Opera and college students are two things that typically wouldn't mix together.
Head to a performance by the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre, however, and you might think otherwise.
This past weekend, the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre put on a production of Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville," a hilariously heart-warming story of love, jealousy and the antics of one figaro, Seville's renowned barber and musician.
Performed at the Bijou Theatre in downtown Knoxville, both cast and crew were composed of students from the University of Tennessee.
James Marvel, opera director and UT professor, is in his third season with the UTOT and said he was excited to produce a comedy this year. The production, set in the 17th century, was full of slapstick humor, inside jokes and the occasional modern-day reference.
"The experience was so different," Marvel said. "Last year, we performed two tragedies, but this year we chose comedy instead. The process of discovery involved in this is unique. If you do it safely, it's just not funny. It's about being bold and taking risks."
Although the show was performed in Italian, the cast managed to convey the humor well, pulling in elements of Elvis Presley in addition to neon lights, risqué innuendos and modern-day dance moves.
The audience appreciated this, with laughter filling the theater multiple times during the show.
Madelyn Pierce, junior in vocal music education, has been to several performances of UT Opera Theatre and was impressed by how accessible the opera was to all generations of audience members.
"This is the best opera I've seen," Pierce said. "It was so accessible – it definitely appeals to a wider audience, and the cast was so talented. I'm really proud of them."
Each vocalist displayed phenomenal talent, ranging from the highest soprano to the lowest bass. Each member of the cast showed exceptional ability as they raced around on the stage while singing.
Talent wasn't just limited to what could be seen onstage, however. Conducted by Kevin Class, an orchestra made up of 23 different UT students provided the musical soundtrack for the evening.
Ashton Williams, a junior in studio music and jazz and double bass performance who served as principal bassist for the show, said he was impressed by the high caliber of both vocalists and orchestra musicians.
"These are some of the best collegiate performers in the state," Williams said. "The dedication they brought to the table is incredible, and Kevin Class is world-class."
The success of any show depends on how the cast and crew work together, and Will Sliger, senior in vocal performance and playing the role of Fiorello, said he felt this was key to "The Barber of Seville's" success.
"The cast had a great vibe," Sliger said. "Everything was so smooth. We just clicked."
Although this semester's production is over, the UT Opera Theatre puts on two productions per year and will be producing Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" this upcoming April.