Ithaca College Opera and Ithaca College Light Opera Announce Formal Reading of The Wolf By the Ears

Faculty, Students, Alumni Collaborate on Opera Written by School of Music Faculty Member.

Ithaca College Opera and Ithaca College Light Opera are excited to announce that The Wolf By the Ears, an opera written by School of Music faculty member Dana Wilson which explores the romantic relationship between President Thomas Jefferson and one of his African-American servants, Sally Hemings, will be presented as a formal semi-staged read-through with orchestra on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7:00pm in Hockett Family Recital Hall. Wilson’s opera is the first operatic work to be written, directed, conducted, produced and performed by Ithaca College faculty, students, and alumni. Admission is free and open to the public.

This opera explores the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave "mistress," within the many contradictory and hypocritical social structures of their time.  Jefferson's considerable power yet inability to live his own ideals are what make him both tragic and enduringly human. Sally's ability to negotiate a meaningful life within the context of slavery exhibits her remarkable fortitude and resilience. The opera is based entirely on historical information.

A workshop of The Wolf By the Ears was held last year in the School of Music, and presented a selection of scenes and arias from the opera. This formal reading will present the opera in its entirety. Brian DeMaris, Director of Opera and Musical Theater, conducts while David Lefkowich, Lecturer and Stage Director for the main-stage operas, directs. 

Two alumni are making their returns to campus to perform the two lead roles; Zachary James ’06 sings the role of Thomas Jefferson, while Carami Hilare ’09 sings the role of Sally Hemings. Mr. James’ credits include the role of “Hassinger” in the original revival production of South Pacific at Lincoln Center, as well as “Lurch” in the original cast of The Addams Family on Broadway. Ms. Hilare’s credits include “Countess Almaviva” in Le nozze di Figaro and “Mimì” in La bohème, both with the Opera Company of Brooklyn.

Current Ithaca College students perform other roles in the show; Adiza Jibril ’13 as Slave Woman, Meghan Kelly ’13 as Martha Jefferson, Robyn Lustbader ’12 as Polly Jefferson, Carli Mazich-Addice ’13 as Maria Cosway, Jason Peterson ‘14 as James Callendar, Nicholas Reynolds ’12 as John Adams, Thomas Riley ’13 as Marquis de La Fayette, Stephen Wilkins ’13 as James Hemings, and Ryan Zettlemoyer ’13 as Benjamin Franklin. The chorus is comprised of students currently enrolled in Opera Workshop and Acting and Movement for the Opera Singer.

Operatic training is an integral component of the vocal performance curriculum at Ithaca College. The School of Music provides operatic experiences essential to all undergraduate voice majors either remotely or fully interested in pursuing a career in this immensely complicated and rewarding field.

The Ithaca College Light Opera seeks to further operatic studies at Ithaca College in a supportive, collegial environment by producing & performing operatic scenes, full operas, one-act operas, cabarets, etc.; having master-classes, fundraisers, informal classes, etc. in which members of the Ithaca College Light Opera will participate, and by creating formal and informal connections between members in the interest of furthering the art of musical theatre.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodation should contact the School of Music at 607-274-3717.


Originally published in Intercom: Ithaca College Opera and Ithaca College Light Opera Announce Formal Reading of The Wolf By the Ears.

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