Operatic Irregulars Prepares Special Anniversary Performance with Alumni

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MISHAWAKA--Rob Rhein, associate professor of music, is the creator and mastermind behind the annual production of Operatic Irregulars.

“It was my idea 20 years ago and there was nothing like it that existed,” Rhein said. The production always happens the weekend after Labor Day, which means performances this year will be on Sept. 10 and 11, at 7:30 p.m. on both evenings. The shows will take place in the Everest-Rohrer Auditorium, and admission is free.

 Opera is typically a larger production and requires a large space, but Rhein focuses on chamber operas, which are smaller and shorter than normal operas. Rhein plays the piano while students sing the whole play through, like a musical, but no dialogue, just singing. 

“It’s just a play on steroids,” Rhein said.        

Each evening performance consists of two to three shows that span 20 to 30 minutes and feature a small cast, some having only two singers. The production is not audition based, but rather by invitation and who Rhein thinks might be interested. 

Rhein chooses the chamber operas for that year simultaneously as he chooses the students that might be interested. 

“It’s kind of a puzzle for me,” Rhein said. “The students don’t get credit for it. It’s an extra little activity.”

This year is the 20-year anniversary, and to celebrate, Rhein invited alumni from over the last 20 years to come participate in the show. Only two of the performers will be current students at Bethel; the rest will be alumni who participated in previous years in Operatic Irregulars, some returning after over a decade. 

“I have been delighted with the response from students over the years,” Rhein said. “Some have gone on to get major opera experience . . . [and] I can say, ‘Well, they got their first opera experience in miniature at Bethel in Operatic Irregulars.’”

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