Washington University Opera performs Final Moments

Concert last of director Jolly Stewart's WUSTL career

The Washington University Opera will thread together nine famous musical endings for a concert titled Final Moments at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 7 and 8.

“The idea is to perform a variety of pieces that all have something to do with conclusions and final moments,” says Jolly Stewart, director of the Washington University Opera in the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences. Stewart is retiring at the end of the semester.

As part of the performance, the cast of 12 will improvise a series of short scenes and transitions designed to link these disparate works into a single, coherent tale.

“It’s a practiced improvisation,” Stewart says. “We’ve been rehearsing in class, and they’ve all established characters, but no text has been written down. The show will be a little different each night.”

Opening the program will be the final duet from Der Rosenkavalier (The Knight of the Rose) (1911), the beloved comic opera by Richard Strauss (1864-1949).

Other works will include an excerpt from La traviata (1853) by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901); “Poor Jud is Daid” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma (1943); and arias from Eugene Onegin (1879) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960) by Benjamin Britten (1913-76).

Concluding the performance will be the final, madcap fugue from Verdi’s comic opera Falstaff (1893). Built on the theme of “All the world’s a joke” — a reference to the famous line “All the world’s a stage” from Shakespeare’s As You Like It Falstaff was Verdi’s last opera and thus marked the composer’s own farewell to the stage.

“It’s a wonderful, exhilarating piece,” Stewart says. “The class does it really well, and I think it makes for an appropriate ending.”

John Stewart, director of vocal activities in the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences, conducts the performance.

The cast is led by master’s candidates Stephanie Ball, Thomas Sitzler, Sarah Shipkowski, Caetlyn Van Buren and Gregory Storkan, with juniors Jennifer Klauder, Lindsay Keller, Rush Dorsett and Taylor Martin; graduating seniors Anthony Heinemann and Adam Krentz-Wee; and recent alumnus Kevin Nicoletti.

Performances — sponsored by the Department of Music — are free and open to the public and take place in Umrath Hall, located just north of the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.

For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or e-mail kschultz@artsci.wustl.edu.