Opera Workshop Presents World Premiere of ‘Midsummer Night’s Music’

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Opera Workshop at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is proud to present the world premiere of “Midsummer Night’s Music.” The comedic play within a play debuts Friday, Oct. 25, and Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center.

Adapted and directed by Dr. Ellen Denham, Professional Assistant Professor of Music, Opera Workshop, and Voice, this brand-new comedy combines the text of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with the music of Henry Purcell, an English Baroque composer. The production features nine singers and a collaborative faculty pianist, Dr. Sangmi Lim.

“Shakespeare never gets old. His comedies are tons of fun and just as relevant today as they were in his time,” said Denham. “We hope the audience will be entertained by the beautiful music and classic comedy. Purcell’s own sense of wit shines through in his solo songs and humorous ‘catches,’ or rounds.”   

The story follows a group of modern-day actors rehearsing scenes from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Within the Shakespearian play, the spotlight focuses on two groups: the rustics and the fairies. Sammy Buentello, an Islander freshman, will play Jack, a fledgling actor who plays Peaseblossom, a fairy of Queen Titania’s court.

“Jack’s more of a newcomer. He’s excited to be there and work with everyone. He knows he loves acting,” said Buentello, a Mission, Texas, native.

Skylyn Bennett, an Islander junior from Victoria, Texas, will play Candace, the dancer of the acting group, and Puck, a mischievous sprite who lives to create as much havoc as possible.

“This is my third Opera Workshop production,” said Bennett, who has also performed in “Pinstripe Harry’s Tea Room Cabaret” and “Pinocchio.” “By the time it’s opening night, it’ll be like riding a bike because you’ve spent hours in rehearsal, learning your lines, remembering the songs, and getting the dances down.”

According to Denham, the Island University’s Opera Workshop is unique because each performance is written to showcase every student. In “Midsummer Night’s Music,” each student will perform in a group number and everyone has a solo that was selected to highlight each student’s talent.

“What’s so great about what we do here is that we work with the resources we have to give opportunities and experiences necessary for students to develop professional skills,” said Denham, who has a professional background in writing. “The main goal is to give everyone a role and a song that suits their voices. That’s how they’re going to learn and improve.”

“Midsummer Night’s Music” tickets costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $5 for students and military with proper ID. Tickets are available at the box office on the day of the performance. 

Additional Information

Dr. Ellen Denham will present on the challenges and solutions for developing a collegiate opera program at the National Opera Association’s 65th Annual National Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on Jan. 8-11, 2020.