SDSU opera unfolds a story of fantasy clashing with reality

by Liliana Cervantes, Staff Writer

With just a little imagination, an average day can be transformed into a lively opera filled with glorious music and theatrics.

Enter the enchanting world of art and music as seen through the eyes of character Adeline from the dreamy-opera, “Strawberry Fields.” This one-act opera, composed by Michael Torke, runs April 8-10 at Smith Recital Hall

Set during autumn in Central Park, New York, at the Strawberry Fields memorial for iconic musician John Lennon, the opera tells a story of fantasy clashing with reality.

Sweet but confused Adeline is an elderly woman struggling with dementia. After befriending a student, the two embrace an imaginary world together that takes the audience to the opera. Adeline’s adult children’s attempts to take their mother to a retirement home in between the opera serve as a reminder of reality.

Directed by Julie Maykowski, the SDSU production of “Strawberry Fields” double-cast the roles of Adeline and the student. Music education sophomore Marielena Teng is one of the cast members who plays the role of Adeline.

“She’s an exciting character,” Teng said. “She’s in her own little world — little bubble — and in a sense she is like a child. She sees the opera at the park and that’s like her playground.”

Maykowski said the charming story of “Strawberry Fields” and its contemporary score make it a very active and humorous production.

“We get that nice contrast between the score reflecting the agitation of the people that have to live with (Adeline) and then we get parts of the score that really reflect her love of music,” she said. “It’s a really clever score.”

A John Lennon tribute will also be featured with the cast singing his beloved single “Imagine.” A collage of quotes will tell the story of Veredi, Adeline’s late husband, and then touch on Lennon’s own life.

“(‘Strawberry Fields’) is very much about how important music and art are and I can’t help but think by using Verdi and Lennon that (Torke) is trying to spread the word about peace,” Maykowski said.

Music entrepreneurship and business senior Yo Oh looks forward to playing the role of the student, whose character goes along for the ride with Adeline.

“I think he’s probably ditching a class to go to a park — he enjoys being out in nature and reminiscing about home, pondering about life,” he said. “Then he sees this old lady and he is just really intrigued.”

Vocal performance major Camille Anderson said the relationship between the elderly Adeline and young student is sweet.

“These could be very real people, could just be very relatable for audiences and that’s partly why it’s so tender,” she said.

Maykowski said a performance in Smith Recital Hall is intimate with the audience because of the venues small size.

“In opera we don’t use any microphones ever,” she said. “It’s totally acoustic. There’s something really amazing about sitting in a room and feeling the human voice bounce off of you. It’s more visceral than anything that you can experience on the radio or television.”

Tickets for “Strawberry Fields” will be $10 for students and $15 for general admission. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday.