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Loyola University New Orleans stages annual Opera Theatre production featuring works by Debussy and Ravel

By Loyola University on Fri, 01/19/2024 - 14:33

The School of Music and Theatre Professions is pleased to present a double bill of French, one-act works for the stage Jan. 26 and 28 in Roussel Hall, on the Loyola campus.

The Loyola Opera Theatre will perform Debussy's “L’enfant prodigue” and Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortilèges” – both about children and the lessons they must learn – in its annual, fully-staged opera production, said Carol Rausch, director of the school’s Opera Workshop.

The operas are double-cast, meaning a different set of students take to the stage at each of the two performances, she said. The 95-minute production features 28 students who participate in the Opera Workshop, Rausch said.

Many of the students did not have previous knowledge of the operas, Rausch said, noting that introducing her students to new music is one of her favorite things to do as an educator.

“When we announced the operas we would be performing, you could see people kind of glaze over,” Rausch said, laughing. “The most rewarding part of the job for me is seeing the kids spark to the music and fall in love with it.”

Debussy’s “L’enfant prodigue,” first performed in 1884, is a setting of the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, with a beautiful and exotic score best known for the poignant aria of Lia, the Mother. Ravel’s ”L’enfant et les sortilèges,” which premiered in 1925, features a libretto by the French author Colette. In this opera, a naughty child is punished for his behavior when the objects in his room come to life and seek to teach him a lesson.

“As audience members, people will hear a different type of harmonic sound from these two composers,” said Tyler Smith, the Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Professor in Opera and area coordinator for the voice program at Loyola. “This makes it more interesting from a listener’s perspective.”

The estate of James Maher III, a Loyola Law School graduate, gifted the University with an endowment to enhance the annual opera production beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, said his daughter, Colleen Maher.

The endowment also will go toward refurbishing the second-floor choral room, said Maher, who is the music director at Holy Name of Jesus Church. Further, the estate provided a cash gift for the current school year to start that enhancement now, she said.

Maher noted that the gift is personally important to her because two Loyola faculty members involved in the annual opera production, Dreux Montegut and Irini Kyriakidou-Hymel, are an organist and a cantor, respectively, at Holy Name. She hopes that her father’s donation to the opera program will encourage others to follow suit, Maher said.

The opera will run Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 28 at 3 p.m. in Roussel Hall. Tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for senior citizens and $10 for those with a Loyola or student ID.

Find more information or purchase tickets.