Oberlin Opera Theater presents Il Matrimonio Segreto (The Secret Marriage)

Domenico Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (“The Secret Marriage”) was a hit from the very beginning. On Thursday, March 24 at 8:00 pm at Hall Auditorium, Oberlin Opera Theater will present Cimarosa’s two-act comic opera in a production directed by Jonathon Field, with Christopher Larkin conducting the Oberlin Orchestra. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. Performances run through Sunday. Tickets are available online.

I spoke with Alan Rendzak, who takes on the role of Count Robinson and asked the second-year vocal performance major about his character, and his journey to studying opera. 

Notice: This interview doesn’t include all of the stories and made it brief. 

Suji Park: What is your musical background? 

Alan Rendzak: I danced and sang in high school. During my Junior year, I was in Phantom of the Opera. When I arrived at Oberlin, I started studying two art songs and one aria, and ever since then, I’ve kept moving forward. 

SP: What is your vocal type? 

AR: I’m kind of a higher baritone. I have a higher tessitura than other baritones, but I’m definitely not a tenor.

SP: What is your role in Il Matrimonio and what is your character all about? 

AR: I play Count Robinson. Basically, I’ve been asked by Geronimo to marry his oldest daughter, Elisetta. But I fall in love with her sister, Carolina. So, I’m the reason for the whole problem in the opera

SP: What do you think about acting in a role that is different from your actual age and life experience? What is your understanding of this role? 

AR: I’m 20 and my character is 45 — the old man in the opera. First of all, I like to think about what I would have done with my life if I were twice as old. I can comprehend being married. But I did my research by watching people who were older than me and thinking about what I can learn from them and bring that to my performance. 

SP: Il Matriomonio is a comedy. What is your favorite part of the Opera? 

AR: My duet with Geronimo is my favorite part. We have so much fun doing it. This scene is about two men who are bickering. However, another scene that can compete with it is the finale of Act 1. It is very strong, well written, and provides a lot of context for what is to come. It is the most important part of the opera. Overall, this opera goes pretty quickly. The music is fast, very complicated, and very ensemble-oriented. 

SP: As a singer, what is the hardest part of using your body as an instrument? 

AR: That depends on the person. Everyone has a different body, but personally, I’m focusing more on supporting and having breath control to be able to project to the audience consistently. And this opera helps me to practice controlling my breath. On the stage, I need to concentrate on the cues and continue to act as if I’m in the scene.  

SP: As an opera singer, you need to think about not only singing on the stage but also acting and stagecraft. How do you combine those things? 

AR: For me, I’m trying to incorporate the things that I’m struggling with during each rehearsal. So, it is different when I’m in a music rehearsal than a stage rehearsal. 

I didn’t realize until doing this opera that a lot of what happens is done in layers — you do the staging and you do your music separately. Eventually, when you do the run-through, that is where you can combine them both. On the stage, I’m trying to keep in touch with the conductor and listen to the orchestra. And then, checking all of the things during the tech rehearsal and the dress rehearsal for the staging. 

SP: In the future, do you want to become a professional opera singer or something else?  

AR: I would love to help revive operas. Opera has been declining in popularity in the last 30 years. So, I want to be part of the movement to revive it so the next generation can appreciate opera as an art form. It is hard now because we are not in a show like a Broadway musical and most operas are too long for the young generation to watch and understand. So, there is a big contrast between the Opera and a Broadway musical. So I want to keep my career as an opera singer and I want to revive operas and make the gap smaller.

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