Shepherd revives the opera “Street Scene” with a new production



Photo courtesy Pippa Jarvis

By Parker Blumentritt 09/11/22 00:53

On November 4 and 6, the Shepherd School of Music performed “Street Scene”, an opera with music composed by Kurt Weill, a book by Elmer Rice and lyrics by Langston Hughes. Patrick Diamond, the show’s director, is in his third year as a faculty member of the Shepherd’s Opera Studies program. Diamond said her role is to coordinate the show’s spatial elements, character interactions, and collaborate with the show’s conductor, Steven Osgood, to create a show that dramatically builds and tells a story.

“I love how different all the characters are… Our students come from all over the country and around the world,” Diamond said. “So it’s pretty amazing to have a play that, even though the characters very specifically come from different places than our students, still reflects that experience and that diversity.”

Additionally, although “Street Scene” turns 75 this year, Diamond said he still finds it relevant today.

“There are issues about this that are at the forefront of our social and political conversations today,” Diamond said. “There’s something really awesome and sad about working on a play that turns 75 this year where those same issues come out.”

Lauren Caroll, a second-year master’s student at Shepherd, played Rose Maurrant, another leading role. She said the show’s intense plot was a challenge.

“The hardest part of the process for me was learning how to handle such intense storylines and finding the emotional and physical stamina for the whole show,” Caroll wrote in an email to the Thresher. “It takes a lot of emotional energy to interpret this story, and it took some getting used to.”

Caroll and Hanna Frampton, a voice student at Shepherd who played Joan in the set, both said Street Scene helped them improve their acting skills.

“Personally, I felt like I grew up as an artist just because ‘Street Scene’ is definitely between the land of opera and musical theater, so you learn how to get on stage from a different way than you normally would for opera,” Frampton, a junior from Sid Richardson College, said.

Daniela Machado, a freshman at Shepherd, played Anna Maurrant, one of the show’s lead roles. Machado said it was his first live opera performance, as his undergraduate opera experience was during the pandemic. Both Machado and Caroll noticed the unique challenges of Street Scene having spoken dialogue, unlike most operas.

“I think one of the hardest parts of the process for me was learning and memorizing the spoken lines of the opera,” Machado wrote in an email to the Thresher. “I used to do musical theater and looking back I was good at memorizing lines, but I really struggled this time.”

The process of preparing for the show lasted several months. Diamond said they began staging rehearsals in late September, but the piece was selected in the spring and many singers began learning their roles over the summer.

“It was just a really long process,” Frampton said. “It was a really fun experience, though, because as an undergrad, I don’t get to interact with graduate students outside of my professor’s studio. So I was really able to make new friends and get to know new people.

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