‘Healthy change’ coming to EWU Opera


The EWU Opera Department's first Pastiche of the year, Murder Mystery Night. The Opera Department is working on completing three productions this school year | Photo courtesy of EWU Opera Department

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

EWU’s Opera Department revamped the program by starting off with a Pastiche, followed by two more productions this year.

The program is used to only one production per year, but with the efforts of new Director of the Opera Program at EWU, Dr. Abbigail Coté, they are working on completing three productions and possibly four.

On Nov. 19 the program finished their first show, an original Pastiche, called “Murder Mystery Night.” The performance concentrates on a male named Albert, a known womanizer who is suddenly murdered. Following his death, the female characters in the show spend their time grieving and solving the murder of their beloved Albert.

A Pastiche is a theatrical art form, where it’s like everything but the kitchen sink. It’s a combination of different excerpts from operas and musicals.

“Everything is in English and then we created our own story to work around the music,” said Coté. “They decided on doing a murder mystery, which is kind of challenging because we have five lovely women and two men. So, how to make that work was kind of a puzzle that we all worked on to figure out. The students did most of the driving in terms of plot and character and all that. It’s completely brand new work.”

The EWU Opera Department’s first Pastiche of the year, Murder Mystery Night. The Opera Department is working on completing three productions this school year | Photo courtesy of EWU Opera Department

Since a Pastiche is an amalgamation of different songs from different operas and musicals, the cast was able to make stuff up as they went, which creates a unique and lively setting for the students.

“I love how funny it is, everyone works really well together and we just feed off of each other’s energy,” said senior Kristina Vakulich, who played Albert’s ex-wife Kristina, an elite socialite. “There becomes moments where people throw in their own weird thing and it’s so funny, it’s just absurd it does not make any sense at all. I think that’s the entertaining factor about it.”

Senior Kristina Vakulich plays Albert’s ex-wife Kristina, an intoxicated elite socialite. Vakulich is a major in vocal performance | Photo courtesy of EWU Opera Department

Though the Opera Department only consists of eight students that are taking the Opera Workshop class, the program’s expansion model provides more convenience for students that want to participate in the productions.

“Like I said, we’re moving from a model where last year they did a production that had four people in it and that took an entire year,” said Coté. “Now we’re doing three different things throughout the year to try give way more opportunity to students that maybe can’t commit for an entire year or can’t handle singing sets that are maybe 70 minutes long and that kind of stuff.”

Senior Taylor Clarke played the role of a private investigator named Taylor that has an affair with Albert. Clarke finds the direction that the department is headed toward as a great new page.

“To go from doing maybe one opera a year to doing an original Pastiche this quarter, a bunch of scenes this next quarter, and I’m sure we will be up to something incredible spring quarter, that’s such a big change for this department,” said Clarke. “I think it’s a needed change, it’s a healthy change, and it’s an artistic change. It’s going to be really great for this department.”