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Volume 71, Issue 77, Friday, January 27, 2006

Life & Arts

Moores kicks off with tales of love, laughter

Both operas star the 'right singers' in the lead, opera director says

The Daily Cougar

If you love all the passion of Desperate Housewives and all the intrigue of Lost, then you won't want to miss the Houston premieres of two of the world's most renowned operas as the Moores Opera Center brings to the stage its productions of Flight and The Turk in Italy.

Flight, sung in original English with subtitles, was inspired by the same true incident that Stephen Spielberg's The Terminal was based upon, though the opera was written before the film. Centered on a refugee trapped in an airport terminal, the opera delves into the lives of those who encounter him and his magic stone.

"A lot of events happen, including the birth of a baby onstage. You will see a 747 take off and land and the effects of a terrible storm," director Buck Ross said. "It's alternately funny, touching and mystical. People spend time doing what they always do: talk, worry, drink, sleep, pray, read, dance and look for love."

With a libretto by April de Angelis and music by Jonathan Dove, the production is melodic, energetic and dazzlingly orchestrated, Ross said. It is like a cross between John Adams and Stephen Sondheim.

The cast includes Jessica Smith as the Controller, Gerrod Pagenkopf as the Refugee, John Weinel as Bill and Desiree Alejandro as Tina, in addition to many other talented performers.

"Do not miss them. Both operas are a lot of fun. And cheap," Ross said. "We are one of the largest opera production programs in the country, and we have the single most beautiful opera house on any college campus in the world."

The Turk in Italy takes a different spin on the woes of love as a poet searches for the plot of his next play. A group of gypsies arrives including the flirty Fiorilla, her husband Geronio and a Turkish prince who is on the lookout for an Italian wife. Romantic and comic mayhem ensues as mistaken identities ultimately lead to a happy ending.

Sung in original Italian with English subtitles, the libretto by Felice Romani and music by Gioachino Rossini features beautiful singing, including performances by the men and women's chorus.

"I had the right singers for both operas, so now was the time to do them," Ross said. "And I love Rossini."

Cast members include Sara Crain as Fiorella, Justin Coffey as Geronio and Michael Vaughn as The Poet.

Flight will run at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and The Turk in Italy will run at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Monday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Moores Opera Center. Tickets for both performances are $10 for students/seniors and $15 general admission. Reserved seating is also available by calling (713) 743-3313.

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