June 09, 2008

Music Festival coming to Du Quoin, Sesser

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Musical performances with children in mind and a night at the opera come to Du Quoin and Sesser as part of the multi-site Southern Illinois Music Festival, a musical outreach of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Du Quoin Middle School plays host to Mel Goot, jazz pianist and area legend, beginning at 10 a.m. on June 18 for the children’s musical program Jive with Jazz. Goot is a San Diego native initially self-taught on the piano. He landed his first professional musical job as a teenager. Goot was top pianist with the San Diego State University Jazz Ensemble, and is a presence at national jazz and musical festivals. He has shared the stage with the likes of Hollis Gentry, Carol Keye, Peter Sprague, Bobby Shew, Dave Valentin and, in a big band setting, behind Solomon Burke, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Steve Allen. The SIUC-based New Arts Jazztet claimed him from 1995 until 2006 and now he is back on board with the group again. So, yes, parents, feel free to accompany your children -- or even your neighbor’s children -- to Jive with Jazz.

Two performances come to the nearby Sesser Opera House as part of the music festival as well.

Klassics for Kids begins at 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 12, at the opera house, with a winds performance in an interactive program aimed at children from birth to about 8 years old.

On June 26, beginning at 7:30 p.m., opera comes to the Sesser Opera House. This year’s offering is Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

The opera, a comedy, premiered in Rome in 1816. Like virtually all Italian comic operas, this is a love story. The wealthy Count Almaviva, wishing to make the beautiful Rosina fall in love with him and not with his money, disguises himself as Lindoro, a poor student. Figaro, the barber of Seville, helps Almaviva in his love quest. Of course Rosina’s guardian, Dr. Bartolo, opposes the match because he himself plans to marry the girl. Several disguises later, Almaviva reveals his true identity to Rosina, the two admit their love for each other and, after a tense moment with Bartolo involving a missing escape ladder and a frantic Figaro, arrange their wedding. Figaro appears throughout the two-act opera -- including the funny, famous and often parodied scene where he shaves Bartolo.

The opera’s fame makes it easily referenced in pop culture -- which means many people have heard sections of the music or know parts of the story even if they don’t realize it. One of the most famous pop culture uses of The Barber of Seville is surely Warner Bros. 1949 Looney Tunes episode, “The Rabbit of Seville,” in which Bugs Bunny uses an over-the-top slapstick version of the shaving scene to humiliate Elmer Fudd. Bugs used the song “Largo al factotum” from the opera in a 1948 episode as well -- wherein he poses as Leopold (Stokowski) to humiliate a cranky opera singer with the famous, “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro” sequence. A 2007 episode of The Simpsons, guest-starring Placido Domingo, cashed in on the opera’s fame by using it in the episode’s title, “The Homer of Seville.” The overture -- without any parody -- plays during the closing credits for the Beatles’ movie, “Help.”

Tickets for the opera are $12 for general admission, $5 for students of any age. Call 618/625-5322 for ticket order information.

The Sesser Opera House dates to 1914 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here are details about the performances. For a complete schedule, go to www.sifest.com.

June 12

Klassics for Kids -- Winds, 4 p.m. at Sesser Opera House, free admission.

June 18

Jive with Jazz -- Mel Goot, 10 a.m. at Du Quoin Middle School, free admission.

June 26

Opera -- Rossini: The Barber of Seville, 7:30 p.m. at Sesser Opera House, call 618/625-5322 for tickets, general admission, $12, students, $5.