For those interested in piercingly beautiful falsettos, earth shaking baritones and storylines so ridiculous they are only rivaled by daytime soaps, but intimidated by the occasional massive running time or the Italian language synonymous with traditional opera, OperaBend presents The Old Maid and the Thief, a one-act performance with an English libretto performed by Eugene's Cascadia Opera.
The Old Maid and the Thief was written by the Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who was commissioned by NBC to write the piece specifically for the radio in 1939. By 1941, Menotti had slightly tweaked the libretto so it could be performed on stage. The piece has stayed popular for decades among colleges and workshop productions because of the English libretto and because of its relatively short 60-minute running time. The humor and story also tend to appeal to American audiences.
Former Summit High and University of Oregon grad Scott Carroll has been tapped to direct after his successful mounting of Die Fledermaus for OperaBend last year.
"The Old Maid and the Thief seemed like a natural fit and a production I would be interested in directing," Carroll says. "The score is beautiful and offers many opportunities for wonderful stage moments. The artists in this production are some of the best in Eugene and bring so much talent and dedication to their craft."
The story is about a busybody in a small town who has been alone for decades and follows her run-ins with her catty housemaid, a thieving wanderer and the town gossip. The show manages to find a delicate balance between being a dark-hearted farce and an (ahem) operatic tragedy, while also boasting some of the finest arias of the 20th century. "Steal Me, Sweet Thief" is one of the most heartrendingly beautiful arias I've ever heard. Although, it IS one of the only ones I've heard in English.
The Old Maid and the Thief is a chance to dip some toes in unfamiliar waters without feeling completely lost at the same time. The opera is inclusive to the uninitiated and is an excellent way to learn what opera in Bend is all about.
The Old Maid and the Thief
Sat., Aug. 9, 3 pm & 7 pm
COCC's Pinckney Center for the Performing Arts, 2600 NW College Way
Free, donations accepted.