Mercer Opera to delight audiences with Muskrat Lullaby

Sterling Neill, Staff writer

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Mercer University Opera has already taken several of Macon’s elementary schools by storm, singing, acting and dancing their way to their newest production of “A Muskrat Lullaby.”

The production, which doubles as a service-learning project for the Mercerians who appear in it, is designed to promote interaction with children in the audience.

“This performance is geared toward children,” said Martha Malone, a voice and opera professor in Mercer’s Townsend School of Music as well as the director of “A Muskrat Lullaby.”

“Even the 23 minute time length is in place so we do not lose the attention span of the children,” Malone said.

Young students from Vineville Academy and St. Peter Claver Catholic School will also perform in the production.

“A Muskrat Lullaby” tells the story of a group of swamp animals who avoid being eaten by an alligator—and his alligator gang—by singing a beautiful lullaby that casts them all into a deep sleep. The opera’s band of characters includes a bird, a toad, a spider and a muskrat.

The opportunity to sing along with Mercer students has been beneficial to the young performers involved.

“This type of interaction will help children develop at a faster pace because it teaches them teamwork and responsibility,” Malone said. She also believes “working with others in the arts” will help the children focus on their artistic expression and perhaps help them discover new things about themselves.

The production involves a great deal of audience interaction in order to create an exchange of feelings and understanding between the characters onstage and the audience.

“Opera is the most important, expressive and powerful art form,” Malone said.  “Operas involve the dramatic (arts), music, visual arts, and the kinesthetics of dance,” which, when combined, “create an emotional experience that takes you out of everyday life.”

Performances of the opera are currently traveling to elementary schools in the Macon area.

Additionally, four free performances will be open to the community at Mercer’s Neva Langley Fickling Hall on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 26 at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

For more information about the production and Mercer University Opera, please visit music.mercer.edu/opera/.

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