Lyric Theatre premieres "Lady with the Pet Dog"

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell College’s Lyric Theatre presents “Love and Anguish: An Evening of Opera on the Hilltop”, featuring the world premiere of “The Lady with the Pet Dog” with libretto by Barbara Lau and Cornell instructor Jonathon Thull, and music by Iowa City composer Michael Cash, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in King Chapel.

lyric-theatre-2010Performances continue the following Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29-30, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $6 for seniors, students, and youth, and free to Cornell students, faculty and staff. For ticket reservations, call (319) 895-5389.

“The Lady with the Pet Dog,” based on the short story by Anton Chekhov, will form the basis of a full Russian experience during the evening. Prior to each performance Jan. 28-30, Tatyana’s Kitchen in Mount Vernon will serve an authentic Russian dinner starting at 5:30 p.m. The meal is served family style and priced at $12 per person (BYO wine/ beer).  Reservations are required by calling (319) 551-3553.

“People will get the full treatment of the authentic Russian dinner and Chekov,” said Lau. “It’s already as cold as Siberia here.”

“Lady with the Pet Dog” will also incorporate projections of paintings by Russian landscape artist Isaac Levitan alongside music by Cash.

“Michael’s music is beautiful; I think it’s going to be very enjoyable,” said Lau. “The students are energetic, they’re responsive, and we think we’ve captured the full range of emotions of Chekov’s story.”

As the production’s director, Thull notes, “What’s both exciting and challenging is that the musical tableau explores the French-Russian relationship and has an affinity more closely aligned to Debussy than say Verdi or Puccini, and even a tip-of-the-hat to one of the greatest operatic composers: Mozart.”

Lau is an author, teacher and writer from Mount Vernon. Her first book of poetry, “The Long Surprise,” won the 2000 X. J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. She received an NEA grant to complete and stage her first play, “Raising Medusa,” in April 2009 at Riverside Theatre. Lau has performed several monologues at Riverside Theatre and teaches literature, creative writing and composition classes at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

Thull founded Lyric Theatre at Cornell College in 1998, is the faculty in charge of studio voice and Lyric Theatre, and has a doctoral degree in vocal performance and pedagogy. He has more than 30 operatic and musical theatre roles to his credit and has served as both chorus master and director/designer of the Young Artists Program for Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre.

The first half of the evening will feature selected excerpts from Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème,” Amadeus Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” and “Le nozze di Figaro,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti,” Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Old Maid and the Thief,” Jules Massenet’s “Werther,” and Douglas Moore’s “The Ballad of Baby Doe.”

Since its inception 11 years ago Lyric Theatre has presented a rich tapestry of musical theatre and operatic offerings. These fully staged and costumed productions have included “Godspell – 2000 A.D.,” “Hair,” “The Secret Garden,” “Sweeney Todd,” “The Marriage of Figaro,” “Gianni Schicchi,” and “Trouble in Tahiti.” Participants in Lyric Theatre include Cornell students across all academic disciplines.

PHOTO: Sarah Levy portrays the heroine, Anna Sergeyevna, while Matt Roberts, guest artist and Cornell alumnus, creates the role of Dmitry Gurov in Cornell Lyric Theatre’s one-act opera world premiere of Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Pet Dog.”