If you know nothing else about opera, chances are you'll recognize the tune ''La donna è mobile'' from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto. An immediate hit at the time (1851), the song had a much easier initial passage than the opera itself, which at least one censor thought was disgracefully obscene. The opera, of course, went on to great success and is now regularly performed around the world. This time, it's a college opera group tackling it.
According to soprano Ashly Neumann, a second-year grad student at the University of Houston who alternates the role of the beautiful Gilda with Kirsten Leslie, director Buck Ross believes he has the collection of talent right now to pull it off. ''I'm playing Gilda, the daughter of Rigoletto, the court jester. Gilda has been seeing this duke at church. He bribes her nurse so they can have an encounter,'' Neumann says. What follows is love on her part and lust and abandonment on his. All of that is overlaid with a curse that had been placed on her father and the duke by the father of a young woman previously wronged by the duke with the encouragement of Rigoletto.
Neumann says anyone who hasn't seen opera at the Moores's 800-seat theater is missing something. ''To see the opera in such an intimate setting at Moores Opera House,'' she says, ''it's just a fantastic experience.'' 7:30 p.m. April 5 and 2 p.m. April 7. University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun. For information, call 713‑743-3313 or visit uh.edu. $12 to $20.
Fri., April 5; Sun., April 7, 2013