Acclaimed director leads Miami Opera production

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Acclaimed director leads Miami Opera production

How to go

What: Massenet’s “Cinderella”

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 11–13

Where: Hall Auditorium on Miami University’s Oxford campus

Cost: Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for students. Purchase them at the MU box office, (513) 529-3200 or online, at www.tickets .muohio.edu

OXFORD — This is not Disney’s “Cinderella.”

Miami University Opera next week will present French composer Jules Massenet’s operatic telling of the Cinderella story. The production features Freudian themes and dreams that ask the audience, “Which is more real? The things we can touch or our deepest emotions?”

The production’s visiting stage director, Nicholas Muni, said the opera will be captivating for an older audience.

“This version of Cinderella is not just for children. It includes all the good stuff from the fairy tale, but people shouldn’t think, ‘Oh God, I don’t need to see a silly kids’ opera.’ It’s a terrific telling,” said Muni, who brings 30 years of internationally acclaimed and award-winning experience to the venture.

Muni, whose resume includes a long tenure as Cincinnati Opera’s artistic director, is also husband of Mari Opatz-Muni, Miami’s opera program director.

Along with directing Miami’s “Cinderella” production, Muni is also serving as designer of the show’s set, lighting and supertitles, and he has translated the piece to English from its original French.

“I’ve translated a couple pieces before,” Muni said nonchalantly. “I’ve worked on French operas for so many years, and I think it’s something you just pick up.”

In this production, the part of Prince Charming will be played by a woman. According to Opatz-Muni, the opera tries to remain true to the original 1899 production, in which Prince Charming was sung by a mezzo-soprano. The practice is an opera tradition in portraying adolescent or young male characters.

In the rehearsal room this week, the performers looked and sounded more than promising. With only a handful props and none of the costumes or scenery, the performers convincingly created each scene with intense and detailed acting. The music filled the room with powerful, gorgeous emotion.

Opatz-Muni, who had been taking notes and watching to the side of the rehearsal, was delighted with the results.

“You guys almost made me cry five times,” she said to the students after the last scene of the day. “You were very convincing.”

Nicholas Muni said working with Miami students has been rewarding.

“The actual rehearsals have been a real joy,” he said. “I think that’s mainly from a combination of how bright they are and how eager they are to tell the story the right way. It’s very lively.”

While Muni has worked with highly accomplished professionals, he said the down side of working with professionals is that they are sometimes locked into ideas.

“What I enjoy the most is how open minded (the students) are,” he said.

Stefanie Wagner, senior theatre major and stage manager, said rehearsals were going exceptionally well under Muni’s direction.

“He is actually one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with,” she said. “I think we could about open tomorrow.”

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