Aiken is the site of a world premiere this week. “Petunia,” an opera for children, will be making its debut.
The theatrical presentation's title character is a silly goose that finds a book in a meadow. She mistakenly thinks that owning the book makes her wise.
“It's written for grades K-4,” said Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, general director of FBN Productions. “It's light, it's easy, it's grown-ups dressed in animal costumes, and it's fun.”
Based in Chapin, FBN is an organization dedicated to exposing youngsters to opera. The Aiken Opera Society is teaming with FBN to bring “Petunia” to local audiences.
Through the Opera Society's Wonderful World of Opera in the Aiken County Schools program, there will be performances of “Petunia” at Second Baptist Christian Preparatory School and East Aiken School of the Arts on Tuesday; Mead Hall Episcopal School and Millbrook Elementary School on Wednesday; and Heritage Academy in Augusta on Friday.
A performance of “Petunia” will also be the centerpiece of the Opera Society's gala on Saturday at the Aiken County Historical Museum on Newberry Street. The fundraiser, which includes a cocktail supper, will begin at 6:30 p.m.
The cost is $20 per person, and reservations must be made by Thursday. For more information, call the Opera Society's vice president, Billy Benton, at 803-649-0045 or email Benton@baruch.com.
The ballroom at Banksia, the Winter Colony mansion where the Historical Museum is located, “is one of the best venues for music; it has state of the art acoustics,” Benton said. “Every performer who has sung or played there has said it is fabulous.”
Keith Jameson, a native of Greenwood, wrote “Petunia,” which is based on a book of the same name by Robert Duvoisin.
The opera's score features catchy tunes with elements of jazz, Baroque, classical and other styles.
“I commissioned this opera from Keith to celebrate FBN's 20th anniversary of being in business,” Schlaefer said. “With Keith being a South Carolina native and graduate of Furman University, it worked out great.”
A tenor, Jameson recently performed the role of Bardolfo in “Falstaff” at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
“Keith won't sing in ‘Petunia,' but he will be in Aiken for one of the performances at the schools,” Schlaefer said. “The singing actors in ‘Petunia' all have top-notch voices.”
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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