Clarksville, TN – The Austin Peay State University Opera Theatre and Orchestra will take playgoers on a nostalgic trip through a bygone era in America with its productions of Lee Hoiby’s “This is the Rill Speaking” and Samuel Barber’s “A Hand of Bridge.”
The opera opens at 7:30pm on Saturday, April 23rd, with a matinee performance at 3:00pm on Sunday, April 24th, in the Music/Mass Communication Building’s Mabry Concert Hall. The show is free and open to the public.A one-act opera “This is the Rill Speaking” captures the everyday happenings of rural America. Based on the play by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, the opera visits the lives of its rural inhabitants in a non-linear, fluid fashion.
Such glimpses of small town life include woman discussing home decoration, schoolboys gossiping about fellow students and other trivial scenes that taken together provide an overall picture of country life.
“This is the Rill Speaking” is unique in its production, as the play narrows the viewer’s focus to reflect the mundane nature of the stories. As one performer sings their vignette, they earn the focus of the lighting while the rest of the darkened stage is prepared for a seamless transition to the next performer.
“We try for a little variety from year-to-year in the productions we stage, and we decided on (‘This is the Rill Speaking’) because we had all the players and had decided we wanted to do American operas this year,” Lisa Conklin-Bishop, director of opera theatre at APSU, said. “And we wanted to do ‘This is the Rill Speaking’ because we had a real connection to Lee Hoiby at APSU because he was an Acuff Chair of Excellence here about seven years ago and we became really enchanted with his music. Because his teachers and mentors were Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti (who wrote the libretto for ‘A Hand of Bridge’), we thought it’d be fun to choose these two operas.”
The APSU Opera will also perform Barber’s “A Hand of Bridge,” possibly the shortest opera that is regularly performed, at roughly nine minutes in length.
In “A Hand of Bridge,” four friends are gathered for their evening bridge game. As play progresses, each sings an aria expressing their true thoughts, unveiling the unfulfilled desires of the individual and their isolation, even among lovers and friends.
For more information on the show, contact the APSU music department at 931.221.7818.