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Neely Bruce’s Take On Shakespeare’s Take On Ovid

The Jacobs School of Music Advanced Opera Workshop presents three one-act operas including Neely Bruce's "Pyramus and Thisbe."

composer neely bruce clapping

Photo: Mitra Images

Composer Neely Bruce.

Event Information

Advanced Opera Workshop

Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Aleko" Paul Hindemith's "Hin und Zuruck" Neely Bruce's "Pyramus and Thisbe."


Musica Arts Center Room 301

April 20th @ 7pm; April 21st @ 4pm

free

The Advanced Opera Workshop at the Jacobs School of Music will present three one-act operas in a production directed by Carol Vaness.  On the program are Rachmaninoff’s Aleko, Hindemith’s Hin und Zuruck, and American composer Neely Bruce‘s first opera from 1965 Pyramus and Thisbe.

Pyramus and Thisbe is based on the farcical retelling of Ovid’s tragic tale found in the fifth act of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   Neely Bruce composed the work while participating in an opera workshop as an undergraduate at the University of Alabama.

Opera does this extremely well. There is the whole idea of dramma giocoso of Mozart and Da Ponte, which is simultaneously a tragedy and a comedy. And that’s what my piece is. It’s a little miniature dramma giocoso.

Bruce explained that in a workshop setting, the music is largely pared down.  Rangers aren’t too extreme. There are very few ensemble pieces, if any at all, many of the roles have one or no arias of their own, and a variety of voices are able to sing the roles.

Of course we have people who can do much more difficult things. I mean, Aleko on this [program] is a much bigger piece, but it’s the same people doing Aleko as doing Pyramus and Thisbe.

And Bruce found that working with the words of Shakespeare was rewarding in a way that working with a living librettist could never really be.

Shakespeare is the best playwright in the language. So you’re dealing with something that really, really works on the stage. I knew that if I didn’t get in the way of the words with music, it would work as a piece of musical theater, even though it was completely taken out of context. The words are that strong in and of themselves.

David Wood

Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, David Wood moved to Bloomington in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University, and his Master of Music from the University of North Texas. He studied ensemble direction at the Jacobs School of Music's Early Music Institute and joined WFIU in 2006 as an announcer. In 2008 he became WFIU's Music Director and also served as Art Bureau Chief from 2008-2013. David’s interests include Irish music and language (particularly traditional singing), music and religion, running, the outdoors, and, of course, classical music!

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