Lamar University Press Logo

Lamar Opera to present ‘La Canterina’


LU’s Hannah Meyer, left, and Christian Jack, warm up their voices before rehearsal for “La Canterina,” Tuesday. Lamar’s Opera Theatre will perform the work Nov. 2-3 in the Rothwell Recital Hall.  UP photo by Noah Dawlearn
LU’s Hannah Meyer, left, and Christian Jack, warm up their voices before rehearsal for
“La Canterina,” Tuesday. Lamar’s Opera Theatre will perform the work Nov. 2-3 in the Rothwell Recital Hall.
UP photo by Noah Dawlearn

Lamar Opera Theatre will present “La Canterina,” Nov. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rothwell Recital Hall. There will be a preview performance for students, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. All performances are free and open to the public.

The two-act comic opera, written by Joseph Haydn, takes a look at Gasparina, a songstress, and her mother, Apollonia, who are skilled in con artistry. They target Gasparina’s male fans and followers in order to take advantage of them financially. Throughout the opera, Gasparina finds herself juggling two love interests — Don Pelagio, her main benefactor and voice teacher, and Don Ettore, a rich merchant’s son.

“‘La Canterina’ was intended to be a composition to be played in between the acts of a serious opera, so pretty much an intermission piece,” Serdar Ilban, associate professor of music, voice and opera, said. “The story of the opera is still very universal and may be attractive to today’s audience.”

Ilban said that he chose the piece specifically for his beginner opera students because of its accessibility. 

“It’s their first exposure to acting and singing together, so I wanted to choose something that was going to challenge them, and, at the same time, be enjoyable for them to learn — andenjoyable for the audience to watch,” he said.

There are four arias for each individual character, and two big ensembles — quartettes — in the show, Ilban said. 

“I enjoyed every musical number, to a certain extent, but (especially) the number where the comedy is revealed, like the voice lesson number where Don Pelagio and Gasparina basically are singing together and her mother constantly interferes with the lesson,” he said. “That is one of the funniest scenes in the entire show, and I enjoyed directing it.”

The opera will be sung in Italian, with projected subtitles, and with an English dialogue, Ilban said.

“What we do, here at Lamar, is we try to perform all operas in their original languages,” he said. “I don’t believe in, just for the benefit of the audience, translating the opera and performing it in English, because it loses a lot of its musical characteristics that way.

“It’s also a disservice to our students to not learn the operas in the original languages.”

Christian Jack, Norfolk, Va. sophomore, said that singing in Italian is a lot of fun.

“As classical singers, we have three main languages that we sing in— Italian, German and French, which all have certain aspects that make them unique,” he said. “Italian is personally my favorite, because it’s a very lyrical and flowing language, so I really enjoy it.”

Ilban said that opera is important because it expresses feelings that one can’t express by simply talking.

“There has to be a moment in the show where the characters are propelled to sing instead of continuing to speak,” he said. “It is basically telling us there are more heightened emotions that can only be expressed through singing — that please the singer and the audience at the same time.”

Jack plays Don Ettore, an entitled merchant’s son who is trying to win Gasparina’s affections through gifts.

“While growing up, my parents taught me to really take care of my own stuff and not just live off of them,” he said. “So, doing this role definitely has a more whiny, pretentious attitude than I’m used to, but also a lot of fun to do.”

Lauren Wynn, Alvin senior, plays the young songstress.

“Becoming Gasparina was difficult for me, because I’m more of a reserved type of personality, and she is really out there, flirtatious, and has the men all over her,” she said. “At the beginning it was uncomfortable, but I’m getting more used to the role and it’s better.”

Ilban said that the cast is wonderful.

“Despite the fact that this is their first experience on operatic stage, trying to sing and learn how to act at the same time, I think they’re doing a very respectable job,” he said. “I’m hoping that by the time we get to our performances, it will be at a level where our audiences will appreciate it, too.” 

Ilban said that the no. 1 goal for the production is the students’ learning experience.

“This is not a competition, and it’s not, ‘Who runs the fastest gets the medal,’” he said. “This is just their first exposure to operatic stage, and the most important aspect of it is to learn from the process before moving on to more challenging productions.

“Each time that I’m able to put a production together with younger students, I not only live my dream as a director, but also live vicariously through them. To a certain extent, it keeps me young.”

For more information, call 880-7181 or email

Story by Vy Nguyen, UP staff writer

Category: News