Voice program makes headway with Playhouse Square debut

Baldwin Wallace’s Voice program is set to present the opera “The Coronation of Poppea” in Playhouse Square this weekend.

Baldwin Wallace’s voice performance department is to present the opera “The Coronation of Poppea” at the Helen Theater at Playhouse Square this weekend. 

The opera will mark the program’s debut at Playhouse Square and is produced in conjunction with the arts management department. This debut was originally scheduled to take place in 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic set it back. 

“To get to finally do it two years after first planned is super exciting,” said Scott Skiba, director of opera studies.  

“The Coronation of Poppea,” written in 1624 by Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, is the first of three operas to be produced by the opera program this academic year. The cast consists of both voice performance and music theatre majors accompanied by a small chamber orchestra. 

The show follows Poppea, mistress of Roman emperor Nero, as she plots to become empress. Skiba said he believes the themes of the show – “politics, vendetta, revenge and power,” as he put it – are still relevant today, despite it being one of the first operas ever written.  

Skiba said that the voice faculty selected the opera with the aim of giving all students in the program an opportunity to perform based on their individual strengths. 

“We look at what will really feature our students, what will challenge them,” Skiba said. “Something that won’t stretch [the students] too far but stretch [them] enough to grow and develop.” 

With only 100 seats available for each performance, Skiba said audiences can expect “The Coronation of Poppea” to be an intimate and gripping experience.  

“To be that close to the singers is very cool,” said Skiba. “There’s a power in the human voice. That’s what I like about opera … it’s the human instrument pushed to its fullest.” 

With rehearsals occurring on a busy five-day-a-week schedule since August, the cast and crew seem not to have been fazed. According to Skiba, “the students are doing a wonderful job” with the material.  

The show will be sung in the original Italian with English supertitles projected. Performances will take place from the evening of Nov. 4 until the afternoon of Nov. 6. 

While the Nov. 5 matinee is sold out, tickets are still available for the other three performances. More information can be found on Playhouse Square’s website.