Broadway and Opera Double Bill at Harrison's Lyric Theater

Sep 29, 2017

"Love is a Four-Letter Word" and Pergolesi's comic one-act opera "The Maid Mistress" with baritone Marvin Murphree and soprano Genevieve Fulks can be seen this weekend at the Lyric Theatre in Harrison, Arkansas.
Credit (Poster design courtesy Classic Arts Inc.)

Classic Arts Inc., incorporating the Mosaic Vocal Ensemble, is dedicated to the promotion and presentation of classical fine arts with vocal music being promoted most prominently.  They’ll present “Love is a Four-Letter Word: Of Maids and Men,” a musical double feature featuring baritone Marvin Murphree and soprano Genevieve Fulks in three performances at the Lyric Theatre, 113 W. Rush Street in Harrison, Arkansas: Friday and Saturday Sept.29 and 30 at 7:00pm and Sunday Oct. 1st at 2:00pm. 

The first half of the show, according to Marvin Murphree, "covers the various stages of a relationship, from acting like you don't care about each other to full maturity. That's a program I put together a number of years ago that I've done around the country." 

The music includes "a number of Broadway type things: some pieces from West Side Story, Carousel, Porgy and Bess.  We do one operatic piece (in the first half of the evening: the duet "La ci darem" from Mozart's Don Giovanni).  It's very family-friendly--please bring your kids, bring your family."  This is  Fulk's first time singing with Murphree.  He says he "took auditions from around the country, literally from coast to coast, and it turns out Genevieve  was the best option--and she happened to be right here in town."  Fulk says, "I'm really super excited about this show--I think it really has something for everyone.  It has quite a variety of music. (And) it's neat how you have this dialog (between the two singers) interspersed with these musical works, and how it all ties it together."

The second half of the program is a complete performance of the one-act comic opera La Serva Padrona, or in this English translation, "The Maid Mistress", by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, dating from 1733.  Pandolfo (sometimes known as "Uberto"), a wealthy doctor, has taken in a young woman, Zerpina, as his ward. Says Genevieve Fulks, "He has given her a decent education, a place to live.  She is his maid--and she's really kind of fed up with being the maid."  Actually she basically runs the household, and Pandolfo wants to get married so that it will be his (future) wife who runs the house rather than his "little maid" Zerpina.  But Zerpina's having none of it--in fact, she plans on becoming Pandolfo's wife. 

There are just two singing roles in "The Maid Mistress," but Marvin Murphree says, "there is one silent character (Vespone, a servant).  And I told (the actor playing Vespone) I want him to try to steal the show--his goal is to try to steal the show without saying anything.  (Be careful what you wish for, Marvin....) Murphree says the opera is "very funny" just by itself, but he determined from the outset to go for broad humor at every opportunity. "I said from the beginning, if there's a cheap joke we're going to play it! There's no sense in being 'snooty' about this.  I try to play Pandolfo so he's not just a total jerk. He's kind of clueless and blustery, but he's really a nice guy underneath it all."

Tickets are $15; $10 for seniors and students, and are available at www.thelyricharrison.org or by calling the Ozark Arts Council in Harrison at (870) 391-3504.