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The Flor-Ala

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One-act opera brought to Norton

Whitney Veazey
Preston Cox and Macey Vandiver as Virgil and Flora.

The University of North Alabama School of the Arts brought the Golden Apple one-act opera to the stage of Norton Auditorium on April 19 and 20. The performance, directed by Dr. Colleen Beucher, Visiting Director of Opera at UNA, marks the completion of a semester’s worth of hard work from the UNA Department of Music.

The storyline of Golden Apple provides the audience with the story of how the renowned Latin poet, Vergil, composed the famed poem, the Aeneid. At the launch of the storyline, the audience sees Vergil incredibly frustrated with his writing. He has been commissioned to write a poem for the Roman Emperor and he is struggling to complete the work to his liking. After he speaks with his servant, Flora, who gives him a potion to drink in order to help him recall the tale of Aeneas and Queen Dido, the main characters of his story. Throughout the rest of the performance, the audience sees Vergil’s recollection of events, and how every element of his story develops over time; the characters and scenes within his poem grow from robotic, near lifeless placeholders, into vibrant and important facets of each setting. After working through the quirks and details of his story, he then awakes from his potion-induced slumber to finish writing his poem in the real world. The performance was a comedic and sarcastic parody of these events that found itself including a wide variety of modern references.

Golden Apple, composed by Bruce Trinkley and written by Jason Charnesky, is the second piece of a trilogy called “Ever Since Eve”. It was completed in 1999, when it won the second place prize in the National Opera Association’s Chamber Opera Competition. Trinkley spent much of his career as a composer, conductor and arranger at Pennsylvania State University, where he also was the Director of the Penn State Glee Club. 

Trinkley was in attendance for the performance on the 19th, giving the performers the rare opportunity to perform their opera in front of its living composer. Dr. Beucher said that her performers handled it well. Even so, she also said that the cast improved upon themselves on the second night. 

“Every night we just improved and improved,” said Dr. Beucher. “It is always exciting to kind of peak on your last performance.”

The orchestral side of the performance was conducted by Dr. Sara Baird, the former dean of UNA’s College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering, who echoed Dr. Beucher’s sentiment.

“We just keep getting better and better,” said Dr. Baird. “I am just so pleased with us.”

In spite of setbacks early on in the semester due to January’s inclement weather, the cast of Golden Apple did well to prepare for their roles in the opera. Her and her performers put together the entire performance in a greatly condensed time period due to the impact of the weather.

One of the leading characters of the performance, Vergil, was played by Preston Cox, a junior at UNA majoring in Music Performance. They said that the original character of Vergil did not have many motives for his actions, which allowed them to portray the character in a more personal manner.

The process of working with Dr. Beucher was a great experience according to Cox. “It was super smooth because it was so organized,” they said. “She [Dr. Beucher] sets everything out, like when we need to have it learned.” 

Cox also said that, even though the cast was not able to work with Dr. Baird until closer to the performances, she helped merge both the opera players and the orchestra well. “It was a very organized and smooth experience.”

The character of Flora was played by Macey Vandiver, a senior Music Education major at UNA. She said that she greatly enjoyed playing Flora’s character because of how much the character differed from her own personality.

“Flora is Vergil’s servant, but she is super sassy and sarcastic,” said Vandiver. “That’s not how I normally am, so it was really fun to get into that character and to portray that.

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About the Contributors
Trevor Mickle
Trevor Mickle, A&E Editor
Trevor is a freshman student from Jemison, Alabama, majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Digital Media Production. Trevor is excited to get involved on campus help keep students informed on important topics in our community.
Whitney Veazey
Whitney Veazey, Chief Photographer
Whitney is a sophomore from Greenville, Ala. She is working towards a BFA with a concentration in photography. Whitney started at The Flor-Ala in Fall 2022 as a staff writer/photographer and is currently serving as chief photographer.

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