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UNT students volunteer to produce opera to raise money for local organizations
Press Release

January, 2009

Concert for Hope -- A performance of Giuseppe Verdi's La traviata presented by students in the University of North Texas Opera program to raise money for Cumberland Presbyterian Children's Home in Denton, AIDS Services of North Texas and Denton County Friends of the Family.

When: 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31 (Friday and Saturday)

Where: Lyric Theater, UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center, located along the north side of Interstate 35E at North Texas Boulevard

Cost: Donations encouraged

Contact: (940) 369-7802 or www.thempac.com

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- In a volunteer effort, University of North Texas College of Music students are staging two performances of Giuseppe Verdi's beloved opera La traviata to benefit local organizations.

Dubbed Concert for Hope, the fundraiser is spearheaded by Kevin Park, a master's student seeking a degree in vocal performance at UNT, who rounded up volunteers from the UNT College of Music to produce the full-length opera with a small orchestra.

"It's great to be able to reach out to the community, and it's good for the students to have an opportunity to perform -- particularly if we can all do this for a good cause," Park said.

In a change from the traditional La traviata with full staging, minimal sets and costumes are used to convey the touching love story of the beautiful Violetta Valery and Alfredo Germont.

"La traviata means 'the lost one, so we're conveying that on stage through the minimalist concept by eliminating a lot of the usual opera theater elements," he said. "Sometimes audience members get lost in the elaborate sets, and then the drama and storytelling get lost. But by using the minimalist concept, we're telling a story through the drama -- and telling the story is the most important concept."

Money raised from the event will benefit Cumberland Presbyterian Children's Home in Denton, AIDS Services of North Texas and Denton County Friends of the Family.

The performances will take place at 8 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31 (Friday and Saturday) in the Lyric Theater of the UNT Murchison Performing Arts Center, located along the north side of Interstate 35E at North Texas Boulevard. No admission is charged and no tickets are required, but donations are encouraged. Call (940) 369-7802 or visit the Murchison Performing Arts Center website.

Park and his cast of volunteers from the UNT Opera program are putting a twist on La traviata, moving the production to a modern Mardi Gras in 2009.

"Everyone from the singers, orchestra and staff donated time to make this work and to make this a very meaningful event," Park said. "I'm very proud of my cast; they've worked extremely hard and everyone has something to bring to the table. It's been amazing to see the transformations."

The students are donating not just their time and musical talents, but cast members are also bringing costumes for the non-traditional interpretation of La traviata, which will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.

Park started Concert for Hope last year, when he rallied student singers, instrumentalists and backstage crews to volunteer for a donation-only concert featuring excerpts from famous operas. This year, he proposed the full-length opera.

"Kevin asked UNT Opera if we could offer our resources as needed for a 'simply produced' production of Verdi's La traviata," said Paula Homer, director of the UNT Opera. "The opera is fully dramatized and beautifully sung but with simple sets, lighting, and costuming. It is wonderful what Kevin and the other students are doing to give back to the community through the use of their talents. I look forward to seeing the result of their hard work and enthusiasm."



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