Opera theater isn’t new at St. Charles Community College. For several years, students have been educated about opera, performing short scenes from famous works in the process, according to a press release.
“This is commonly done at smaller schools,” said Erin Haupt, music adjunct faculty. “There usually aren’t enough students to put on a full opera production.”
When Haupt took over the opera theater workshop class last year, she had a vision.
“Being an opera singer myself,” she said, “I felt students would benefit so much more if they could put on a full opera production.”
So, Haupt worked to make it a reality. She admits the first year was a struggle.
“I had three people sign up for the course. One dropped out,” she said. “I had to hire two colleagues to fill the cast. After all the work, both our performances were canceled due to weather. We never got the chance to show the community what we had worked so hard to produce.”
Haupt refused to give up. She is making another run at a full, student-led opera production this year. If all goes as planned, it will be the first production of its kind at SCC.
"Amahl and the Night Visitors," a free performance that is appropriate for all ages, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13, in the Daniel J. Conoyer Social Sciences Building Auditorium on the SCC campus, 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Dr., in Cottleville.
“The biggest challenge for the students is developing their character while still singing with the technique they have learned,” Haupt said. “Singing beautifully is one thing. Acting believably is another. When you combine the two, it certainly can be quite difficult.”
It’s a challenge SCC student Austin Stevens was eager to take on. He plays King Kaspar in the opera.
“I had never sung opera before taking this class,” he said. “The experience has been challenging and exciting so far. This is a completely foreign style of music and I really had to change the way I approached the music.”
Rachel Anthonis stars as Amahl.
“I’ve loved singing since I was a child,” she said. “My father was a musician and he always encouraged me to sing and play music. I love it because it’s challenging and there’s always room to grow.”
Anthonis is pursuing her Associate of Fine Arts at SCC. She will soon transfer to Missouri State University to study theater. She hopes to, one day, open a theater company for young people with disabilities.
Rachel Downs plays Amahl’s mother in the opera. Downs had done musicals before, but she had never taken part in an opera. When the chance to take part in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" presented itself, she jumped on the opportunity.