USC Aiken music professor Dr. Richard Maltz has completed the opera “Bambino,” and baby boomers and older people probably will guess its lead character – the legendary New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth.


Maltz has scheduled auditions at USCA on Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. to cast a one-act version of the opera that will be performed at USCA May 3 through 5 and in Columbia May 10 through 12.


Auditions are open to both professionals and experienced students. There are singing roles for soprano, mezzo soprano, two baritones and bass-baritone. In addition, there are several male acting roles that are non-singing parts. Singers should prepare any operatic excerpt in English and an accompanist will be provided. Actors may prepare a short monologue. There will be compensation for the roles.


Perhaps not surprisingly, the composer grew up in Boston as a huge Red Sox fan.


In 1918, Ruth was a young pitcher for the team that also won the World Series that year. The following season, the team owner sold Ruth to the Yankees, and it would be 86 years before the Red Sox won another World Series in 2004.


That wrenching gap of failure was blamed on the loss of Ruth and became known as the Curse of the Bambino. The libretto (story) “revisits the relentless and terrible calamities inflicted on the Boston Red Sox layers individually and on the team as a whole for 86 years,” Maltz said in an essay on the operatic work.


The opera takes place in 2004, centering on a fictional character and player named Buck George. Maltz acknowledges he took some dramatic license with the story, creating a seventh game of the World Series that year, which was actually a four-game sweep by the Red Sox.


He actually began work on “Bambino” in 2002 and found partners for the libretto in Linda Lee Harper, poet and former USCA English professor, and Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, director of Opera Studies at the University of South Carolina, who is working with Maltz on the premiere.


Maltz has received several grants in support of the project, including the Aiken Opera Society and the USC Aiken Research and Support Grant.


The conductor, Patrick O’Connor, attended USCA in 2000 before later transferring to the University of Illinois. During his stay at USCA, O’Connor had accompanied Maltz to hear a South Carolina Philharmonic concert, which included a commissioned work by Maltz.


“Patrick was so impressed with the whole experience,” Maltz said. “He told me that someday he would have his own orchestra and commission music from me. I thought it was just a nice compliment at the time, but that’s what happened.”


The audition will be in USCA’s Etherredge Center 125.


A secondary audition will be held in Columbia.


For more information on the opera or the auditions, call Maltz at 553-2220 or email richardm@usca.edu.