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Margaret Ball will be coming to Corner Brook to perform the role of the cold-hearted Princess in the Bay of Islands Musical Arts Chorus opera production of Giacomo Puccini’s “Sister Angelica.”
CORNER BROOK — An opera is certainly a rarity for Corner Brook, but Margaret Ball believes a better production could not have been chosen to pique interest in the musical genre this fall.
For the first time in Corner Brook, a fully staged opera is being offered by a local musical company as the Bay of Islands Musical Arts Chorus gets set to produce “Sister Angelica.”
The opera by Giacomo Puccini will be staged at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19.
Ball, an associate professor in theatre at the University of East Strausberg in Pennsylvania, will be coming to Corner Brook to perform the role of the cold-hearted Princess. The Princess is the aunt of the title character, who has been sent to a convent after becoming an unwed mother seven years before.
The opera will be sung in Italian, but there will be an English translation projected for the audience — which is standard in most opera houses these days.
Ball said the greatness of Puccini’s work is his uncanny ability to develop his characters and the plot with the music itself. This opera in particular, she said, could be conveyed even without the translation.
“It actually works better when it’s in Italian,” Ball said in a recent phone interview from Pennsylvania. “You really do understand who these characters are and what’s going on.”
Not all operas are like that, said the native of British Columbia.
“Somehow, Puccini was able to balance the theatre and the music,” she said. “You have this glorious music that really supports the drama and the story that is going on.”
Ball has performed this role before, but did it when she was in her mid-to late 20s.
The contralto said she can’t wait to bring her expanded life experiences along with her low voice in revisiting the role of the crooked aunt.
“Sister Angelica” will be produced under the direction of Michael Waller, a theatre professor at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, and will be under the musical direction of Jennifer Matthews, founder of the Bay of Islands Musical Arts Chorus.
Ball has crossed artistic paths with Matthews many times in the last two decades and said Matthews never knew she had played The Princess when she asked her several months ago to come perform it in Corner Brook.
“I’m looking forward to getting to work it now with Jenny as well because she has such a mastery of the Italian repertoire,” said Ball.
The lead role of Sister Angelica will be performed by soprano Antonina Ermolenko from New York.
“She has an amazing voice and you really need a special voice to play this role of Angelica,” Ball said of Ermolenko.
“It has to have beauty, it has to have a little weight and it has to have a magnificent range. Jenny is really lucky she was able to get her to come up and do this.”
Corner Brook’s Wendy Woodland and Michaela O’Connor also have roles in the lyric tragedy, while many other members of Bay of Islands Musical Arts’ adult and children’s chorus will also be involved.
Matthews said it’s a beautiful and poignant opera.
“Our leading ladies are very special singers/actors, as are the immensely talented singers we have right here in Corner Brook.”