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Opera brings Mozart to VSU

This Friday marks the beginning of musical sounds as the VSU Opera and Valdosta Symphony Orchestra perform Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in the Whitehead Auditorium at 10 a.m.

“It’s been a tradition to do a Friday youth performance. Children from schools are usually bussed-in for it,” Dr. Carol Mikkelsen, head of the voice area of the Department of Music and producer for “Don Giovanni,” said.

“Due to the nature of “Don Giovanni” itself, we’re not playing to elementary school children…”

The performances are mainly for high school students.

Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” revolves around the wretched main character, Don Giovanni, who is a terrible “womanizer.”

This politically incorrect, tragic comedy is bound to raise eyebrows and get a chuckle out of audiences.

Along with Mikkelsen, faculty such as Dr. Kenneth Kirk, a professor of Music and conductor of the Valdosta Opera, will be conducting the performance.

“’Don Giovanni’ is one of the great artworks of Western civilization. It is an honor to be able to recreate this piece, and we are fortunate to have the resources to do it,” Kirk said.

The cast and crew have been hard at work since the idea was drawn up last spring.

“It takes hundreds of hours, and dozens of specialized artists, to put together a production like this,” Dr. Kirk said.

“VSU Opera meets as a class in the fall, and at this point we have been in intensive weekend rehearsals since the beginning of January.”

In the balcony, younger musicians will be playing different pieces of music to which the peasants will dance, allowing some youth to actually be included.

Alongside Mikkelsen and Kirk is Dorothy Barnes, a part-time teacher in the Theatre Department, who is working on the costuming.

“She’s doing beautifully! They’re gorgeous costumes…We haven’t updated [‘Don Giovanni’] at all,” Mikkelsen said.

Joe Muncy, the Technical Whitehead Auditorium Manager, has been building the sets for the Opera.

Hollis Barnett, professor of Art and Projection Artist for the performance, has been working in the animation lab to make projections.

“We’ve been using [projections] for the past few years, since Whitehead is just a big auditorium, on the back wall to project certain images,” Mikkelsen said. “And it’s animated! It’s like a Disney movie!”

“Don Giovanni” is set in Spain and the Spanish Mission architecture on campus is going to make up some of the backdrops.

The rest of crew includes: Stage Director William Dwight Coleman, Choreographer Maria Taylor, and Media Artist Kathleen Kirk.

There are a couple of student artists from Georgia State University coming as guests to perform.

“It’s kind of a large cast, so I had to import a couple of guests,” Mikkelsen said.

“Don Giovanni” will also be performed on both this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. with three different showings for the youth, VSU students, and the community.

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