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Parisian flair comes to stage


The comedy opera, “The Italian Straw Hat,” composed by Nino Rota, will be open at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in the Moores Opera Center. | Courtesy of UH

“The Italian Straw Hat,” a lesser known operatic work coming from the man who wrote the film score and gave life to Francis Coppola’s classic, “The Godfather,” will have its opening night at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Moores Opera Center.

Nino Rota’s witty, comedic opera is filled with Parisian excesses and a wedding that spirals out of control. Director and producer of the Moores Opera Center Buck Ross has diligently worked with the budding musicians to create a memorable experience. He is a fan of Rota’s film scores and has been looking forward to putting on the opera.

“This is a wonderfully entertaining opera that has everything a traditional opera lover would want. It’s tuneful, very fast, very funny, not too long and with lavish costumes,” Ross said. “It’s a piece that every opera company should be doing all the time.”

For vocal performance sophomore and opera chorus member Jazmine Olwalia, the opening night of “Italian Straw Hat” is a night she has been looking forward to. Since the second week of school, every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the cast has worked hard.

“When a lot of people hear the word opera, they think of long, boring shows in foreign languages sung by an older lady who sings high notes and breaks everyone’s glasses. But this is not the case,” Olwalia said. “This opera is fun and lively and features people our age dancing and singing and having a great time.”

Putting together an opera takes more than just singers; orchestral musicians have a part to play, too. For three weeks, instrumentalists who are part of the opera’s orchestra have been sweating it out. They have to play from the dimly-lit pit with only their ears and a conductor’s baton as their guide. First-year graduate student Gisela Escobar said she was excited to have the opportunity to play as assistant principal second violinist in this light-hearted opera.

“The opera is … fun and ecstatic Italian music. The audience should expect to be very entertained and excited, not only by the theme of the opera, but also by the energy and talent that everyone is giving for this opera,” Escobar said.

New and old opera enthusiasts will find much to love about Rota’s characters.

“For those who have never been to an opera, it will feel just like going to a popular play with music,” Ross said.

More information about the opera and ticket purchasing can be found at

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