Midwest premiere of contemporary opera to be performed this weekend at Kleist Center for Art & Drama

“This show is not your typical opera at all. It has definitely put a lot of us out of our comfort zone,” said Sophia Sorrentino, a performer in the show.


Alexis Watkins

Music theatre students from the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music will take their talents to New York for the program’s annual senior showcase.

A new contemporary opera, “We’ve Got Our Eye on You,” is set to debut on the evening of Feb. 3 in the Kleist Center’s Black Box Theatre.  

“We’ve Got Our Eye on You” originally premiered in 2015. However, the BW Vocal Performance department’s production of this opera will be the first showing in the Midwest region.  

According to junior vocal performance major Katherine Fisfis, premiering the show has been a very challenging experience.  

“The thing with new works is you don’t have anything to base your performance off of,” Fisfis said. “You’re going from scratch.” 

Fisfis noted that it’s also been especially exciting to premiere this work, as it was composed by Nkeiru Okoye, who is a woman of color. 

“It’s very rewarding to get to perform pieces that are done by historically underrepresented people,” Fisfis said. “It feels good to be able to take part in that.” 

Okoye’s opera is a comedic commentary on modern hookup culture featuring figures from Greek mythology. This includes Perseus, son of Zeus; Pythia, an oracle at Delphi; a chorus of six storytellers; and the three leads of the show, the Graeae sisters. 

Sophia Sorrentino, senior vocal performance major, noted that the contemporary style of the opera posed a unique challenge for many cast members.  

“This show is not your typical opera at all,” said Sorrentino. “It has definitely put a lot of us out of our comfort zone. But I feel like that’s been a good experience for all of us to have.” 

Fisfis said “We’ve Got Our Eye on You” is unlike other operas she is used to singing because it “shares characteristics with lot of different genres,” such as jazz, musical theatre and classical opera. 

However, Fisfis said that the opera’s wide range of musical influence was not a negative thing. She said that it contributes to the show’s accessibility for a larger audience, along with other factors. 

“It’s almost like a gateway drug for opera,” Fisfis said. “It’s only an hour long, it’s in English … it’s very easy to consume.” 

Sorrentino said another challenge of this production has been the short time frame for rehearsals, which started only a few weeks ago on Jan. 9. 

“Trying to put it all together in a month has definitely been an insane experience,” Sorrentino said. “But it has also been a very rewarding experience.” 

The “intense and frequent” rehearsal schedule posed an challenge for Fisfis as well, who said it was difficult coming back from break and “immediately having to hit the ground running.” 

First-year vocal performance major Maribell Salazar also said scheduling was a significant obstacle, but otherwise has had a positive experience with the show. 

“This is my first opera,” Salazar said. “So far, it’s been really easy to maneuver through everything. They [the show’s directors] have made it very clear on what they want and how to do it.” 

Salazar additionally said that the most gratifying parts of the experience were participating in her first sitzprobe – a rehearsal with a full orchestra – and working with her peers on other technical aspects. 

“To feel myself singing with the instrumentalists … it was just so amazing. It really made me feel like I’m in a show,” said Salazar. “And seeing ourselves do choreography—that is so fun and so rewarding once it’s finally done.” 

 “We’ve Got Our Eye on You” will run from Feb. 3 until Feb. 6. Tickets are currently available online for all four performances. Ticket information can be found by clicking here.