In Carbondale, Illinois, check out First Friday Music at Morris, a series of free musical performances held on the first Friday of every month during the academic year at Morris Library, on the campus of Southern Illinois University.
These performances are free and open to the public. They are held in the rotunda area, the round room on the first floor, between the coffee shop/lounge and the auditorium.
On Friday, February 7, 2014, opera students from SIU’s Marjorie Lawrence Opera Theater performed scenes with arias from The Barber of Seville (Rossini), The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), Die Fledermaus (Johann Strauss), and Don Pasquale (Donizetti).
Opera coach Paul Transue (pronounced tran-soo) introduced each scene with a brief summary of the opera’s story and characters. He played piano accompaniment for the singers, who sang alternately in Italian and English. All of the young singers were charming in their roles and in excellent voice.
It is such a perk to live in a university town such as Carbondale, Illinois, and have easy access to such quality entertainment. The audience for the February 7th First Friday was full in spite of the bitter cold temperature and ice on the ground. Students, faculty, and community members–including retirees, who have all the fun– were in attendance.
This performance was in part a preview for the light operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat), which will be performed at McLeod Theater on the SIUC campus, Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 on February 28 and March 1, and Sunday, March 2, at 2 pm.
From the bits we saw at Morris Library, The Bat looks like a funny operetta with lovely, familiar music. An operetta, by the way, is different from an opera in that it has spoken parts, whereas in an opera everything is sung. (Paul Transue taught us that!)
The next First Friday will be on March 7, 2014, at noon in the rotunda of Morris Library. The musical performers have not yet been announced, but Transue assured us that they will be good. Based on what I saw last Friday, I have no doubt that he is right!