Opera Company Performs ‘Orpheus’ for DB Students

Sarah Markiewicz, Staff Writer

“Orpheus. Orpheus. ORPHEUS. ORPHEUS.” If your fourth period teachers gave your class the opportunity to watch the Diamond Bar High School drama program and Los Angeles City Opera perform, then the same chant may have resonated in your head for quite some time.

The opera, held on November 19 during fourth period, was a modern version of the Greek tragedy “Orpheus,” the story of an unbelievably talented musician. In this version, instead of wooing the gods with his amazing voice, he attracts the attention of countless young fans and music agency representatives. Then, Orpheus loses hope when he learns that his girlfriend Eurydice is hospitalized after a car accident.

In the Greek tale, Orpheus traveled to the Underworld to save her, though here he ventures into the hospital basement to confront the mysterious and macabre Dr. Hades in order to find a cure for his love. Then, in the most memorable part of the legend, Orpheus foolishly disobeys the orders of the god Hades and looks to Eurydice before they reach the surface. In the modernized rendition, Orpheus fails at reviving her with special medicine precisely a minute after the antidote was given.

Although some may have thought that an opera is supposed to be impossible to understand in terms of storyline, LA City Opera’s production made it clear for high school students to follow and captivated the audience with tactful references to modern culture. At the same time, it mirrored the legend of the classical Greek tale, and gave the participating advanced drama students a taste of the opera. While professional opera singers supplied the main roles, the students were playing the parts of the chorus.

“Part of what I’m doing in the drama program is to open up theater and give more experiences to the kids,” drama teacher Beatrice Casagran said. “So I wanted to open up to more theaters that are not just traditional American theaters, so one of the things I’d like to do is opera.”

After she had heard about LA City opera’s secondary school program, Casagran applied to participate in the event. Although she expected that they would be declined due to a late application, the school that had been accepted dropped out, giving DBHS drama students the chance to work with the professional opera singers. This particular opera was specifically created for the organization’s work with students.

For the eight weeks prior to the performance, advanced drama students like sophomore Julianna King were able to work with the instructors for one day a week.

“They come and they give [us] blocking and minor vocal training,” King said about the program’s instructors.

Casagran says that her class will most likely work with the program again in the next year, so returning students and prospective drama members may have another chance to experience the show in the future.

“I think that as students get to work with professional theater people, it will help build support for students wanting to be in the program and looking into drama as a career,” Casagran said.