seniors/GC employees. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.goshen.edu/tickets or through the Welcome Center at (574) 535-7566 or welcomecenter@goshen.edu. Tickets can also be purchased at the Umble Center box office one hour before the show. There will be a 10-minute intermission.

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