By Emily Delaney
Butler University’s Lyric Theatre presented a variety of opera scenes in this year’s annual recital at Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall on Nov. 11 and 12.
Directed by John Schmid and W.P. Sterneman III, the Lyric Theatre is made up of students in the Jordan College of Fine Arts who audition for a place in the program at the beginning of each school year.
Students were ecstatic to hear that this year’s performance was to be directed by Schmid, who is also the chorus master for the Indianapolis Opera, senior Jackie Gredell, a member of the Lyric Theatre, said.
“Many Butler students have been employed by Schmid and have gotten invaluable professional experience being in the chorus for the operas. So this has been a great way for the music students to get to know someone in the professional music world,” Gredell said.
This year’s auditions were announced through the voice faculty on campus and all interested students were welcome to audition. Gredell said the audition was a meaningful experience for her because of the immediate feedback she received from Schmid about the delivery of her audition performance.
“From day one, it was a learning experience, and that’s how it’s been all semester,” she said.
The program is an opportunity for students to enhance their stage presence and develop skills in effective character development.
“The various scenes from the operas, operettas and musicals that were presented in the recital were focused specifically on inner character development,” Schmid said.
This inner development was portrayed to the audience through the use of space and time.
“His goal for the semester was to have us make decisions about what our characters were feeling internally, and learn how to express those decisions in a way that the audience could understand,” Gredell said.
Beginning with two scenes from the French opera, “Carmen,” the recital showcased the powerful talent of Butler’s music students. The second scene, “Couplets (Toreador),” was an ensemble piece featuring strong individual characters and a powerful group performance. The male lead, Escamillo, played by junior Andy Riehle, provided a forceful presence on stage and was supported by the energy and powerful voices of his fellow cast mates.
Following the scenes from “Carmen,” Lyric Theatre member and freshman Jordana Kozyreff performed a solo, singing “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” a piece from the American musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” This piece, along with the subsequent performances from shows like “Phantom of the Opera,” “Secret Garden” and “Old Maid and the Thief,” expressed the importance of a diverse selection of musical genres within the program.
There was not always a clear indication as to why each piece was selected for the performance, but there was a definite focus on the importance of developing skills through a widely varied program, according to sophomore Lyric Theatre member Max Wellman.
With the hard work and dedication of Schmid and his students, the Lyric Theatre recital was an outstanding performance.
“Having the opportunity to work with Schmid was the highlight of this semester’s performance,” Gredell said. “The entire semester was a learning process which enhanced the student’s abilities to interpret their character’s feelings and portray those feelings in a meaningful way.”
“He has made it clear on a daily basis that he is here for the students,” Gredell said. “He wants us to succeed, to be better musicians and to learn as much as we possibly can.”