UNA Brings Masterpiece to the Stage


By Carole Maynard


FLORENCE –  MasterpieceThat is the word Dr. Terrance Brown, director of opera at UNA, uses to describe Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohéme,” UNA Opera’s spring 2017 production.

“‘La Bohéme’ is known as the epitome of operatic culture,” said Brown, “and this is our time to tackle this masterpiece.”

The full-scale opera, which will be performed in Norton Auditorium Friday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 23, at 2:00 p.m., will feature dramatic sets and costumes, an orchestra and a children’s chorus. It will also be performed in Italian with projected supertitles.

“It was imperative to present this opera in Italian,” said Brown, “so our audience could be exposed to a different culture and to, in turn, promote student learning.”

The opera tells the story of young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Today’s audience is more familiar with the Broadway musical “Rent,” which is based on “La Bohéme,” but the emotions present in the original opera are still present today.

“The story is full of pathos, comedy, anger, sadness, happiness and frustration,” said Brown. “This range of emotions is present in the human psyche, thereby giving the audience a connection to the story.”

Helping UNA Opera tell the story will be an orchestra made up of professional-level players from Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Nashville and Huntsville. They will be joined by a children’s chorus comprised of students from Muscle Shoals Middle School.

“Our team works tirelessly to make opera not so scary for our audiences,” said Dr. Tiffany Bostic-Brown, UNA’s director of vocal studies and artistic director for UNA Opera. “We work hard to let the community get to know our singers and our program. Audiences are more dedicated to those they know and watch grow into their artistry.”

And the value of art is the reason these professors and students continue to perform.

“The arts are vital to our way of life,” said Brown. “They preserve our history through song, word, painting and creativity. Every effort we can make to propel the arts forward, we should. The preservation of our culture depends on it.”

Bostic-Brown agrees. “Art exists to express human emotion when other platforms limit us,” she said. “Singing, of course, is very relatable because it is purely the human body exercising all its capabilities through voice and mind.”

Adult tickets for UNA Opera’s production of “La Bohéme” are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Student tickets are $5. Tickets may be purchased at una.edu/music, at the Lindsey Theatre Box Office (MWF, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and at the door. Alan Flowers will give a pre-performance talk in the UNA choir room on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. and on April 23 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information, call Carole Maynard, communication and events coordinator for UNA’s Department of Music, at (256)765-5122, or visit una.edu/music.

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