The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Meadows Opera Ensemble shows off their individual, unique flairs

Photo+credit%3A+Meredith+Welborn
Photo credit: Meredith Welborn

33 students showed off their creative personalities in the Bob Hope Lobby of the Meadows School of the Arts on Friday, Sept. 20.

“I wanted to bring opera and musical theatre out of a theatre itself and put it in front of the public during the day in an open space where people would encounter this music and these performances,” Hank Hammett, Director of Lyric Theatre and Head of Vocal Ensembles and Conducting, said. “Even if they just happened upon the space simply because they were walking by.”

Hammett started the Opera Free For All when he became the Director of the Meadows Opera Theatre 11 years ago. Before this event began, this type of performance was tucked away in a small black box theater in Meadows, Hammett said.

This showcase was the first Opera Free For All of the year – an event that has become a tradition over the past couple of years for the Meadows Opera Ensemble.

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Performers looked audience members in the eyes as they sang and showed off their individual personalities. Photo credit: Meredith Welborn

Unlike the typical performances for these Meadows students, the Opera Free For All allows the audience to hear every member of the ensemble perform. Each of the 33 cast members had 60 seconds to perform a song of their choosing.

“I have challenged them to get up and say, ‘this is who I am as a singing actor,’ in only 60 seconds,” Hammett said.

The different acts ranged from more traditional pieces, including work from Mozart and Puccini, to modern anthems from Thoroughly Modern Millie. The performance’s variety of songs showed the audience that the Meadows Opera Ensemble is rich with different personalities.

Cast members also enjoyed this challenge. Senior Andy Gambini performed ­­­­“You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton. At the end of his 60 seconds, the whole ensemble joined in to sing with him.

“This is one of the few performances where I can just genuinely have fun,” Gambini said. “I’ve been singing this song in the shower since high school, so I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to have fun with this!’”

Junior Nicole Daniels shared Gambini’s strategy. Daniels performed “My Man” from the musical Funny Girl and has been singing this song for years as well.

“For this performance, I was like, ‘Okay, what do I know?’” Daniels said. “Also, I just love Streisand, and she has the most popular version of this song.”

Hammet said that the Opera Free For All has gained a following over the past couple of years. The audience includes patrons who frequent these performances and passersby who stop to listen, due to its open, central location.

Hammett also said that the relationship between the audience and the performers is essential for this event.

“The love passed back between the young artists and the folks in the audience was particularly rewarding and fantastic today for everyone involved! Ultimately it’s the audience that ignites a performance!” Hammett said.

The next Opera Free For All will be held on Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. in the Bob Hope Lobby.

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