Alumnae Frey, Gracyalny to perform in ‘Candide’
By Samantha Savaglio
When the Milwaukee Opera Theater performs "Candide" here at UW-Parkside today, there will be some familiar faces in the cast. During the performances at 4 and 7:30 p.m. in the Music Wing of The Rita, UW-Parkside Apprentice Artists Julieanne Frey and Theresa Gracyalny will be in the ensemble.
The Opera Apprenticeship agreement between the university and the Milwaukee Opera Theater began last year as an opportunity for outstanding recent graduates to perform professionally. Students take part in opera workshops that prepare them for a future in the theater.
This year's apprentices are both part of the ensemble and could not be more excited.
"I can't even tell you how amazing this experience has been," Gracyalny exclaims. "The talent of this cast and production team is just inspiring. Being surrounded by talented people who are trying to be the best they can be inspires you to be the best you can be."
Although Frey describes the rehearsal processes as stressful, she embraces it as a professional experience, noting how enjoyable it is for her to be learning so much.
This version of the classic compresses the show into a 90-minute, one-act performance. And it takes place in a classroom, which the actresses view as a benefit.
"It's like the audience is in it with us and we are going around them," Frey states.
The classroom setting does pose a space restrain and limits the size of the cast, requiring an almost constant shift in character roles. Gracyalny finds this to be one of the reasons she enjoys the show so much.
"Because of our cast size, there are 10 cast members, the ensemble members play several different roles. It's a lot of fun."
The intimate setting takes a show that is often produced on a grand scale and makes it more personable, "especially to people who have never experienced [opera] before," Frey said.
Since graduating, Frey has performed in the Milwaukee Opera Theater's production of "Iolanthe" and Music by the Lake's "Music in the Air." Taking a different theatrical perspective, she has also worked behind the scenes as both stage manager and assistant. As a freshman, she began taking opera workshops, which helped her to develop as both a vocalist and a performer. Her experiences here have eased her adjustment into the face-paced world of professional theater.
"I can't thank Parkside enough for the connections I have now. It's pretty overwhelming, actually," she states.
Gracyalny, a non-traditional student, praised the creative atmosphere she was surrounded with while at UW-Parkside and how she appreciated that students and faculty from different departments work with each other to ensure success.
"Ami Bouterse allowed us to take our ideas and run with them. It was an amazing experience... she trusted us to make things work," she fondly recalls.
"The music department at Parkside is like a breeding place for creativity," she said.
"I am proud to do ["Candide"] here first," said Frey. "It's like a 'thank-you' to the faculty for all that they've done."
"Candide" is performed at 4 and 7:30 p.m. in room D184 of The Rita. The early show is free to UW-Parkside students, faculty, and staff. Tickets for the evening show are $25 for premium reserved, $20 for general seating, and $15 for students and seniors. Seating is limited. Tickets can be ordered online at www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Tickets will not be sold at the door.In the photo, Julieanne Frey, seated left, performs with the Milwaukee Opera Theatre. She is part of today's performances in The Rita.