Cal State Bakersfield hosts comic opera

Cal State Bakersfield hosts comic opera

The Orchestra awaits Ronald Kean’s arrival for their Feb. 4 performance of “Albert Herring” at Cal State Bakersfield.

Martin Chang, Opinions Editor

When the various musical talents came together to perform the comedy opera “Albert Herring” at Cal State Bakersfield for students and faculty alike, it was one of the most challenging and rewarding musical undertakings for all involved.

Ronald Kean, the choir director at Bakersfield College, conducted the music with his wife Peggy Sears, who was the director and producer of the performance.

Kean said, “Between the middle of December ‘til the performance, I studied [the score] six to eight hours a day. The players told me it was the hardest thing they’ve ever done.”

David Ortiz, a recent CSUB graduate and player of the lead role, said, “It was difficult. I’ve never had an experience like this. It was so difficult having an accompaniment that doesn’t help you out with the melody. After every single rehearsal, it beats you up. If you don’t go home crying sometimes [you haven’t put the work in.]”

Sears said that preparing for the performance was “delightful and tortuous. It was a ton of work, and a lot of detail, and it used every part of everybody’s brain. We were exhausted at the end of every rehearsal.”

For Robert Hamilton, a CSUB student who played the brash said, he found the challenge “exciting.” He said, “I get to become somebody new. I take it on full force.”

Hamilton particularly enjoys the process of becoming and playing a character. He said, “I love when I first get my role, and then I read my description of who my character is, and I have to figure out a way of becoming this character. My character was kind of macho, a ladies man. That was out of character for me. I’m not usually like that in regular life, so that was really fun.”

Ortiz agrees. He said, “The acting [is the most fun]. Once we get the character down, just becoming the character itself, the blocking, the walking onstage, it just becomes you, and you have become the character for it to work.”

Both Hamilton and Ortiz said that the thing that made this music stand out was the composer Benjamin Britten. Ortiz said he is “out there” both in terms of style and challenge.

Sears said on the subject of Britten, “It’s a very funny show. It’s very universal. Britten is very dramatic. People laugh at just when the harp and flute plays at the beginning of an aria. Because just the orchestration was cute, you knew what was coming. It’s like movie music.”

The challenge of the performance brought the musicians together. Hamilton said, “the most fun for me was getting together with all my new cast members, and working out this challenging opera together, and then coming together with the final product and perform it for the audience.”

Kean also felt this feeling of camaraderie while he conducted and trained the musicians.

Kean said, “The wonderful thing about it is, it was so difficult that every single player was pulling for everybody else. You could just feel it. We had such camaraderie with each other and with me to them because I understood how difficult it was.

“Every now and then you would hear ‘oh I’m sorry I missed that’ and I would say ‘don’t apologize, we’ll fix it next time around,’ because I know how difficult it was and everyone tried their best.”

At the end of the final chord of the last night, I tapped my hands to applaud and they did the same back to me.

“So it was a wonderful marriage of conductor and orchestra and with the singers the same way. We all felt wonderful towards each other. It was a big team effort.”