Mishawaka, Ind. -- On Sept. 7 and 8, the Operatic Irregulars will be performing in the Everest-Rohrer Chapel; both nights will consist of two short, comedic operas: “A Game of Chance,” by Seymour Barab and “Gallantry,” by Douglas Moore. The performances will begin at 7:30 each evening, and admission is free.
Each [opera] takes only four singers,” said Rob Rhein, associate professor of music. “[The operas] were originally written for staging with an orchestra, but there is an arrangement for just a piano, so we don’t have to get instrumentalists. I will be at the piano, the singers will be on stage, and each show is a little less than a half-hour.”“My favorite thing is probably... the fact that the story is told through the music,” said Wesley Lantz, a 2018 Bethel graduate who will be performing in “Gallantry.” “You can almost hear your character in the music. In one of his songs, Lantz said he is waking up, but under anesthesia. “So there’s this ridiculous aria that is just over the top, and the music is just very airy and light, and a little bit on the goofy side,” he said. Lantz went on to say that his character is sort of found in that music, which allowed him to portray the character the way it’s written in the music. “It’s just this fun union of the way the opera was written and you as the actor and the singer bringing that in, and it’s just a really, really cool moment." Rhein is going on almost two decades of these performances. “I started it 18 years ago because we had some very talented students that had never done anything in opera, which is no big deal for an actor, but for someone who’s a serious singer, the opera world is a very important realm,” he said. The name, Operatic Irregulars, Rhein said, was inspired by the many irregular factors that surround the production: it is not part of his teaching load or the students’ academic load, it is something to do for the sake of the experience and the fun of it, there is no admission fee, and they operate “basically without a budget” and thus primarily make use of materials Bethel already has. Rhein also mentioned that they do not use electronic amplification. “That’s part of the educational aspect of this,” added Rhein. “In real opera, those performances can take place in very large halls, and there’s no amplification there either, singing to three or even 4,000 people, and that’s why opera singers tend to have loud voices. We don’t have the loud voices, but I do work with the students so that they know that we’re going to be traditional, and they will simply have to project [their voices].” “I used to think that opera was very boring and something that I would never ever be interested in,” said Lantz. “But then I gave it a try, and I absolutely love it. Operatic Irregulars is really nice, because it’s extremely accessible for people who have absolutely no experience with opera at all. Both of [the pieces being performed] are in English, they’re both very easily understood and easy to follow... I would encourage anybody to see it, regardless of your interest level in opera.”