‘Gondoliers’ to showcase student talent


“Gondoliers” is an operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan and features a cast of 45-50 students. High quality costumes were rented from a professional theater company for the show.

Cassandra Hays, Scene Editor

“Opera is for everyone.”

If you’ve been in the music building, you may have heard the phrase echo throughout the halls. The saying is used within the department to bring awareness to opera as an artform. Every year, CWU’s music department puts on an opera production to showcase vocal, musical and theatrical talent.

This year’s production is “Gondoliers,” an English operetta written by Gilbert and Sullivan. It will be directed by Dr. Gayla Blaisdell, associate professor of voice and opera at CWU. According to Dr. Blaisdell, the show will be a lighthearted comedy that features a cast of 45 to 50 students. The operetta takes place in Venice, Italy and features elements of drama and comedy.

The show will be performed in the Morgan Middle School auditorium. Senior Josie Thomas, assistant producer, said the school is a good common ground for their audience.

“There can be a little bit of anxiety about coming to a college campus and seeing a college show, so putting it at a middle school is nice to kind of mesh the community and college together,” Thomas said.

Morgan Middle School’s recent renovation is another reason that the operetta will be performed there, according to Dr. Blaisdell. Part of the renovation was the demolition and reconstruction of the wings on either side of the stage, which provides ample wing space for set pieces. The auditorium also has a backstage area, lighting equipment and curtains, all of which better lend themselves to a full scale production such as “Gondoliers,” according to Dr. Blaisdell.

Thomas said the cast of “Gondoliers” has been rehearsing since the beginning of January. They have been working closely with a choreographer, which according to Thomas has not been done in recent years. She said that several numbers will feature students from the dance program who will be performing solo dances in addition to full-cast choreography.

According to Dr. Blaisdell, costumes have been rented and flown out from Valley Light Opera in Massachusetts, which specializes in Gilbert and Sullivan shows. Dr. Blaisdell said the costumes will be professional grade, an element that will set this production apart from past shows. She said that costumes will be supplemented with pieces from their own costume department.

A full pit orchestra, which consists of a string section as well as wind instruments, will be directed by Nikolas Caoile. The orchestra will be performing in front of the stage to accompany the cast. According to Caoile, there are 17 members in the orchestra who have been rehearsing since the end of winter quarter.

“[“Gondoliers”] is an amazing synthesis of drama and music,” Caoile said.

Dr. Blaisdell said although opera may seem like a dying craft, it is actually one of the fastest growing art forms in the world. She encourages people to go see live performances as much as they can.

“Things happen, they’re exciting, there’s a different kind of electricity in the air,” Dr. Blaisdell said. “When you go see a movie, you know it’s going to be the same every time. When you go see a live performance, who knows? There’s going to be an element of unpredictability and spontaneity and excitement that live performance can give that you can’t get from movies and TV.”

Thomas said that vocal professors are aware that opera is not everybody’s favorite genre, so they do their best to incorporate different types of opera into the shows. She said “Gondoliers” is an enjoyable operetta for the audience due to its themes, style and the fact it is in English.

“It’s a little bit easier for people to listen to than the deep opera that can sometimes be hard to relate to,” Thomas said. “I think it shows the singer’s strength and their talent in a really nice way.”

Dr. Blaisdell said that opera can be an enriching cultural experience that can be beneficial to those who haven’t experienced it. She also said people should go see “Gondoliers” to appreciate the work that students have put in to the show.  

“These are students that are your age doing incredible roles and doing them super well and at a really high level, and you want to support them and their endeavors and check out what’s going on on campus,” Dr. Blaisdell said. “It’s great to have a bigger perspective.”

Thomas said the cast has put in a lot of effort to the production, and they would appreciate an audience to share it with. She said audience members can look forward to an entertaining show.

“I think it will be a really fun show, it’s really interesting and there are a couple of twists and turns that people won’t be expecting,” Thomas said.

Tickets for “Gondoliers” will be $10 for students with CWU ID, $12 for seniors and alumni and $15 for adults. Performances are at 7 p.m. on April 4-6, as well as 2 p.m. on April 7 in the Morgan Middle School Performing Arts Center. All proceeds from the tickets will go back to the music program.