PHS Choir broke the tradition of performing entire musical works, like L’enfant et les Sortilèges in 2015 and Candide in 2014, by performing excerpts from various, even smaller, operettas this year. On October 21 and 22, the choir performed an amalgamation of different zarzuelas— dramatic Spanish operettas.
“Some of them are solos, some of them are trios, [and] some are with the chorus overall, which is what I am part [of]. There is no one play we’re doing this time around … We’re doing songs from a variety of these zarzuelas,” said Michael Meyer ’18, a member of PHS Choir.The decision to switch from large bodies of music to diverse and mixed excerpts, namely zarzuelas, was for a variety of reasons.
“We … get to showcase more of the music … And there’s usually only a couple of main characters, so doing it this way gives a lot more people the opportunity to have solos, and we get to experience more music. With the three shows, we’re taking out the best part of each of the shows,” said Sarah Pelletier, one of PHS Choir’s teachers and conductors.
The choice of doing Spanish zarzuelas also offered the choir ample preparation for its tour to Seville and Cordoba this February. Performing the songs in Spanish allows the choir to practice its Spanish pronunciation, which has been challenging for some members.
“It’s a lot of Spanish, so it’s a lot of different pronunciations … You just have to focus a ton on the pronunciation of the words so the crowd can understand it,” said Paul Brennan ’19, who performed a trio at the operetta.
In addition to the extra practice with the choir, the zarzuelas also gave the audience a taste of what will be occurring in Spain.
“The people that come will get a taste of what we’re going to do on tour. I think people will be very excited to see what we’re going to do,” said Brennan before the show.
By including songs from different shows, the choir was also able to weave together many musical styles throughout the night. For instance, Meyer’s and the chorus’ performance in the song “Jugar con Fuego”—a fast-paced, hectic and frenetic piece—is starkly contrasted with Brennan’s trio of part of “El Barberillo de Lavapies”—a lovey-dovey type song about unreciprocated love.
“It’s a really weird plot, it’s kinda crazy. There’s this guy who’s … kinda like a duke. But he’s the bad guy. He’s in love with this woman, but this woman is in love with another guy who doesn’t have any status, so he gets the other guy thrown in jail, but then he goes to visit him in jail and in this jail is when the song happens. It’s this crazy madhouse,” said Meyer of the song “Jugar Con Fuego.”
Overall, the audience appreciated the Spanish singing and performance.
“I did, I enjoyed it very much,” said Steve Haggerty, the parent of Michael Haggerty—a student in the PHS choir.
PHS Choir’s next performance will be the Princeton Symphony Holiday POPS! on December 17 at Richardson Auditorium.