Local MOT chorus singers help melt heart of Princess Turandot

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Photo courtesy of Kurt Frank
Dearborn residents Kurt Frank (left), Alexandria Clark and Brad Miller will sing in the chorus of Michigan Opera Theatre’s “Turandot” May 10 to 18 at the Detroit Opera House.

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Three Dearborn residents will be part of the chorus in the Michigan Opera Theatre production of Giacomo Puccini’s opera “Turandot” May 10 through 18 at the Detroit Opera House.

Alexandria Clark, Brad Miller, and Kurt Frank share a vibrant enthusiasm for the music and story line of “Turandot,” the closing production of the 2014 DOH season.

The specific vocal demands of the chorus reflect the fearful Mandarin public in ancient Peking, where the powerful Princess Turandot executes her influence while fostering a profound loathing of all men. This hatred manifests into the well known pre-marital trials Turandot sets for bridegroom hopefuls as they must answer three riddles she poses or die.

Turandot, needs a strong voice to echo through the orchestra and chorus while belting out riddles and handing out death sentences, but also sweetness when her heart melts and she falls into the fearless arms of Calàf, her true love.

While all three singers agree that Puccini’s masterful music — including most notable “Nessun Dorma” — articulates the powerful story themes of love and death, each also held an interesting perspective on the production process.

An effervescent Clark spoke highly of the three-hour staging rehearsal and the massive undertaking of only the chorus part of the production.

“Valerio Galli is a fantastic conductor whose energy is infectious, along with the masterful stage direction of Garnett Bruce made for an enjoyable productive rehearsal process,” she said.

Clark, a soprano, holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan and has been with MOT for one year, “Turandot” accounting for her fifth show.

Miller talked about the 60 set rehearsal hours for a production this size.

“We spend 60 hours rehearsing not to mention the untold personal practice, for this size production,” he said, “however, when you consider the grand scale of the music as well as the emotional progression that we all take part in it makes sense we make such a large investment.”

Miller has been part of the Detroit music scene since he was 16 years old and has performed throughout western Wayne County. He has been with the MOT for three years and also has performed with Frank at Greenfield Village for the past 10 years with the Greenfield Village Singers.

Frank, who has been part of 39 operas since joining MOT in 2002, said, “Puccini is one of my favorite composers. I recommend any one of his productions to new or seasoned opera lovers. There is always something new to discover in a live performance.”

Frank, a bass-baritone, holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Michigan. He also is a third year producer, working on “Shrek the Musical” a production coming to the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center July 11 through 13.

Performances for “Turandot” are 7:30 p.m. May 10, 14, 16 and 17, and 2:30 p.m. May 18 at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway in Detroit. Tickets range from $25 to $125 and are available at the DOH ticket office, by calling 313-237-7464, and online at www.michiganopera.org. For group sales, contact the ticket office.

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