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Beggar’s Opera crosses boundaries of usual opera

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The Beggar’s Opera isn’t your grandma’s opera. The U of L opera society present the John Gay penned 1728 fun little opera in The David Spinks Theatre,  Oct. 28 and Oct. 29.
“It’s a revolutionary piece that split from all other operatic conventions,” described director Dr. Blaine Hendsbee.

Emily Fletcher, Dan Hall and Hannah Nickel are part of the Beggar’s Opera, Oct. 28 and 29 at the David Spinks Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s sung in English and it is about the common people— the underbelly of society — highway men and tavern women and people loved it, ” Hendsbee continued.
“It is about a love triangle between a highwayman, MacHeath and Pauline who is rather sweet and demure and Lucy, a tavern woman who is a little more straight-forward and she’s pregnant by MacHeath,” he said.

“It largely surprised theatre audience because it ‘borrowed’ in air quotes operatic music and replaced it with songs that people would have known and able to recognize,” he said.
“In the past 300 years it has been resurrected. Originally it was four hours long but we had to trim it to two hours including the intermission,” he said, adding it has a large cast of 35 people, which has been double cast.

“It’s brisk, fun and lively,” he said.

“It has period costumes designed by Leslie Robison- Greene and professor Douglas MacArthur is in the cast, which is fun,” he said adding they have always wanted to do an opera in the David Spinks Theatre instead of the Recital Hall.
“Usually they are performing in a proscenium arch, but this time it is a three corner stage, which has been a great learning experience for them,” he said adding the concert is already two thirds sold out.
“So we hope people will pick up tickets to avoid being disappointed.”

“Hopefully  they will have a fun night of unbridled joy and laughter with interesting melodies and biting satire. It’s good to laugh,” he said.
The concerts begins at 7:30 p.m. each night. Tickets are $20 regular, $15 seniors and alumni and$12 for students.


Coinciding with the opera that same weekend is another special event featuring a new robot/ machine  the props department can use to make and craft all manner of props.

 It is the cornerstone piece in the Crossing Boundaries Symposium, Oct. 28 and 29 which features experts examining the future of art and technology. Guest speakers include digital media poet, artist and software designer Jason E. Lewis; writer and curator Barbara Maria Stafford; and journalist Nora Young of CBC Radio’s Spark and author of The Virtual Self.

“We have three special guests talking about art and technology,” said U of L manager of theatre operations Amanda Berg, adding it also features a U of L art gallery tour with Donald Lawrence
The symposiums start in the University of Lethbridge Centre for the Arts at 9 a.m., Oct. 29.
Admission is $15 for students and $30 regular.

The U of L opera society is also gearing up for their annual collaboration with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, Feb. 3 and 4.
 This year they are featuring the best of Gilbert and Sullivan including excerpts form their most popular operas including the Mikado and HMS Pinafore

 A version of this story appears in the Oct. 26,2016 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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