Wednesday November 2, 2016

Die Fledermaus

Die Fledermaus will take off this weekend at the University of Dayton as a high-flying collaboration between two performing arts departments.

Johann Strauss’ 1874 comic operetta, whose title is German for “bat,” will be presented Nov. 4-6 at the Boll Theatre in the University’s Kennedy Union. The operetta will be performed in English and tells of the revenge taken by Dr. Falke on his friend, Gabriel von Eisenstein, for playing a practical joke on him.

The production is the second collaboration between the University theatre, dance and performance technology program and the department of music.

The production team selected the show in January because of the available talent in the theatre and vocal areas, said Michelle Hayford, associate professor and theatre, dance and performance technology program director.

“We knew we had students who would excel in these parts,” Hayford said. “The operetta was selected with our student population in mind.”

Auditions for principal roles were held during the spring semester, while chorus roles were filled during the first two weeks of the current academic year.

A number of students also have been working behind the scenes since early May. Six students were awarded research fellowships from the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Summer Fellowship program to research set and costume design for the fall production season. The fellowship program provides undergraduate students with high-impact experiential learning opportunities, as well as on-campus summer housing and a dining allowance. It is supported through gifts to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence.

“This is the first operetta I’ve worked on and the opportunity to stay over the summer was very beneficial both for this project and for my own professional and skill development,” said Ben Jalowiec, a senior from Wood Dale, Illinois. who is majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in performance technology. “We learned how to use AutoCAD in depth for set design — a program I may work with professionally in the future — and also learned a lot about the designing process. It was an awesome opportunity to collaborate with other students and really see the process of designing a set — from research of the time period to physically building it — come together from start to finish.”

Matt Evans, technical director, Boll Theatre manager, and a lecturer in the theatre, dance and performance technology program served as a faculty mentor to the summer fellows. He said the opportunity is extremely valuable for students from all different backgrounds and majors.

“This is an experiential-learning opportunity in which students are learning skills hands-on and witnessing their research come to life,” Evans said. “As opposed to simply sitting in a classroom, learning in a passive way, students are engaged with the process as they learn real-life skills and collaborate on a project they can watch come full circle.”

Regarding the show itself, Evans said the audience should expect an entertaining evening.

“The audience should expect to see talent that is coming directly from our student community and what they created for this particular production,” Evans said. “It’s a collaboration between various artists including musicians, vocalists, designers, and technicians, and to get that much creativity in a room all at once is truly is remarkable.”

Minnita Daniel-Cox, artistic director of opera workshop and assistant professor of music, also stressed the importance of this collaborative experience for students from all areas of the University.

“It is imperative we give all of our students the professional experience of working on a production and the whole gamut of lessons that come with that process,” Daniel-Cox said. “It takes time and training to learn to collaborate with costuming, set designers and a number of different directors. This process allows our students to apply the knowledge they are gaining. Working and learning is only the beginning; the application of knowledge is what it’s really about. It’s really about learning to deliver under the lights.”

Daniel-Cox encourages people of all backgrounds to see Die Fledermaus regardless of their familiarity with operettas.

“I really want people to understand that great music is great music, and that if you love music, you’re going to enjoy this operetta,” she said.

Die Fledermaus will be presented Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission; $8 with a University ID. For tickets, contact the University Box Office at 937-229-2545 or visit tickets.udayton.edu.

- Alex Burchfield ’16, communication assistant, College of Arts and Sciences

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