Opera star Sam Ramey, left, works with Wichita State students Andrew Simpson and Lily Guerrero for an upcoming performance.
Photo: Courtesy
World-renowned singer to perform in Wichita State opera
Sep 27, 2013 12:00 AM | Print

World-renowned bass-baritone and Wichita State University alumnus Samuel Ramey will co-direct and perform in WSU's production of the classic American opera "Susannah."

The performance is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 17-Oct. 19, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, in Miller Concert Hall, Duerksen Fine Arts Center. General admission is $16, $14 for military and seniors, $6 for non-WSU students and free for WSU students with ID.

The appearance of Ramey, who is in his second year of residency at WSU as a Distinguished Visiting Artist, is a special treat for regular opera-goers and a great opportunity for those who have never attended an opera.

Marie Allyn King
Marie Allyn King

"'Susannah' is a perfect introduction to opera," said Marie Allyn King, WSU's director of opera. "It's in English, so it is very accessible. If your taste in movies runs towards drama, then Susannah is for you."

Also adding to the accessibility of "Susannah" is the familiarity of the story.

Written in 1955 by playwright Carlisle Floyd, the opera is based on the biblical tale of Susannah and the Elders. Set in Appalachia, the story revolves around young Susannah, an innocent country girl who lives with her brother, and the arrival of a charismatic preacher, Olin Blitch, played by Ramey in alternating performances.

When the village elders accidentally spy Susannah bathing in the woods, they accuse her of wickedness. Reverend Blitch goes to her home to pray for her soul, but is overcome with lust instead. The story ends tragically after Susannah's brother kills Blitch and the townsfolk try to drive her off. Susannah resists, however, shotgun in hand, effectively severing her ties to the community.

In addition to Ramey's performance (on Friday and Sunday), the cast will include WSU graduate students and undergraduate singers.

Contrary to stereotype, formal attire is not a prerequisite for attending opera, King added.

"Opera can be a festive occasion, and some people like to dress up," she said, "but today opera is for everyone. "'Sussanah' will be a really great experience, even if you come in jeans."

King also suggests picking up tickets early to avoid the rush. Tickets are available now at the Fine Arts Box Office noon-5 p.m. weekdays in the lobby of Duerksen Fine Arts Center at Wichita State.

Contact the box office at 316-978-3233, or purchase tickets online.

Students with ID must buy their tickets at the Box Office.

Created on Sep 27, 2013 12:00 AM; Last modified on Sep 3, 2014 4:25 PM
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