Miss this weekend’s opera performance of “The Gondoliers” and it will be two more years until you get another chance to experience a grand collaboration between two University of Montana programs.
Although the UM Opera Theater holds multiple performances annually, every other year they collaborate with the UM Symphony Orchestra and Missoula Community Theatre to put on a larger show at MCT’s stage.
This time that show, which will have performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, is a rendition of the satirical duo of Gilbert and Sullivan.
UM professor of music and show director Anne Basinski said in addition to hosting the show, MCT provides technical and design work on the performances, which includes making costumes, props and backgrounds as well as handling the lighting.
“The Gondoliers” follows the story of two men in the titular roles who grow up believing they are brothers. After the king of the land of Barataria is killed, they discover one of them is actually the long lost heir to the throne.
Basinski said some of UM Opera Theater’s recent productions, including its performance of the Greek myth “The Legend of Orpheus,” the collaboration show from 2014, had a distinctly somber tone to them.
A little more than a year ago, when the organizers of this weekend’s show began to choose what opera to perform, Basinski said there was a definite bent toward finding something more lighthearted. They also chose a performance that fits the needs of the 26 UM students that are a part of the show.
“We all have our own thoughts about what our students will be able to learn from and show off what they do well,” Basinski said.
“The Gondoliers” works well for the purpose of being a learning experience because it was purposefully written to have more even distribution of stage time amongst a larger number of leading roles, giving more students the opportunity to step into bigger parts, Basinski said.
“That’s a great thing for students as far as learning and showcasing their talents,” she said.
Unlike what they did with “The Legend of Orpheus,” where accompanying music was picked and then attached to fit the storyline of the show, Basinski said “The Gondoliers” was already a complete show with its own music.
To prepare for the show, Basinski worked alongside David Cody, the music director for the show, who led the UM Symphony Orchestra. Rehearsals started with the two groups practicing separately, before slowly starting to integrate until they were performing on stage together.
While rehearsals have been ongoing since the fall, Basinski said the time and number of practices started to ramp up at the start of the year.
“We’re ready for a crowd. When you do a humorous show, where there might be laughing and giggling, it’s a whole different feel to perform it in front of people,” she said.