Student opera “Don Giovanni” set for weekend performances


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Jeff Smith/Staff Photographer School of Music students Allendale graduate Paul Melcher, left, Munger senior Zach Krieger and Rochester Hills senior Thomas Walkenhorst perform a rehearsal of Don Giovanni Wednesday in Staples Family Concert Hall.

Angela Gawne dreams of someday traveling across Europe performing in historical opera houses.

The Flint senior said she loves the way opera demands perfection.

“It combines everything, and it’s more challenging,” she said. “You get all aspects of different cultures in just one thing.”

Gawne is just one of many students preparing for “Don Giovanni,” an opera composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that takes place at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Music Building’s Staples Family Concert Hall.

Since rehearsals, the cast and crew have turned the Music Building’s green room into an otherworldly place.

It is a realm of purgatory for men in 18th-century blouses and tights to check Facebook pages and women in decorated gowns to text their friends and do homework.

Jack Eikrem paced about, listening to the baritones and sopranos on stage during a Wednesday night performance.

If you go... Time: 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday Place: Music Building’s Staples Family Concert Hall Cost: $10 for public, $7 for students, seniors

The Mount Pleasant freshman hopes to someday perform at to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

“(Opera is) the most beautiful music ever written,” he said.

Eikrem is the son of James Eikrem, temporary faculty of communication and dramatics arts at Central Michigan University.

Jack grew up with opera often playing in his house.

Though he always had a love for it, he was halfway through high school before he felt called to the art form.

“At some point, I considered it a legitimate career, which is something I’d never done before,” he said.

He said the melodies, orchestration and soaring drama of opera is what attracted him to the performance style.

“What’s not to like?,” Eikrem said.

Saginaw senior Joe Leibinger wants to conduct opera orchestras at a university.

He is drawn to the art by the unique connection it forges between its performers and the composer — in this case, a man and an era more than 200 years ago.

“It’s the communication of notes on a page actually meaning something to people,” Leibinger said.

Gawne caught her breath backstage Wednesday and adjusted the period dress she rented from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. It was very intricate — and heavy.

She enjoys all aspects of opera, including the vocal performance.

“Not everyone can get to the Met (the Metropolitan Opera House),” Gawne said. “But you can get to Grand Rapids.”

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