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    Witches of Macbeth
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    "The old-fashioned theatrics of live theater are the best. When you see this stuff happen in front of your eyes, that's the exciting stuff. We're going for a lot of smoke and mirror moments." That's the promise of Keturah Stickann, who will be directing Kentucky Opera's Macbeth, which opens the season this Friday night. 

    Giuseppe Verdi, inspired by Shakespeare's story of ambition, madness, and murder, composed his classic opera in 1847 and revised it in 1865. He focused on the darkness and drama of the play and wanted the singers to have the vocal styles and acting ability to bring it to life. Starring in the title role of this production is Canadian baritone, Gregory Dahl, alongside soprano Lyne Fortin as Lady Macbeth. 

    Keturah Stickann​Stickann is confident that her cast will be up to the challenge. "It's fun to be bad on stage. It's fun to play weird things, and scary things, and angry things - to explore that side of our humanity.... I have a cast of singers and a chorus that have just been so willing and excited to jump into all these different ideas we have about this, and I think we've created something really exciting." Stickann emphasizes the importance of the chorus. "I like an active chorus. I don't like a chorus that just trudges on stage, stands there and stares at the audience, sings, and then walks off. Especially in Macbeth, the chorus and the witches -- they are their own character, and they need to be treated that way."

    This is Stickann's first time with Kentucky Opera, although she and conductor Joe Mechavich have worked together before on other productions. "I trust this maestro implicitly. I think Joe is just incredibly great on the podium. He's got a lot to say about the sound, and I don't think he's ever steered anybody wrong." 

    As for Stickann's background in opera, she actually started on the stage. "I started working for Chicago Opera Theater as a dancer and fell in love with it. I knew that when I moved to the other side of the table, opera was the medium I wanted to be involved with."

    From dancing, to choreography, and finally to directing, Stickann has followed through on her goal to make opera her home. She is particularly grateful that she's had the chance to work with some of the most talented composers in contemporary opera. She did the original choreography for Jake Heggie's magnificent Moby Dick, which premiered at the Dallas Opera in 2010. (Kentucky Opera will mount Heggie's Three Decembers in November, starring Denyce Graves.) She also continues to work as an assistant in productions helmed by Leonard Foglia, who she considers to be one of her primary mentors, most recently in Santa Fe for the world premiere of Jennifer Higdon's Cold Mountain. "I still learn so much just by being in the same room with that man."

    As much fun as she has with classic operas, Stickann says that nothing beats being in the same room as the composer. "That process of creating something from the ground up - you are making a piece of art that has never existed before. There's something so delicious and terrifying about it, in the best possible way....It's the other side of keeping our art form alive. We have to make new work in order to go forward, but we have to celebrate work that's already there in order to keep the roots strong and deep."

    Kentucky Opera presents Macbeth this Friday, September 18 at 8 p.m. at the Brown Theatre and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. You can buy tickets online or call the Kentucky Center box office at 502-584-7777. 

    Photo Credit: Witches Chorus from Pacific Opera Victoria; Keturah Stickann - courtesy of Kentucky Opera

    Selena Frye's picture

    About Selena Frye

    I'm a writer and editor living in Louisville since 1996. I'm originally from the Blue Ridge of Virginia.

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