The operas themselves varied in both the writer and the subject matter. The group has done several Giacomo Puccini and Wolfgang Mozart operas in the past. But the first of the two operas, "The Old Maid and the Thief" by Gian Carlo Menotti, is a completely new piece to the DePauw community.
Tonne chose this particular play as a homage to Menotti -- it was the 100th anniversary of his birth as well as almost 75 years since he wrote his first opera. This opera was his second, and it was one of the first composed specifically for radio play, premiering in English on NBC's radio networks in 1939.
The opera was done in the style of a traditional radio play, complete with commercials and foley artists, which are the people who make the various sound effects for the radio shows. John Pierce Kraft, who narrated the opera's transitions, also put a few commercials in there as well.
"There's no breakfast better than the Lone Ranger cereal," Kraft said.
Tonne said that in old radio shows, actors would often drop out of character after leaving the microphone, and he wanted the performers to do the same and act like DePauw students from the era.
"Once you walk away, you're not in character anymore," Tonne said. "At that time, they wouldn't stay in character."
The second play was far more fantastical and was performed once before by the DePauw Opera in 2002, "L'Engant et les Sortileges" by Maurice Ravel. Translated, the title is "The Child and the Magic Spells."
This 1925 opera tells the story of a child from the 1920s that is furious because he does not want to do is homework. He destroys objects in his room in a rage, but they quickly come back to life, with some taking human shape, and go after the young boy. He escapes in the family garden, but it is only a temporary respite as the animals begin to attack him as well. But when a squirrel is injured in the fighting, the boy stops and tries to help him. The animals change their mind about the boy and help him find his mother.
Tonne said he enjoys this particular piece because of the vast number of roles that need to be filled, its whimsical nature and the amount of effort needed in the costume work, designed by Caroline Good.
With four performances total, the opera has two full casts, with one having played on Thursday and Saturday and the other on Friday and Sunday.
Tonne said he is proud of the hard work of the students, who were involved in virtually every aspect of the opera experiences from the set to the costumes, and is grateful to have such a talented cast and crew. Hopefully this old-time radio opera and its fantasy partner entertained audiences over the weekend. And if not, then like the Super Bowl, there's always the commercials.
"Isn't the weather awful," Kraft said, quoting a line used often in the opera. "Try Morton salt."