ISU Theatre students and faculty created the scenery for the Cedar Rapids Opera productions of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, which performed January 13 and 15 at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids.
Associate Professor of Theatre Rob Sunderman of Boone designed the scenery and Iowa State University Theatre was credited for constructing the sets. The scenery was built in the Fisher scene shop last summer with painting and carpentry assistance from several ISU Theatre students including: Taylor Millar (senior in Performing Arts from Ankeny), Amanda Keesling (senior in Performing Arts from Oskaloosa), Rebel Clodi (senior in Performing Arts from Madrid), and Merideth Raine (senior in Performing Arts from Persia, Iowa).
Internationally renowned director Candace Evans directed the one-act operas Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo. The principal cast and production team featured nationally and internationally experienced performers and artists.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette’s review for Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci praised Sunderman’s scenery: “Both productions are just as beautiful for the eyes as for the ears. Rob Sunderman’s massive set design whisks the viewers to rural Italy, with a huge stone church looming high above one side of the town square, and rustic living quarters with balconies spanning the back and opposite side. The structures afford the chorus and principals plenty of multi-level acting spaces – with plenty of room left for folk dancing in the square.”
“Cedar Rapids Opera has provided me the opportunity to further my scholarly work with some very talented production team individuals,” Sunderman said. “We share artistic and creative ideas that push each of us to visually enhance the music and the storytelling of each opera. It has also been a great way to not only provide my expertise, but to gain knowledge to share with my students. Our collaboration with Cedar Rapids Opera has provided ISU Theatre students the opportunity to work with a professional opera company as design assistants, scenic artists, carpenters and load-in crew members.”
Cedar Rapids Opera launched in 1998 with the commitment to bringing high quality opera to eastern Iowa. Cedar Rapids Opera presents two or three operas each season featuring American and international artists produced in a variety of Eastern Iowa venues.
Sunderman added, “This coming year will be Cedar Rapids Opera’s 20th year. I am pleased and excited to be part of that milestone for the company in 2018.”