As part of their biannual series, the Eastman Opera Theater is putting on a production of Kirke Mechem?s opera, ?Tartuffe.? The opera is based on a story by the same name written by French writer Moliere. Like ?The Turn of the Screw,? which the Eastman Opera Theater put on last semester, Tartuffe is an intense tragedy.
The opera tells the story of Orgon and his family, and their encounter with the ?holy man? Tartuffe. Tartuffe, as a Rasputin-like character, befriends the family with malicious intent. Infatuated with Orgon?s wife, Tartuffe gains the trust of the family so as to seduce the woman.
Tartuffe claims to be impoverished and abuses Orgon?s hospitality. Orgon provides the monk with the deed to his house and his daughter?s hand in marriage. Although the wandering prophet dupes Orgon, his family refuses to revere Tartuffe with the same fervor.
Despite their best efforts they can?t convince Orgon to change his mind. In reaction to his skeptical family, Orgon disinherits them and makes Tartuffe his sole heir.
By the time that Orgon realizes Tartuffe is a con man, he has been cheated out of nearly everything he owns. Eventually, not abandoning their loyalty to their foolish patriarch, Orgon?s family manages to reacquire the possessions he was tricked out of.
They dress up as police and royalty and get rid of Tartuffe for good.
The Opera made its world premiere in San Francisco in 1980 and was immediately successful. It remains Mechem?s most popular work, with over 200 separate productions staged since its composition twenty years ago.
The Opera will be sung in English, alleviating most novice opera fans? problem of not being able to understand what is happening.
?There?s no language barrier,? senior vocal performance major Beth Slack said. ?The opera will be accessible to everyone.?
Also in this production, the opera has been slightly modernized from its original mid-17th century setting to the Rococo period of mid-18th century France.
Guest conductor Peter Grunberg, former music director of the San Francisco Opera, will lead the Eastman Philharmonia for the performance.
There will be two casts, both composed of Eastman voice students. Patrick Howle and Wade Woodward will play the role of Tartuffe, and Gregory Brookes and David Wannen will play the role of Orgon.
Performances will occur at 8 p.m. April 5-8 and at 2 p.m. on April 8, all in the Eastman Theatre. Tickets are on sale for all performances at the Eastman Theatre box office.