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The Show Must Go On: UTSA Modernizes Mozart With Virtual Spring Production

UTSA's Music Department original plan for its spring production didn't go as planned once COVID-19 broke out.
UTSA's Music Department original plan for its spring production didn't go as planned once COVID-19 broke out.

The UTSA Music Department’s original plan for a spring production didn’t go as expected but the group worked out an interesting alternative.

Last summer, the department decided to perform Mozart's opera The Marriage of Figaro the following spring. International voice student Julieta García said they had the casting down, and all was going well.

"We began rehearsals in January, and everything was going according to plan,” she said. “And of course, as we all know, that COVID-19 pandemic happened, and it just cut it down to a halt."

But then a shred of hope emerged that, with some luck, they might be able to save the production.

"Dr. Besch and Dr. McCrary, who is our director, came up with the idea of maybe putting something together online," she said.

First order of business: the three-hour opera had to be cut down. And then they had to record the songs.

"All of the arias were recorded as videos and were recorded in either Italian or English," García said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZUbNkT2VsI&list=PLWp575dr77JwwmVR9wStjZLOTk4G-QuaN&index=2

And this production doesn't limit itself to the traditional Marriage of Figaro storyline. Modern conveniences such as cell phones make appearances.

Then there was the music itself.

"We made this a little bit more attractive to other kinds of audience that wouldn't be able to reach the opera by itself,” García said. “So one of our characters actually has a little bit of rap and hip hop happening with their original song."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sNcKEqBP2c&list=PLWp575dr77JwwmVR9wStjZLOTk4G-QuaN&index=4

The entire production can be seen online through the UTSA Music Department, or on YouTube. García said what they had to overcome really elevated the work.

"It was a project from the heart. It was our way of making something out of absolutely nothing," she said.

She also said she found the isolation of the pandemic underscored something important about people:

"They turned to the arts. They turned to painting. They turned to music for their solace. They turned to reading,” she said. “Please support, not just us, but all of the arts and all of those professional artists."

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

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