Published August 28, 2023

Western Plains Opera Presents ‘Carmen’

Written by
The Dakotan
| The Dakotan

Minot State University release

MINOT – Western Plains Opera will return to Ann Nicole Nelson Hall in Minot State University’s Old Main on Friday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.

One of the most popular operas ever written, “Carmen” is set in 19th century Seville, Spain, where soldiers spend their time drinking at a tavern obsessing over the girls who work in the cigarette factory, and over Carmen, whose captivating intensity allows her to manipulate everyone to suit her whims.

“This is a toxic love story with shocking, electric energy interspersed with the sweetness of daily life; an innocent Micaëla delivers a mother’s letter to a soldier and children eagerly await the changing of the guard,” said DeVera Bowles, recently retired Minot State voice professor and Western Plains Opera costumer designer. “The music grabs you from the first note and doesn’t let you go until the last note.

“It’s all there: Carmen’s seduction of soldier Don José, Carmen’s lust for freedom, and José’s obsessive love, jealousy, and desperation hurtling toward her violent end. The story gains dimension through scenes with Carmen’s smuggler friends and handsome bullfighter Escamillo, whose swaggering tavern entrance marks the beginning of the end.”

The stage will be filled with a multi-generational adult and children’s chorus, along with dancers from the Rinat Mouzafarov Institute of Ballet.

“People will be surprised at how many melodies they will recognize,” said Bowles. “This production will be a bit like musical theater in that there is some spoken dialogue, and it will be performed in English with supertitles to guarantee no one misses anything.”

New York based mezzo soprano Sarah Heltzel brings her own castanets as Carmen, a role that has become a signature role. Minot native and Minot State alumnus Nathan Bowles, currently based in Dallas, Texas, is tenor Don José. Other cast members include Dallas soprano Bethany Jelinek as Micaëla and returning artists Christopher Holmes of Utah as Escamillo and Minnesotan Elias Mokole as Zuniga.

Minot State singers with named roles are Evan Putt as Morales, Erik M. Anderson as Dancairo, Royce Brown as Remendado, Megan Klebe as Frasquita, and Megan Kramer as Mercedes.

Western Plains Opera and Minot State are delighted to welcome Ted Christopher, Penn State Opera Theatre Artistic Director as “Carmen’s” stage director. MSU associate professor and Minot Symphony Orchestra Music Director Efraín Amaya will lead the orchestra.

Past Western Plains Opera “Carmen” productions were in 1987, 1997, and 2014.

The 1987 production was a catalyst for the creation of the Western Plains Children’s Choir (WPCC). “Carmen” needed a children’s chorus, and a group of outstanding young singers was chosen. Later that fall, WPO produced the operetta “Song for Norway,” which also needed a children’s chorus. Sandra Starr, Joseph Hegstad, and Julianne Wallin envisioned a permanent, on-going children’s choir group.

“In January 1991, a group of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade children from Minot and the surrounding area were selected as the first WPCC under the direction of Starr,” said an article written by Janet Parton. “The following fall, a second choir formed which came to be identified as the Western Plains Junior Choir. The Youth Ensemble was established later as the older students wished to keep singing with WPCC.”

Founded under the auspices of the Minot Community Opera Company, today known as the Western Plains Opera, both groups benefit from the support of Minot State University.

Kaylee Capp, Megan Klebe, and Rachel Voth, all Minot State music education graduates and WPCC participants in their youth, are today leading the charge of the WPCC’s performances at the 2023 Norsk Hostfest and hope to use their education and experience as singers in the choir to create a fun experience for all students and an enjoyable program for the audience.

The children’s choir comes full circle with WPCC choir alumni directing the Norsk Hostfest Choir and with Nathan Bowles, also a MSU music education graduate, who participated in WPCC and Norsk Hostfest choirs.

Paula Simonson, a quiet advocate of all children’s arts opportunities in the community for many years, is thrilled to see the choirs continue.

“There are kids out there that are hungry for the opportunity to sing, dance, and act; to perform,” said Simonson. “We want all of them to know WPCC is here, come sing with us!”

Tickets for “Carmen” are available HERE or by visiting wpopera.org. Ticket prices for adults are $25, $30, or $35, depending on seat location, with children aged 17 and under only $10. Minot State students can attend for free with their student ID.

Stay connected to the latest news
Subscription Form (#3)

About the Author

Trending Now
The Dakotan Newsletter
Subscribe to get the latest news delivered straight to your inbox
Newsletter Form (#4)
© AndMuse, LLC 2024 Login Email
LIVE: 2022 Minot Mayoral Forum
Click to Watch Live
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram