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MU Opera to feature three shows in one music-filled evening

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 22:11

The Miami University opera program, known for putting on top-of-the-line productions, is making changes. This year’s production is different in that it features three smaller shows as opposed to one multi-act performance. The evening will include the operetta Trial by Jury and two short operas, The Face on the Barroom Floor and Trouble in Tahiti. The reason for the new style is to give more students the opportunity to perform, according to associate music professor Mari Opatz-Muni, who is producing the opera.

“In choosing an opera, we strive to find an appropriate piece that is challenging but also provides a positive, educational experience,” Opatz-Muni said. “With three contemporary pieces we were able to give opportunities to a wider range of students.”

The most challenging aspect of presenting three different operas on the same evening was linking each piece. Production designer Nicholas Muni achieved cohesion by means of a common time setting as well as weaving characters throughout all three operas. The only piece with the intended setting in the 1950s is Trouble in Tahiti. Muni updated Trial by Jury and backdated The Face on the Barroom Floor.

“The 3-piece production is a contemporary musical idiom,” Muni said. “The themes are complex enough that it is intriguing while basic enough for everyone to enjoy.”

Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury is a light-hearted tale of a bride suing her groom at the altar for a breach of marriage in which the judge and legal system are objects of satire. It is an unusual trial in that the case is held at 10 p.m. To settle the dispute, the judge decides to marry the bride. When it debuted in 1875, it was an immediate success among audiences.

Henry Mollicone’s The Face on the Barroom Floor, written in 1978, is one of America’s most popular cabaret operas. The story revolves around a love triangle based on a tragic legend involving the painting of a woman’s face on the floor of a barroom. The 25-minute act contains a flashback of 100 years to tell the haunting story behind the beautiful painting.

Known for his composition of West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein takes a look at the ups and downs of a 1950’s suburbia marriage in his lesser-known Trouble in Tahiti. It features music that is the epitome of American jazz.

Students performing in the operas feel positive about the show as they approach opening night.

“The production is really solid,” graduate student Kristopher Jordan said. “We are so meticulous that the production has reached a professional level.”

Miami Opera: Triple Bill will take place 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in Hall Auditorium. Tickets are $8 for students and $13 for adults and are available through the Shriver Box Office. More information about the Miami University Opera can be found at

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