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Three More Chances To Listen To "Arias In April" From IPR Classical

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An aria is one of the building blocks of an opera. The word is used to describe a piece for voice. This month on IPR Classical, we're showcasing great ones in our "Arias In April" series.

Even if you’ve never formally heard someone refer to an “aria,” it’s likely you’ve heard one. Arias can pop up when you least expect them to in unusual places like commercials or movies.

For example, the aria “Nessun Dorma” from the opera "Turandot" is an intricate part of the “Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation” film. And French composer Georges Bizet’s “Habanera” makes a surprise appearance in the Pixar animated film, “Up.”

What is an aria?

An aria is one of the building blocks of an opera.

The word is used to describe a piece for voice. That piece could be an instrumental accompaniment or be solo, and is usually part of a longer work, like an opera or an oratorio or a cantata.

Operas also include the chorus, created from a whole pack of singers, who often comment on or fill in the plot and make up the crowd. During an opera, there’s also usually a full 45-plus-member orchestra, with a conductor, tucked either in front of the stage or underneath it, in a place called the orchestra pit.

In opera, singers sing the dialogue and plot, using arias and choruses, along with the orchestra to make the whole story come to life. Typically, the orchestra gets to shine in an opening overture for each act, which sometimes includes melodies that will be featured later in that act.

IPR’s opera series, Arias in April continues for the next 3 weekends showcasing different operas recorded in Iowa.

About “Die Fledermaus”

IPR’s Arias in April 2021 features the Des Moines Metro Opera and the Cedar Rapids Opera.

Saturday night April 3 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday afternoon April 4 at 4 p.m., IPR’s Arias in April kicks off, literally, with a frothy and vivacious musical bonbon presented by the Des Moines Metro Opera. Their production features one of Johann Strauss Jr.’s best known amusing and delightful operettas, "Die Fledermaus."

The farce "Die Fledermaus," revolves around Dr. Falke’s playful revenge on his jokester friend Gabriele von Eisenstein. The riotous charade of mistaken identities and bewildering pranks contains a masked party hosted by Russian royalty, a spirited cast trip to jail, and concludes with cases of champagne.

IPR’s presentation of the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of "Die Fledermaus" includes soprano Susannah Biller as Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinda. Baritone David Pershall appears as Eisenstein. Mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen sings the pants role of the Russian Prince Orlofsky. And baritone Troy Cook performs as Dr. Falke.

About Dead Man Walking

Saturday night April 10 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday afternoon April 11 at 4 p.m., IPR’s Arias in April continues with the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of one of Jake Heggie’s most gripping and heart-breaking operas, "Dead Man Walking." Premiered in 2000, this gut-wrenching work is centered on the memoirs of a spiritual advisor to convicted murderers on death row: Roman Catholic nun Sister Helen Prejean.

"Dead Man Walking," with intense libretto by Terrance McNally, and Heggie’s inspired brilliant and moving music, delves into the ethical questions surrounding the crime, as well as ramifications of the death penalty.

The Des Moines Metro Opera production stars mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata portraying Sister Prejean. The condemned Joseph De Rocher is sung by baritone David Adam Moore. Arias in April also includes an exclusive IPR interview with Sister Helen Prejean during one of the opera’s intermissions.

About La Bohème

Saturday night April 17 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday afternoon April 18 at 4 p.m., you can hear Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s celebrated "La Bohème."

"La Bohème" is a poignant and tragic tale of a young couple, who despite all odds, fall hopelessly in love. Friendship also plays an important role.

In IPR’s Des Moines Metro Opera production, the beautiful seamstress Mimi is sung by soprano Julie Adams and the rugged poet Rodolfo is performed by tenor, Joshua Guerrero. IPR’s broadcast taps into Julie and Joshua’s take, as they illuminate their characters and the plot of Puccini’s masterpiece opera, set on Christmas Eve in Paris’s Latin Quarter.

About Turandot

Saturday night April 24 at 8 p.m. and again on Sunday afternoon April 25 at 4 p.m., IPR presents the Cedar Rapids Opera’s production of Puccini’s final masterpiece, Turandot. The prince in "Turandot," Calif, sings one of opera’s most beloved arias of all time, “Nessun dorma.”

The classic fable weaves a story of the beautiful Chinese Princess Turandot, who rules with heartless emotion. In order to capture her affections, her admirers must respond correctly to a trio of questions. Wrong answers guarantee their beheading. Turandot suddenly discovers herself confronted by a puzzling new challenger, who correctly answers all three of her riddles. For the first time in her life, she discovers and understands the most thought-provoking secret of life: love.

In the Cedar Rapids Opera’s production, Turandot is performed by Australian dramatic soprano Rebecca Nash. The handsome prince, Calif, is presented by native of the Polynesian Kingdom of Tonga, tenor, and former Cleveland Browns defensive end, Ta’u Pupu’a. Soprano Chloé Olivia Moore appears as the faithful servant Liù. And baritone Stephen Swenson sings the role of Timur.