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Bethel College to present new comic opera

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Bethel College Opera Workshop will present the two-act comic opera "Too Many Sopranos" by Edwin Penhorwood at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 21, 22 and 23 in Krehbiel Auditorium, Fine Arts Center, Bethel College, North Newton. The opera premiered in Cedar Rapids (Iowa) in 2000. For tickets, call (316) 284-5281. All seats are reserved.

"Opera is often considered stuffy and without a sense of humor," says producer Kathryn Kasper, who is also the opera's musical director and associate professor of music at Bethel College. "The music of 'Too Many Sopranos' is contemporary but engaging for the listener, and the style is very broad comedy." Penhorwood, who is musical director of opera workshops at Indiana University School of Music, used snippets from Wagner, Verdi, Gounod and other famous 19th century composers.

Four divas, according to the synopsis, arrive in heaven and are greeted by St. Peter and Gabriel. The divas learn there is not enough room for all of them in the Heavenly Chorus because too many tenors and basses are in Hell. They are appalled that they must audition. They submit, but St. Peter cannot make a decision. Gabriel remembers the "redemption clause," which says that if the sopranos go to Hell and do a selfless deed, they can take back to heaven as many tenors and basses as needed. At the end they all rejoice and promise Saint Peter they will never sing opera again.

"'Too Many Sopranos' is technically demanding but also very accessible for the listener. Audiences will love its beautiful melodies," Kasper says.

The cast includes Michael Ducett (senior from Normal, Ill.) as St. Peter; Kara Stucky (junior from Kingman) as Dame Doleful; Karenza Kroeker (senior from Chouteau, Okla.) as Madame Pompous; Amber Celestin (junior from Maize) as Miss Titmouse: Emily Claassen (junior from Beatrice, Neb.) as Just Jeanette; Miranda Crile (junior from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa) as Sandman; Bethany Joy Amstutz (sophomore from Goessel) as Gabriel; Micah Bales (sophomore from Wichita) as Nelson Deadly; Joseph Dick (junior from Bloomington, Ill.) as Enrico Carouser; Brett Klingenberg (senior from Peabody) as Unnamed Bass; and James Regier (senior from Haven) as the guard Orson.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.