When Heather Hunnicutt arrived to teach at Georgetown College in 2006, she saw a glaring need for more performance opportunities for music students.
Four years later, the chair of the department of music can custom-fit productions to her student body.
This year, she knew she had a tenor and a baritone whose voices blended beautifully in Michael Cannon and Daniel Ng, and a comedic specialist in Chuck Harris. That was the perfect formula for a production of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's The Gondoliers, with Ng and Cannon playing the title roles and Harris as The Duke of Plaza-Toro.
The operetta centers on the title characters, one of whom is thought to be a king of a fictional nation and betrothed to the daughter of the Duke. But the Gondoliers and the Duke's daughter all love others, so the trick is to keep the mood light and arrive at a happy ending.
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"It is a lively, colorful, hilarious, high-energy show," Hunnicutt says. "One of our main goals is to make opera and operetta accessible to everyone."
The Lyric Theatre Society of Georgetown College presents a show in the fall, and then a workshop production with staged scenes from numerous shows in the spring. In 2008, it presented Domenico Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage; last fall it put on a double bill of one-act operas: W.A. Mozart's The Impresario and Hunnicutt's adaptation of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel & Gretel.
This is the group's first operetta, which, Hunnicutt says, is particularly accessible to college singers.
"I love it for college students' young voices," she says. "It is good for them to practice without putting all the demands of opera on their voices. It also helps develop their stamina, which they will need when they start performing operas."
Since launching the group a few years ago, Hunnicutt has found interest not only in the students but in the audience.
"We've had a lot of people come to our shows from in and out of the college," she says. "Each year, we find we're getting more people in the audience from around Georgetown."