NDSU Opera Teaches Us All a Little About ‘Patience’

Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic is still relatable today

For this year’s spring production, the NDSU Opera presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s satirical “Patience” Feb. 15 and 17.

The story unfolds in a small village, where the dragoon guards’ usual routine of returning from fighting to the arms of the upper-class women of the town is disrupted by the introduction of a poet. Vocal performance major Tyrie Williams, who plays Colonel Calverley, explained, “They are used to going off to fight and coming back to the women of the village. Now they are all in love with this one poet, but the poet is only interested in the milkmaid Patience.”

Of course, the tale of slighted love doesn’t end there, as Williams continued: “Patience doesn’t care for the poet. Eventually, another poet shows up and is also in love with Patience. This time, Patience reciprocates his feelings.”

“Each generation suffers at the hands of some pretty ridiculous trends, and the folks of the late 19th century were no exception.” 

Tessa Hartl, “Patience” 

Tessa Hartl plays the role of this simple milkmaid. Of her character, Hartl shared, “Patience the milkmaid represents both the innocence of youth and a voice of reason when everyone else is wrapped up in their drama and trends (even though for a little while she becomes the very center of this drama).”

As a vocal performance major with an emphasis in opera, Hartl said she considers her gained experience with NDSU Opera is invaluable. “You go in, sing a piece for the voice faculty and leave knowing that you have a pretty good chance of being accepted.” Hartl explained a thick skin is needed to deal with rejection, especially in the world of opera before the age of 30. NDSU’s friendlier atmosphere allows young vocalists to gain experience and the opportunity to mature their voices.

Esteemed guest director Frederic Heringes received high praise from the cast. “Fred is all about using the feeling and energy from the crowd, as well as what is going on in the story to help you interpret your lines in the moment. He doesn’t believe in just learning the parts an exact way, and I really enjoy that.” Williams explained. Hartl agreed, adding, “I admire his attention to detail and how he can remain so true to an opera’s history all the while staging it in a way that breathes fresh life into it.”

Both Williams and Hartl said they believed the opera is still relatable to audiences today. “Each generation suffers at the hands of some pretty ridiculous trends, and the folks of the late 19th century were no exception when it came to a liberal and artistic movement called ‘aestheticism’ that rankled stuffy British society,” Hartl explained. “However, the heart of the opera is in everyone’s struggle to find and understand the true meaning of love. Of course, each character comes to their answer by different means, just as we all do.”

For those on the fence about going to see an opera, Williams and Hartl both recommended that you to give it a try. “You can’t really say you don’t like it until you at least try it once,” Williams pointed out.

Hartl said she believes the opera would also appeal to fans of Monty Python, as the humor is in a similar vein: “This opera contains no shortage of high-energy shenanigans that I think still appeal to modern audiences. ‘Patience’ is full of catchy tunes and British silliness, which spans from making a mockery of authority to a tangled web of romance, and no matter where your fancy lies on that spectrum, it can be assured that there is something for everyone in this show.” Hartl humorously added, “Plus, you can totally tout your sophistication to people because you just went to an opera. “

If You Go
What: “Patience”
When: Friday, Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.
Where: Festival Concert Hall

For tickets, visit ndsu.showare.com or call the box office at 701.231.7969.

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