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Local talent performing with Opera unMet

Trilogy: The Stories of Carmen, Aida, and Figaro

Directed by Marshall Hughes.

Friday in Kresge Auditorium, 8 p.m.

Tickets $5 for MIT community members, $15 for non-MIT affiliates.

By Teresa Huang
Staff Reporter

When's the last time you went to any event with your friends and saw one of your professors in the audience, sitting right behind your floor tutor, watching your freshman advisor singing on stage? You might this Friday night when Opera unMet of Boston presents a live opera production entitled Trilogy: The Stories of Carmen, Aida, and Figaro, a production which includes several members of the MIT community in its cast.

Celebrating their ninth year together, Opera unMet is an opera company dedicated to opera and music, comprised primarily of artists in the Boston area. Rather than hire performers from New York and other cities like many Boston opera companies, Opera unMet takes advantage of the great pool of local talent and offers them opportunities for major roles and productions. The link between the opera company and the Institute is Marshall Hughes, MIT Independent Activities Period coordinator and a director and performer with Opera unMet. He also serves as the driving force behind encouraging participation from the MIT community.

Opera unMet has been involved in two previous productions during IAP that drew participation from the MIT community. The first was Puppets and Little People, a production held in 1993 and 1994 for children that incorporated live music and life-size puppets, designed and made by members of the MIT community.

The second was last year's successful production of Porgy and Bess, which sold out Kresge Auditorium. Hughes, who directed and starred in the show, called it a huge success and great community builder. "What's really nice about doing things at MIT is that everyone comes out from their offices and clubs, and we just get together on the Friday night and have fun," he said.

Trilogy: The Stories of Carmen, Aida, and Figaro, their latest production, is just as energetic and creative as their past shows, Hughes said. The stories are told by narrators, who guide the audience through the songs performed by the featured singers for each opera. A special feature is the first story of Aida, which is narrated by three children. "I always think it's important to incorporate children or youth into classical music [productions]. They add so much to it," said Hughes, who directed this production with pianist Ellen Polansky.

Hughes stressed that the opera is a community-building event for MIT as well as a production for Opera unMet. Phil Lima, who works in the MIT Personnel Office, will be singing a lead role in Figaro. Stephanie Harriston-Diggs, also an MIT staff member, will narrate both Carmen and Figaro. Hughes himself will be performing as Don Jose in Carmen. Several other MIT staff members will appear in the chorus, and many MIT students are also involved with aspects of the show, including publicity, stage managing, and design.

Hughes hopes to see a lot of MIT people attend the performance this Friday mixing with other members of the MIT community. Talking about last year's success, he said, "One of the things that somebody told me about the performance was that it was great to have all these people from the MIT community people [they] hadn't seen in months, and sometimes even years, sitting in the auditorium."

Trilogy: The Stories of Carmen, Aida, and Figaro will be presented Friday evening at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for MIT community members, and there is no limit to the number purchased per individual. Tickets for non-MIT community members are $15. They are available at the door or can be purchased in advance from Hughes in 7-103, ext. 3-1668.

A second performance will take place in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music on Friday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. Tickets for this showing are $15 and $25, with a $5 discount for students and senior citizens. Contact the Jordan Hall box office at 536-2412.