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Collaboration brings music and drama to Brenau in one night
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For the first time, the International Opera Center at Brenau University will join forces with Clayton State University for Brenau’s spring concert.

The collaboration between the two universities will bring an opera and a play to Pearce Auditorium on Friday.

The two groups have been preparing for months and will perform “Riders to the Sea,” a classic Irish opera by Ralph Vaughan Williams, along with the play of the same name written by J.M. Synge. The night of entertainment begins with a short opera, “The Telephone.”

“The opera (“Riders to the Sea”) is one that I have loved for a number of years and which I produced about 25 years ago, in Israel of all places,” said William Fred Scott, director of Brenau’s International Opera Center and artist in residence. “It’s a beautiful 35-minute work which is essentially for women’s voices; there is one male voice in the whole piece. So it seemed like that would be ideal for Brenau University, which is essentially female students.”

The night will include a performance of the one-act 1904 drama by Synge, “Riders to the Sea,” and will be followed with a performance of the 1927 opera is based on the play.

“It’s considered a rather landmark Irish play; it is a very atmospheric and brooding story of what happens when you live by the sea, especially if the sea is treacherous,” Scott said.

The evening’s opener, “The Telephone,” is a 1937 comic opera by Italian-born American composer Gian Carlo Menotti.

Operatic performers include professionals and students. Contralto Laurie Swann, a 1983 Brenau graduate, will sing the lead part of Maurya, soprano Robin Brackett, a Brenau senior will sing the role of Cathleen and Brenau sophomore Christy Harris also will perform.

Coloratura soprano Cassandra Gabrell, a 2007 Brenau graduate student, is Lucy in “The Telephone.”

“She is slightly obsessed with her telephone,” Gabrell said. “It is based in the 1950s, so she gets really excited when anyone calls. She’s very Marilyn Monroe-ish; she wears pink a lot, her apartment is very girly and a happy-go-lucky girl who is kind of flighty actually.

“The role itself stretches the imagination for me as an actress and as a singer, the range is very different and has a very different style.”

The opera and the play will be repeated at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Clayton State Theatre on the Morrow campus. Tickets for that show are $5.

Clayton State Theatre artistic director Phillip DePoy will direct both performances of the Synge play.

“I have been mentioning this project of mine to a number of stage director friends of mine and Phillip jumped on it,” Scott said. “I think it is good for us to have collaborations with schools from all over the area any way ... it’s a good reaching-out tool.”

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