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Gerald Carpenter: Speaking of Stories to Celebrate Opera in Fiction

'A Night at the Opera in Stories and Music' will be performed Saturday and Sunday at Center Stage Theater

Speaking of Stories, the ever-innovative series based on returning literature to its oral roots, will present “A Night at the Opera in Stories and Music” at 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Center Stage Theater in the Paseo Nuevo Mall.

Directed by Maggie Mixsell, with musical direction by Anne Bell, the production will feature singers Christina Ball, Anne Bell and Travis Haase, readers Michael Bernard and Anne Torsiglieri, and pianist Michael Alfera.

Those who saw the film of E.M. Forster’s novel Where Angels Fear to Tread will recall the performance of Domenico Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor. The characters attend a provincial Italian opera house, after which the Judy Davis character rises to her feet lamenting, “Where’s Sir Walter Scott? That’s what I want to know!” — a reference to the many changes Donizetti’s work had wrought in adapting Scott’s novel, The Bride of Lammermoor — making it all but unrecognizable.

The Speaking of Stories show is not about novels lost in translation to operas, but about operas — Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and others — that make memorable cameo appearances in such famous works of fiction as Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and James Joyce’s Ulysses.

It is an ingenious excuse for a variety show, and Mixsell — in whose head the idea, presumably, germinated — is to be congratulated and encouraged.

There will be a post-show patron reception Saturday night only.

Tickets to “A Night at the Opera” are $50 patron (Saturday only), $25 general, and $15 for students and military. All seating is general admission. Tickets may be purchased at the box office by clicking here or calling 805.963.0408.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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