As the Kansas City Symphony warmed up in the pit, some 300 metro-area students filed into Muriel Kauffman Theatre for The Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s Thursday night dress rehearsal. The production of "The Italian Girl in Algiers" updates Gioachino Rossini’s zany farce by turning the heroine Isabella (Irene Roberts) into an adventurous aviatrix. She's determined to rescue her one true love Lindoro (Taylor Stayton) who has been taken captive by the Turkish Bey Mustafa (Patrick Carfizzi).
During intermission, Micah Welch, 18, a senior at St. Teresa's Academy and a Ginger Frost High School Honors Artist, said it was Isabella, the plucky heroine, who captured her attention.
"They [women in opera] are either evil or they’re very meek, or they’re the sidekick," Welch said. "I think it’s great. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen a female character in opera so strong in a good way. She is definitely the protagonist in the story."
Sitting next to Welch was 10-year-old Kaitlyn Borgelt, a fifth grader at Sunnyside Elementary and a veteran of two Lyric Opera Summer Camps. Borgelt said she was impressed with the special effects onstage.
"There were a lot of things going on so there was a lot to look at,” Borgelt said. “I wasn’t expecting the plane. That was definitely out of the ordinary."
Borgelt’s first experience with opera was watching "Phantom of the Opera" with her father.
"I fell in love with the music and I watched it over and over and over," Borgelt said. "I was so obsessed with it that I got into opera."
For both girls, mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato’s performance of the National Anthem during the final game of the World Series made a big impression.
"She is so laid back and cool," Welch said. "Things don’t really phase her. If I had to sing at the World Series I wouldn’t know what to do."
"I am obsessed with her, but don’t tell her I said that," she added with a laugh.