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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Mayhem to drive Shakespearean works molded into operatic presentation The Happy Dagger

Immon Kission, left, (Iago) and Eric Sands (Falstaff) polish their songs during rehearsals of The Happy Dagger, composed and directed by Ed Perez, associate professor of music on NE Campus. The opera will play Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in the NSTU Center Corner.   Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian
Immon Kission, left, (Iago) and Eric Sands (Falstaff) polish their songs during rehearsals of The Happy Dagger, composed and directed by Ed Perez, associate professor of music on NE Campus. The opera will play Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in the NSTU Center Corner. Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian

By Gary Collins/ne news editor

Immon Kission, left, (Iago) and Eric Sands (Falstaff) polish their songs during rehearsals of The Happy Dagger, composed and directed by Ed Perez, associate professor of music on NE Campus. The opera will play Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in the NSTU Center Corner.   Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian
Immon Kission, left, (Iago) and Eric Sands (Falstaff) polish their songs during rehearsals of The Happy Dagger, composed and directed by Ed Perez, associate professor of music on NE Campus. The opera will play Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in the NSTU Center Corner. Photo by Gary Collins/The Collegian

Sins, murder, love, loneliness and drama, a typical Shakespeare dramatic plot, has found a home in the newest opera to be performed by the NE music department.

Like a daytime soap opera, characters struggle with love, grief and raw human emotions in The Happy Dagger, which opens Wednesday, Oct. 31, at 8 p.m. on NE in NSTU Center Corner.

The Happy Dagger, composed and conducted by Ed Perez and directed by Colleen Mallette, is a creative combination of William Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Perez takes characters from Shakespeare’s plays, mixes them and drops them in the Happy Dagger, a bar set in purgatory.

“ Seven of the 10 characters committed suicide in their respective plays, so their goal in this opera is to find redemption, and they find it through love,” Perez, said.

The colorful cast of characters includes Puck (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Ophelia (Hamlet), Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) Cleopatra (Cleopatra and Antony), Ariel (The Tempest), Falstaff (Henry IV), Richard III (Richard III) and Iago and Desdemona (Othello).

“ The opera is essentially a love story with each character longing for a lost love or trying to find a new love,” he said. “Through the aspect of love comes redemption.”

Nicholas Berkley, who portrays Richard III, has been doing opera for four years.

“ I like the drama, scandal and the controversy because it’s [The Happy Dagger] all about lies, sex and alcohol,” he said.

Richard III is trying to atone his sins in life.

At the same time, he becomes tangled in web of drama with Ophelia, a Hamlet character played by Jacqueline Pettit.

“ I don’t know very much about her, but she is crazy,” Pettit said.

In The Happy Dagger, Ophelia’s father is dead, and this leads to her sadness.

“ She goes crazy and falls in love with Richard III after she is wooed by him,” she said.

“ I don’t want to tell everything … but something definitely happens in the fight scene: jealousy, rage and madness is how you can describe the show,” she said.

Falstaff, a friendly character from Henry IV, is portrayed by Eric Sands.

“ He’s drunk a lot and doesn’t have any real enemies. He likes everyone until at the end during a bar fight,” Sands said.

Iago, the back-stabbing friend of Othello, is played by Immon Kission. Desdemona, a victim of Iago’s deceit, is played by Crystal Jordan.

Mary Morgan plays Juliet, the lovelorn heroine; Akesa Afubomago plays Lady Macbeth; Priya Patel plays Ariel, and Alejandro Galvez plays Puck.

Perez not only needed to find the right performers for the roles, but he had to translate Shakespeare into an operatic song.

“ Shakespeare’s language is itself very musical, not just rhythmically, in terms of iambic pentameter, but in sound and color,” he said.

“ So setting it to music, especially jazz harmonies, was quite easy.”

Perez said the challenge was to make the dialogue of different characters into a coherent story and plot.
All the dialogue is from each character’s original play.

“ Everything Juliet sings is from Romeo and Juliet; everything Ophelia sings is from Hamlet, and so on,” he said.

Dialogue from The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing are used to create choruses and other actions for the characters to jointly sing about.

Perez used blues progressions and blues scales.

“ Since it’s a jazz bar and every one is singing about love, I felt the blues flavor was perfect for conveying each character’s essence,” he said. “The challenge for this was for the singers to stay in operatic style.”

The opera is free and part of the Shakespeare Festival. It runs Oct. 31-Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. in NSTU Center Corner.

For the Halloween opening, attendees are encouraged to wear a costume and will get Halloween candy at the door. Closing night, Saturday, Nov. 3, will feature a jazz pre-show at 7 p.m.

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