CARBONDALE — Opera and art come together for two nights of fun as Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Opera Ensemble presents “Amelia Goes to the Ball.” The 1930s classic, lighthearted comedy will have you rolling with laughter as Amelia faces a variety of struggles on her way to an important dance.

The free performances are set for 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 9 at Carbondale Community Arts' Artspace 304. The 50-minute one-act opera blends exquisite music with hilarious stage action, while the art gallery setting provides a relaxing element to the evening. No prior registration is required.

As the premiere work for Italian-American composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti, “Amelia Goes to the Ball” has received notable attention over the years. Now, graduate and undergraduate students in SIU’s Opera Ensemble class are gearing up to present a lively rendition of the classic performance.

The upcoming performance, directed by David Dillard, associate professor in voice and voice area coordinator, features an all-student cast and choreography group. Accompanying the piece is Anita Hutton, SIU graduate and former campus staff member.

The Opera Ensemble serves as a required class for graduate students working toward a voice performance degree. However, the class and upcoming show also features undergraduate students from music and other programs.

While “Amelia Goes to the Ball” is the only show of the semester, students are using it as a springboard for the annual Southern Illinois Music Festival’s operatic performances in June.

As a partner in the performance, Carbondale Community Arts is also hosting a national ceramics exhibition that overlaps with the upcoming show. Audience members can show up a little early for the opera, have a glass of wine, check out the exhibition, and settle in for the fun, 50-minute performance, Dillard said.

“I love the idea of combining art and music, and then hosting an opera, all in an unconventional space like an art gallery,” Dillard said. “The space has an openness and the boundary between stage and audience is more fluid.”

For Brianna Sitton, music vocal performance student, community involvement is vital to keep shows like this alive. This performance is perfect for the community because it keeps people entertained and impacted by the music, while also supporting the arts, Sitton said.

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