NDSU Opera Shakes Shakespeare

KIMBERLY HILL | THE SPECTRUM NDSU Opera performers rehearse a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a Shakespearean comic opera.
NDSU Opera performers rehearse a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a Shakespearean comic opera.

Shakespeare and opera may seem hard to handle as one, but NDSU Opera is working magic in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

William Shakespeare’s play takes a musical turn in this production, presented as a comic opera by over 25 students. At its heart, the story is still there – groups of fairies, lovers and handymen intersect each other in a night in the magical woods – but is empowered by some challenging and difficult music highlighting the show.

Getting physical 

Unlike some operas, however, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is not what director Tara Faircloth calls “a park-and-bark.”

In other words, this opera is full of action.

“There’s a lot of violence,” Faircloth said. “At one point, one of the girls jumps on a guy’s back, and he swings her around. There’s chairs thrown about.”

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Faircloth continued, breaks the perception that opera is just standing and singing.

“Most of the time, human beings move around while they talk, and I think the (cast was) surprised and delighted to find out how much I wanted them to (be) physical.”

One of few 

Faircloth, a Georgia native living in Houston, came to be involved with NDSU Opera via Rooth Varland, NDSU’s theater department head. The two have collaborated many times in the past 10 years, landing Faircloth here at NDSU for another opera.

Faircloth is one of few female opera directors in the nation. Opera is an expensive art form, and directing in general, Faircloth said, is a “certain boys’ club.”

“When I was growing up, I didn’t know any female opera directors,” she said. “It historically wasn’t done. But it has changed a lot, I’d say.”

She has met most – if not all – the working, female opera directors in the U.S., and she likes to keep them in the loop when job offers and other opportunities come her way.

“Ultimate ensemble show” 

With 25 principle characters, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is packing power, which is necessary because its music demands it.

Vocally, rhythmically and tonally challenging, Faircloth said, this opera is much more than a Shakespearean text. Operagoers have the plus of the music sung in English, but in Shakespearean language.

The music helps move along a script that may be hard to understand.

“The music sometimes illuminates that,” Faircloth said of the script, “and sometimes I have to say, ‘This sort of fits with what Shakespeare was trying to say.'”

Music students and one theater major (Cody Gerszewski, last seen in “Next to Normal”) comprise the cast, along with a few high schoolers and a young girl.

“It’s been fun working with young singers that are willing to do anything that I want them to do,” Faircloth laughed, adding, “It takes a lot of people to pull (this title) off. It’s the ultimate ensemble show.”

Pulsing with music and racked with action, one thing above all is apparent to this production’s director:

“From the first note of this entire show, you realize that this is an opera like none you’ve ever heard.”


WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: Festival Concert Hall
PRICE: Free for students
MORE INFO: Claim tickets at Reineke 107; 701-231-7969

Leave a Reply