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K-State Today

March 3, 2016

K-State Theatre's season continues with dramatic flair

Submitted by Darrington Clark

K-State Theatre's 2015-2016 season continues with dramatic flair as "The Consul" prepares to open tonight, running through March 6. "The Consul," an opera by Gian-Carlo Menotti, is written and performed in English and will be in the Mark A. Chapman Theatre at Nichols Hall.

Reginald Pittman, director of the opera and K-State music professor, is enthusiastic for the audience to experience the show in this specific space.

"I think that Chapman Theatre provides a unique experience," Pittman said. "The thrust stage is different, it's intimate, I like that. I also like doing contemporary or modern opera in this space. People can understand — this isn't sing-song opera, it's very conversational."

"The Consul" centers on Magda, the wife of a freedom fighter, as she separately attempts to obtain a visa to reunite her and her family with her husband who is in a different country. Magda is met with challenge after challenge in obtaining her papers, and must constantly visit the cold and bureaucratic consulate office only to be met with red tape and governmental abuse. Along the way, Magda meets others in the consulate office, each with a different background and reason to leave.

"We're never told the actual location of the show," Pittman said. "We know it's a country in Eastern Europe, but it is left open for interpretation."

"The Consul" sports a remarkable history, opening on Broadway in 1950. Among the accolades the performance and actors received, the show also won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the best musical play and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The plot line of the show has drawn recent parallels to the Syrian refugee hot topic in America — the story of people attempting to escape their country and being unable or forbidden to.

"History has a tendency to repeat itself when it comes to this kind of story line," Pittman said. "These are intense roles; it's musically tough and dramatically tough, but it's an opera to show off the young, beautiful voices that we have."

Ultimately, "The Consul" exposes themes of hope, prayer and accessibility to freedom and more. Tickets for the opera are available at the McCain Auditorium box office or at the Nichols Hall box office an hour before each show.