New-age opera set in South Dakota impresses local critic

Gay Leclair

Gay Leclair

The Sounds of South Dakota Vocal Showcase presented an adapted version of Mozart’s “The Impresario” to a moderately full audience, on Saturday at the University of Sioux Falls.

This version, adapted and directed by Bruce Earnest, director of musical theatre at the University of South Dakota, was set in modern day Sioux Falls with lyrics performed in English and musical accompaniment provided by the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra.

The synopsis of the story goes like this-it’s a comical piece about a struggling opera company trying to pay its bill. The plot thickens, as they say, when an aging diva and a young aspiring soprano battle for the lead in the company’s current production of The Magic Flute.

The opera adaptation was, overall, enjoyable. It had something for everyone-comedy, romance, intrigue, corruption, deception and a happy ending. At times the tempo of the acting was somewhat faster paced than the music. And there were moments when the classical music styling of Mozart did not fit with the modern-day setting. But I have to give credit were credit deserves to be given. The Sounds of South Dakota achieved their goal of introducing opera in an updated form to the city of Sioux Falls.

The vocalists in this production were outstanding. They were all local talent by the way.

The audience favorite was Damian Marchand of Brandon, South Dakota. I have had the pleasure of seeing Marchand perform in the past. He has that rare mix of talent, good looks and charisma. I am even more impressed with Marchand due to the fact that he has never been formally trained.

Another cast member worth noting is our own Emily Toronto, assistant professor of music here at South Dakota State University. Her time on stage was short but memorable and the audience enthusiastically showed their delight with her performance.

It goes without saying that the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra alone was worth the $15 admission-with student ID. However, no matter how fine the productions are from the Sounds of South Dakota, the cost may be a little too much for the average college student.

It was definitely well worth taking the time to see. I give it a three rabbit rating.

If you would like more information on the Sounds Of South Dakota and future productions, visit their Web site at