“Gianni Schicchi” opens March 12

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The opposing forces of greed, love and honor are showcased in “Gianni Schicchi,” an opera opening at Willamette University March 12.

Produced by Willamette University’s Dramatic Vocal Arts Program, in collaboration with the university’s theatre and music departments, the production shares a complex tale based on an incident mentioned in Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”

Wealthy, aristocratic Buoso Donati has a surprise in store for his family. After his death, they discover Buoso has left his vast fortune and estate to the local monastery. The comically self-centered relatives hatch a plan to alter Buoso’s will and reclaim the prize, but they need Schicchi’s assistance to pull it off.

Featuring a cast of Willamette students, alumni and guest artists — and a world-renowned score written by Puccini — this English adaption of the original Italian is a comedic opera set in the 1940s and will be enjoyable for all, says director Allison Swensen-Mitchell.

“This fast-paced and funny opera is perfect for people who have never seen an opera before,” she says. “The plot is accessible and lively; the music is engaging and energetic.”

Before the Thursday night performance and after all following performances, audience members are invited to enjoy refreshments and listen to popular arias sung by the “Gianni Schicchi” cast members.

Swensen-Mitchell is honored by and appreciative of the work from her partners, such as the theatre department and orchestra director Héctor Agüero.

“I am astonished by the high level of artistry, enthusiasm and commitment of the cast and production team throughout this entire rehearsal process,” she says. “It has been a rewarding and exciting journey.”

Performances will be in Smith Auditorium on March 12, 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. and March 15 at 3 p.m.

Tickets

Tickets are $5 for students, $10 adults & seniors and are available at boxofficetickets.com; Travel Salem, 181 High St. NE, 503-581-4325 (Ext. 121); and at Willamette University Theatre thtr-tix@willamette.edu, 503-370-6221; and Music music-info@willamette.edu, 503-370-6255.

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