Opera Gala combines opera and musical theater


Mikaela Keener

Johnathan Young, left, and Hillary Herold perform scene at the 2015 Opera Gala Friday.

The Marshall University School of Music and Theatre presented the MU 2015 Opera Gala “From Vienna to Broadway” Friday.
Linda Dobbs, professor of voice and opera, said the annual event is combining opera and musical theater into one show.
“Musical theater is all about storytelling, and the arts are about storytelling,” Dobbs said. “So our program is celebrating music theater, or stories told with music.”
Dobbs said the department performs either a full opera or a collection of scenes from operas each year.
The first half of the gala consisted of scenes from well-known operas such as “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella), “Hansel and Gretel” and “Carmen”. The other half of the production paid tribute to musical theater with scenes from popular shows such as “Showboat.”
Dobbs said people tend to blur the definitions of opera and musical theater.
“Nowadays, even some of the singing that we think of as being operatic has kind of faded into musical theater, but not all of it,” Dobbs said. “When people ask me ‘What’s the difference between opera and musical theater?’ it’s all song. But opera, for the most part, is about the music. It’s about the music line, the tunes that grow with the singer and the orchestra and all that sound. Musical theater is more about the words, and the music is not incidental or as important as the words. More contemporaneously, we think about the words or we think about the feelings that those songs present.”
Dobbs said the purpose of the Opera Gala was to allow the opera students to perform both as soloists and in ensembles.
She also said she incorporated the musical theater numbers into the show so students could perform songs they were familiar with and enjoyed.
Dobbs said the students gained experience performing in the gala helping them as musicians.
“I think our students really enjoy this,” Dobbs said. “And they have a good time, and they are having experience doing what they made. They may be doing this, literally, for their careers and many of them go from here to graduate schools all over the country and that is very satisfying for me, to give them this experience.”
Mikaela Keener can be contacted at keener31@ marshall.edu.