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BWW Interviews : Shepherd University to Feature an OPERA DOUBLE FEATURE

The students of the Shepherd University Music Department will premiere an Opera Double Feature, featuring one comedic romance and one tragic romance, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Opening February 13, the Opera Double Feature will included Dido and Aeneas, directed by Dr. Robert Tudor, and La Serva Padrona, directed by Dr. Bobb Robinson. Both operas are musically directed by Dr. Erik Jones. Dido and Aeneas, a tragedy, tells the story of Dido, a queen and both her love for enemy soldier, Aeneas, and her despair when he leaves her. La Serva Padrona, a comedy, features a clever maid and manservant conspiring to trick the master of the house into marrying the maid so that she can become the wealthy mistress of the house.

While preparing for the Opera Double Feature, students had different vocal and physical challenges to work on to convey their characters.

"The most challenging aspect of working on the character Vespone was definitely becoming a mute. Not being able to express feeling through words and only through motions is harder that it sounds!" said Henry DeBuchananne on playing manservant Vespone in La Serva Padrona.

"I found the movement [aspect] of being The Sorceress very difficult. As someone who is not very coordinated, the slow, precise dance-like movement was very difficult. But our director, Dr. Tudor, just makes the whole experience a great time! He makes you want to totally encompass your character and do your best to show the story" said Hannah Wardell on playing the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas.

"This opera has been such a great experience for me. It's challenged both my acting and singing as one of the most demanding roles I've ever performed. I've had so much fun pushing myself and getting to sing some truly beautiful music. I am so grateful for this opportunity. We have such a talented cast with such unique voices and a variety of performance experience. It's been wonderful watching this show come together" said Jordan Bushong-Taylor, who plays Dido in Dido and Aeneas

Though typical operas tend to run longer, normally two to three hours, a unique aspect about the Opera Double Feature at Shepherd is a brief running time and great contrast between the two works performed.

"This production as a double feature allows us to combine both the tragedy and comedy that opera can offer and we are able to showcase two different period settings back to back. We have such a creative production team and they come up with ideas that inspire and excite the whole cast" said Bushong- Taylor.

"This opera is different because it is a double feature, so we will have two operas showing. One of the operas is a tragedy and based on the Greek story of Dido and Aeneas. The other opera is an intermezzo opera buffa or a funny opera. The two operas are completely different from one another, so the change of pace should keep the audience engaged and exited to learn more" said Wardell.

After months of preparation and rehearsal, the cast can't wait to display the Opera Double Feature for audiences this Valentine's Day weekend.

"If you've never seen an opera, how can you know what you're missing? This production gives you such a varied experience and it is a fantastic introduction to the world of opera" said Bushong-Taylor.

" If you have never seen an opera before and would like to see what they are, this would be the time to come. Both of the operas are rather short and you'll also have that nice change of pace in the middle" said Wardell.

"It is a perfect way to spend Valentines Day weekend! Two love stories in one night? Who wouldn't love that?" added DeBuchananne.

The Dido and Aeneas cast also features Mary Sullivan as Belina, James Patrick O'Grady as Aeneas, Jaime Friedel as Second Woman, Bethany Pryzbocki as First Witch, Emily Reinhardt as Second Witch, Cullen Byers as First Sailor and Julie Wyant as Spirit. The Ensemble is comprised of members of the Shepherd University Women's Camerata and Men's Choir. The La Serva Pedrona cast features Ross Tamaccio as Uberto and Madeline Zyas as Serpina.

Tickets for the Opera Double Feature are $10 for general admission, $5 for Shepherd University faculty, staff, alumni and senior citizens and free for current Shepherd University students. Advance reservations are not accepted and all tickets are sold at the box office on a first-come, first-serve basis one hour prior to the performance. For more information, please call 304-876-5555 or visit

Photo Credit: Shepherd University Department of Music

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