UNO Chorus members shine in “Mozart’s The Magic Flute”

Jessica Pelchat, Abby Lewandowski, Shaina Smith, Aaron Lawrence. Photo courtesy Dale Schwalm

Morgan Harms

They sing, they act, they dance. The chorus members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) opera “Mozart’s The Magic Flute” are an ensemble of triple threats.

The opera was presented April 12 and 13 in partnership with Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School. The production starred students from UNO’s School of Music and featured students from Gross High School.

The opera tells the story of a handsome prince who saves his future wife from torture and her evil mother with the help of his sidekick, along with magic bells and a magic flute. The prince and his sidekick are accompanied by three spirits who guide them between realms on their journey to love.

Shelby VanNordstrand, UNO assistant professor of vocal performance and the opera’s director and character, Queen of the Night, called the performance a power struggle and a story of good triumphing over evil.

VanNordstrand called the opera’s chorus “vital because they play a lot of parts, and without them, there would be gaping holes” in the performance.

Because the opera was done in partnership with Gross High School, several chorus and crew members were students from the high school, VanNordstrand said.

The opera’s chorus was comprised of about 25 people, “who turned into a little family,” chorus member and UNO freshman, Shaina Smith said.

“The rehearsals were the best part,” Smith said. The chorus members had time to hang out backstage and got to know one another, which she said created a dynamic that could be seen onstage.

Smith said the chorus can get a little hectic because there are so many members, but they play a vital role in the production.

“Without the chorus, the principles would be dead,” Smith said.

Opera is technical and vocally challenging, Smith said, and the leads would strain or lose their voices if there wasn’t a chorus.

Smith said one of the biggest obstacles of the production was making sure the cast kept their voices healthy.

Chorus member and choreographer, Abby Lewandowski, agreed with Smith.

Lewandowski said to ensure the chorus could support the lead actors, chorus members held a lot of independent rehearsals to get their songs and dances down.

Lewandowski said she enjoyed creating the choreography for the show. She said this was the first show she has choreographed and the most difficult aspect of her job was revising her work to meet the dancing abilities of all of the chorus members. Lewandowski said creating choreography for this production was a learning process for her.

“It took a lot of time and was very frustrating, but seeing the final product makes it worth it,” Lewandowski said.