JAN. 22, 2001

CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu


Opera Theatre will present scenes from the operetta "Ernest Worthing"

The CSUB Singers' Opera Theatre will present scenes from the operetta "Ernest Worthing" by John Biggs, on Friday, Jan. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Dore Theater.

The light opera is based on the play by Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest." Peggy Sears is the musical and stage director, and Charles Badami is the pianist. Costumes and sets are by Roger Upton. The operetta is sung in English.

Irish-born Oscar Wilde was one of the first celebrities to be known just for being known. He wore outrageous clothes, hung out with what he called the "beautiful people," said and did shocking and amusing things. Occasionally he would write plays and novels, and even more occasionally he would take a full-time writing job with a journal, but this never lasted long.

His play "The Importance of Being Earnest" was written in one of his most productive times - 1890-1895 - as was his famous novel, "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

"The Importance of Being Earnest" is the story of two young friends, Jack and Algernon and their sweethearts, Gwendolyn and Cecily. Miss Prism, who is Cecily's governess, Lady Bracknell, who is Gwendolyn's mother and the vicar, the Rev. Chasuble, round out the cast.

The play has been set to music by Ventura-based composer John Biggs in the spirit of American composers such as Samuel Barber. The style is tonal and triadic, but definitely classical in its idiom.

"Ernest Worthing," as the operetta is called, is not a true opera in that it has musical numbers interspersed with dialogue. (Operas are typically sung in their entirety.)

"It is set in three acts like the play," Sears said. "Our show includes all of Act I, and scenes from Act II and Act III. We will have narration to fill in the blanks. Our singers are all CSUB students. Rusty Chow is Ernest, Mark Waterman is Algernon, Nicola Hennen is Gwendolyn, and Jennifer Burnham is Cecily. Lady Bracknell is played by Michele Spaid, and Miss Prism and Rev. Chasuble are played by Leslie Roberts and Larry Fish respectively." The performance lasts about 90 minutes, she said.

On Thursday morning, Jan. 25, a 9:30 a.m. show will be presented to GATE students from the Kern High School District.

Ticket prices are $6 for the general public and $4 for students, children and seniors. For more information, please call CSUB's Performing Arts Department at 661/664-3093.