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A “Carmen” Collaboration

Work by noted artist Steve Penley will grace the stage of the UWG Opera’s production of “Carmen” in March.

UWG Opera Workshop director Larry Frazier with students who will play the cigarette factory workers in "Carmen": (L to R) Chaneya Joiner, soprano, Ashley Quartey, soprano, Kernetia Barnes, soprano, and Rebekah Knott, mezzo-soprano.

UWG Opera Workshop director Larry Frazier with students who will play the cigarette factory workers in "Carmen": (L to R) Chaneya Joiner, soprano, Ashley Quartey, soprano, Kernetia Barnes, soprano, and Rebekah Knott, mezzo-soprano.

This is a first-time collaboration between Penley and Dr. Larry Frazier, the director of the opera workshop, who approached the artist. Penley was eager to do the work and produced four paintings, one for each act of Georges Bizet’s 19th century piece.

“He wanted to support the local arts,” said Carrie Penley, his wife. “He’s very excited about the project and thought that it would be fun to be a part of it. UWG is a great school and he loves that we are able to put on a production like this.”

Formetco, the outdoor advertising giant based in Duluth, will use a proprietary process to transform the paintings into 22-foot-by-45-foot scenic drops for the production.

“It’s a remarkable gift,” Frazier said. “I’m so appreciative of it.”

It is the second time that Frazier has produced “Carmen” at UWG. The students in this year’s workshop had the voices he needed for the principal roles in one of the most popular operas in the world.

While other schools produce operas, they often use graduate students and bring in professional singers to perform the leading roles, he said. At UWG, most of Frazier’s singers are undergraduates.

“I’m real grateful that we have that opportunity for the students,” said Frazier, who has been teaching at UWG for 24 years. “We want our singers to have that experience while they are doing their undergraduate and graduate studies.”

The singers include: Abigail Dawkins, soprano, as Carmen; Alex McCurdy, tenor, as Don Jose; Robby Vizurraga, bass-baritone, as Escamillo the Toreador; Joy Anderson, soprano, as Michaela; and Travis Watkins, bass-baritone, as Lt. Zuniga.

The cigarette factory women in the production are Chaneya Joiner, soprano; Ashley Quartey, soprano; Kernetia Barnes, soprano; and Rebekah Knott, mezzo-soprano.

The Carroll Community Wind Ensemble will supply the woodwinds and brass players. Professional string players will round out the production, giving the opera a full orchestral accompaniment. UWG’s Concert Choir will sing as well. Dressed in black, the singers will act like a Greek chorus.

There will be two performances at the Townsend Center for the Performing Arts: Thursday, March 8, at 8:15 p.m. and Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $10 adults, $7 senior citizens, $5 non-UWG students, $3 children 12 and under, free for UWG students with ID.

 

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