This weekend, the UConn music department put on a production of “Speed Dating Tonight!,” a comedic opera that looks at several characters as they try to find love at a speed dating bar. Far from a traditional opera, this production focuses on more modern ideas and motifs. Think less of Viking hats and more of a traditional sitcom.
All the characters presented in “Speed Dating Tonight!” carried their own special stories that had you relate to them on various levels. Originally, the cast was written to have 25 daters, but as time went on the show accumulated over 90 characters. This allows the production of the play to vary each time, meaning that you could have over 50 cast members per production.
Due to the smaller nature of the cast, UConn’s production showcased over 15 characters each with their own personality and musical number. The phrase “musical number” may have conjured up some images of your favorite musicals and some of their characters, but operas are considerably different from musicals. Operas generally tend to be dramas and unlike musicals, which have large chunks of dialogue with singing interspersed, almost every line in an opera is sung.
In ‘Speed Dating Tonight!,” our characters are all members of a bar called ‘Muse’ that’s run by three staff members: a confident matchmaker, a daydreamer bartender and their laidback server. All the daters we are introduced to have qualities of people most everyone knows: the girl who talks too much about her ex, the stoner who’s completely out of touch and a vibrant furry (okay the last one may not be so common). Each character brings a special air of charisma to them that makes them feel larger than life. Often chaotic, the daters all have a red or green flag that makes them stand out.
The operatic performance by the actors was powerful with their voices carrying clear through the theatre with vibrancy and vibrato. When I got the chance to talk with one of the actors, Nadia Aguilar-Steinberg, a fourth-semester Doctor of Musical Arts major, I could see just how passionate everyone was about their roles.
“Putting this together was extremely fun because as you can see the performance was outside of the box. People usually tend to see opera as boring or something for older people, rich people. But we are really working here to make opera more approachable,” Aguilar-Steinberg said.
While the opera is not something everyone may enjoy, the approach to making it more modern has ushered in a new age of viewers who can cast aside the stereotypes normally associated with the genre. Students as well as older audience members were present on Friday evening, with both age groups laughing and enjoying the performance.
Kayleigh Myers, a fourth-semester studio arts major, felt like the opera would be something that she’d go back and visit again.
“I definitely felt like it was something that I would watch more often if it was funny,” Myers said about the genre.
“Speed Dating Tonight!” has an appeal that can only be described in song, not words. To learn more about upcoming UConn Music events, visit their website.