Whitney Hale


College: Fine Arts

UK Undergrads Stage New Opera Bringing Comic to Life

Published: Jan 30, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2014) — Undergraduate opera vocalists at the University of Kentucky will get the rare opportunity this weekend to be part of the first staging of a new opera. American composer Daron Aric Hagen and librettist J.D. McClatchy’s "Little Nemo in Slumberland" brings the early 20th century comic of the same name by Winsor McCay to life. Commissioned by the Sarasota Youth Opera, UK Opera Theatre’s (UKOT) Undergraduate Studio presents the second portion of the world premiere featuring university students, as well as children from local schools, Feb. 1-2, at the Singletary Center for the Arts.


"Little Nemo" recounts the adventures of a boy over the course of two nights. Family visitors and neighbor kids are transformed in his dreams into fantastic characters, all of them involved in Nemo's quest to save Slumberland from Emperor Sol, who wants it to be bright all night and all day.


Nemo encounters a crystal enchantress, menacing giants, the impish Flip and the dottering Dr. Pill, along with King Morpheus and his lovely daughter. His adventures along the way include a floating bed and a balloon ride, dizzying changes of scale and a palace that turns upside down. At the opera's end, all the characters come to the realization: "We need a world of dreams."


"Little Nemo" uses rear projection technology created here at UK by the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments for the 2011 production of "The Gershwins'® Porgy and Bess" staged by UKOT. Production designers Susan Dudley Wigglesworth and Jan Yon bring the fanciful world of Slumberland to life with illustrations from McCay's original comic strips added to simplistic sets that move the opera along in great harmony.


The opera is directed by UK artist-in-residence Gregory Turay, and conductor Lucía Marín and Cliff Jackson, music director, round out the leadership on the production.


Members of the UK cast of "Little Nemo" are: vocal performance sophomore Dylan Harrison, of Nicholasville, Ky.; vocal performance junior Tanner Hoertz, of Lexington; music education senior Andrew Miller, of Lexington; vocal performance senior Laura Salyer, of Lexington; vocal performance senior Samuel Themer, of Frankfort, Ky.; and vocal performance junior Mary Catherine Wright, of Lexington.


The Undergraduate Opera Studio was established  to give undergraduate vocalists more chances to perform, as graduate students populate most of the casts of the university's larger opera productions. The UK Undergraduate Opera Studio presented its first production, Mozart's "The Magic Flute," in April 2010. In addition to the chance to stage another full opera, "Little Nemo" marks the first time the undergraduate program will be part of a world premiere, a rare opportunity for even graduate level opera programs.


Two performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 in the Singletary Center Recital Hall. Tickets for "Little Nemo in Slumberland" are $22 for adults and $12 for students. To purchase tickets, contact the Singletary Center box office online at www.scfatickets.com or by phone at 859-257-4929.


UK Opera Theatre is part of the UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The School of Music has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, composition, and theory and music history.


For more information on "Little Nemo in Slumberland," contact UK Opera Theatre at 859-257-9331.



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716whitney.hale@uky.edu

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