Senior Kyra Klontz knows that opera is not one of the most popular modes of entertainment nowadays. But she also knows that the Miami Opera Theater’s performance of Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” is far from the typical opera.
“I think it’s a fabulous show,” said Klontz, who plays Mrs. Segstrom, one of the Liebeslieders that act as a Greek chorus of sorts. “I think that people who maybe are sort of turned away when they hear the term ‘opera’ would still enjoy this show.”
In fact, this show has very little in common with what people typically think of as opera. If anything, it’s more of a musical.
And, it’s in English.
“I love that it’s in English because I think that makes it more accessible to people and hopefully will draw more of a crowd,” said Klontz.
Set in turn-of-the-century Sweden, the show revolves around the recent marriage of middle-aged Fredrik Egerman and his 18-year-old wife Anne. The musical also follows actress Desiree Armfeldt, who had had an affair with Fredrik a number of years ago and now has a young daughter, Fredrika. “A Little Night Music” traces the tangled web of romances that inform the lives of these characters.
“This is Sondheim’s most popular musical,” said music director and conductor Ben Smolder. “It played longer than any of his other musicals on Broadway — over 600 performances.”
Of course, more goes into choosing an opera than its popularity. According to Smolder, one of the most important things to take into consideration is the strength of the students.
“When I was choosing between four or five shows, I would imagine the students we have in these various roles,” he said. “When we got to ‘A Little Night Music,’ I thought, this is the perfect show for this group of students.”
Miami’s Opera program seeks to choose productions that not only suit the strengths of its students, but also appeal to the broader Miami community. Though sometimes, it can be difficult.
“It would be nice to have more students attend the shows because we do work so hard every single day that we don’t want it to go unnoticed,” said senior Kayla Burley, who plays Mrs. Anderssen, another Liebeslieder.
And the production takes up a lot of time. Performers started receiving vocal coaching in mid-October but didn’t start rehearsals until the final week of J-term. Since the semester started, they’ve rehearsed for several hours nearly every day.
“It’s kind of a short production period for us,” said junior Ali Rose Hotz, who plays Anne Egerman. “Last year we had from the week before classes started until April. So it’s a little bit shorter, but it’s in a really good place.”
Because of the difference between this show and many other operas, it has been slightly more challenging for the cast.
“It’s interesting for us because there’s more spoken dialogue than is usually found in operas,” said Hotz. “It’s a new situation for us to be in to have to do more dialogue.”
Although “A Little Night Music” is ultimately a comedy of errors, Hotz also sees it as a highly moving piece.
“I think what is so special about this is that it’s really funny, but it also has so many poignant moments,” she said. “Even though you’re laughing through a lot of it, there’s still a lot of cathartic moments for the audience to really get involved in.”
Miami Opera Theater will be performing “A Little Night Music” at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 23, 24 and 25 in Wilks Theater. Tickets are $10 for students and $15 for the general public and can be purchased at the Miami Box Office online or at the door.