“The Mother of Us All” UNT Opera

The final dress rehearsal for the University of North Texas Opera’s production of “The Mother of Us All” by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson at the Lyric Theater on February 24 was a success.  Though there was a small audience, the performers acted as if they were singing to a full house.

The opera focused on the hard work of suffragette Susan B. Anthony, which made it very political. There was a performance earlier this semester called “Women’s Voices” which was also centered toward feminism and human rights.

“Opera is not usually about issues and politics,” Visiting UNT Opera Director David Ward said. “It’s usually about emotions and hatred and love and jealousy and relationships, but it’s not usually about politics.”

Though the opera program’s goal is not to be extremely political, Ward said that maestro Stephen Dubberly chose this specific opera to place emphasis on the importance of this year’s election. Dubberly encouraged everyone to vote in the March 1 primary before starting his conducting.

“Even the women,” Dubberly said, joking about the content of the opera.

The 69-year-old opera followed Susan B. Anthony around in her quest for women to gain the right to vote. Although it focused on Anthony, other historical figures were present, such as Ulysses S. Grant.

First year master’s student Brittany Jones played the important role of Susan B. in the second cast. The opera might have focused on the right to vote, but Jones said that they tried to tie in other open minded political statements, such as homosexuality. The performers tried to create a subtly romantic undertone for Anthony and her close friend Anne.

“It’s not just love for someone who is not the same color or the same religion or culture or gender; it’s love for all,” said Jones.

Ward said that the opera program does about three shows a year. With the exception of a production of Don Giovanni in the fall, all of the shows are double cast. Because Don Giovanni is such a popular show, Dubberly and Ward decided to have a triple cast. This gives more students opportunities to perform.

Claire Choquette plays Susan B.’s close friend Anne in the first cast of the opera. She went to the dress rehearsal for this cast to support her fellow performers. After the show was over, Choquette was greeting the other audience members and thanking them for coming to the show.

“This is an opportunity to use your voice in a real show setting,” Choquette said. “It’s a really supportive environment.”

The opening night for the show is Friday, February 26 at 8 P.M. at the Lyric Theater in the Murchison Performing Arts Center on the UNT campus. There is a matinee performance on Sunday, February 28 at 3 P.M, and Friday and Sunday performances the following week at the same time.

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