Todd Walters as Mercury in WSU Opera and Musical Theatre's production of "La Calisto."
Photo: Courtesy
Student crowds in one more opera before graduation
May 14, 2008 2:02 PM | Print

Todd Walters, soon to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, might not make the walk for graduation. Commencement comes the day after his two-night leading role in Opera Kansas' production of "The Music Master" by G.B. Pergolesi.

Todd Walters

"The Music Master," a comic one-act opera, has other WSU ties, too. One of Walters' School of Music mentors, Marie King, is stage directing, and Kerry Moss, a WSU alumna who earned her master's in music and is an adjunct instructor, has the female lead. Vanessa Whalen, a frequent accompanist for WSU faculty and students, is also in the cast.

Opera Kansas director Ed Ehinger appears as a slightly villainous opera house impresario who attempts to steal away a female student of the voice teacher (Walters).

King, director of WSU Opera and Musical Theatre, said Ehinger became aware of Walters' fine singing and professionalism through the Opera Kansas chorus for "Amahl and the Night Visitors." "The Music Master" is a good part for him.

"Todd was a natural choice for the role of the tenor voice teacher," said King. During his undergraduate years, Walters' vocal talent also has ensured his importance to the WSU opera program, King said.

"While just a sophomore, Todd had a lead role in 'The Merry Widow' and featured parts in 'The Tales of Hoffmann,'" she said. "Over the years, his lyric tenor has been heard in a wide variety of music, from mid-Baroque (as Mercury in 'La Calisto') through contemporary (as Laurie in 'Little Women')." He also portrayed Adam in "Eve's Odds."

For Walters, the opportunity to work with the professional opera company – even as he faced his own finals and graduate school auditions – was too good to pass up. The simplicity of this opera's storyline and presentation appealed to him, too.

"It's just a magical little story," said Walters.

Marie King

King said anyone looking for something different and fun should bring the whole family to "The Music Master" ("Il Maestro di Musica"). It will be performed in English.

The action takes place in Naples in tenor Maestro Lamberto's vocal studio. Lamberto's pupil is soprano Signorina Lauretta, who is secretly enamored of the maestro. But she rebels against his demanding methods on her path to opera stardom and insists that her family's connections will get her an engagement at Signor Colagianni's opera house.

When the cynical and lecherous Colagianni shows up looking for a singer for his new opera, he is taken with Lauretta and offers to lay the opera world at her feet. In exchange, he demands that she "give her heart" to him. The story takes off from there.

Walters plays Maestro Lamberto, with Moss as Signorina Lauretta, Ehinger as Signor Colagianni and Whalen as Ottavio.

With "The Music Master" and graduation over, Walters will concentrate on the future. He grew up in Medicine Lodge, Kan., where his family still lives.

"I'm applying to graduate schools at Juilliard and Rice," said Walters. "They did take me in and heard me; that's a start to anything."

He is also auditioning for the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty. And, if he's still around Wichita, he would love to do more with Opera Kansas.

Whatever Walters does will definitely involve singing. It's what he loves and does naturally, whether in a staged opera or solo performances. He has been a featured soloist for WSU President Don Beggs close to a dozen times this academic year alone, and has sung "The National Anthem" for major sporting and other events more times than he can count.

Meanwhile, Walters is guaranteed to be around campus for a while longer. He had so much fun volunteering as a camp counselor for the 2007 Kodaly Children's Choir camp that he has signed up again for this summer's camp.

If Walters ends up staying in Wichita, he'll also no doubt continue giving tours for the outdoor sculpture collection as a docent for the Ulrich Museum of Art.

"The Music Master" is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, and Friday, May 16, at the Theatre at Prairie Pines, 4055 N. Tyler Road. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $10 for students and senior citizens. The performance, in English, is about 45 minutes and also features complimentary wine, hors d'oeuvres and light desserts.

For more information, contact Edward Ehinger at (316) 265-8834 or
Created on May 14, 2008 2:02 PM; Last modified on Jun 10, 2008 2:46 PM
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