Nebraska’s Elysia Arntzen will premiere her first opera at 7 p.m. March 31 in Kimball Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.
The program, “The Cask of Amontillado,” is based on a short story of the same name and written by Edgar Allen Poe. The story is about a man who gets revenge on another man after an insult. The original story is only about five pages long, and is unclear on what the two men were fighting about or who they are.
“In my adaptation, I have clarified some of these things: the two men are wine connoisseurs, the younger one (Fortunato) is constantly belittling the older one (Montresor), Montresor finally snaps and decides he must rid himself of Fortunato,” Arntzen said. “I also have added a few characters, who are mentioned in Poe’s story but are not really part of the action: Fortunato’s wife, and Montresor’s servants. The servants have their own secondary storyline in which they go off and enjoy Carnival.”
Arntzen, who will also be directing the production, had previously adapted some of Poe’s texts, including her baritone song cycle, “To Whom.” She also adapted another short story, Poe’s “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” into a short chamber opera titled “Dinner at the Maison de Santé.”
“I have always been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and enjoy setting his text to music,” Arntzen said. “I have also always had the urge to write a full-length opera.”
Arntzen is studying composition with Tyler White, professor of music. She previously studied at Ball State University, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music composition. She is also a founding member of the LNK New Music Collective.
“One question I keep getting asked is whether it is in English,” Arntzen said. “It is. This is an American opera based on a story by an American author. Many people have read the story in high school and will be familiar with it. I have expanded upon the story everyone knows, while keeping the most famous lines intact.”
“The Cask of Amontillado” will be conducted by David Galant, a graduate teaching assistant in music. The cast includes music students Tremayne Perryman, David Ricart, Mary Dowd, Caitlyn Royal, Crystal Dunning, Isaiah Kluver and Connor Husa.
Artzen will discuss composition of the opera during a pre-show talk at 6:30 p.m. March 31.