A cast of thousands and a funny one at that in The Inspector, one of two Moores Opera offerings.
A cast of thousands and a funny one at that in The Inspector, one of two Moores Opera offerings.
Photo by Buck Ross

The Inspector and The Secret Marriage Show Off the Funnier Side of Opera at Moores Opera Center

The opera The Inspector is based upon a Russian play, The Government Inspector by Nicolai Gogol. "It's a very famous play. Every student reads it in theater class," says Buck Ross, the director of Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston.

Eventually someone came up with the idea of making a comic opera out of the material, but composer John Musto moved the setting to Sicily, saying, according to Ross, "I don't know how to write funny Russian music."

Instead Musto found his comedy in Mussolini's Italy in the 1930s. And put it into a short comic opera in two acts that runs about 90 minutes.

Following the intensity of The Crucible and before the seriousness of this spring’s production of Romeo and Juliet, Moores Opera Center decided to go with two Italian comedies for its winter presentations. In addition to The Inspector, it is doing The Secret Marriage, which Ross calls “after the Mozart operas, the most famous comic opera of the 18th century.” Domenico Cimarosa was the composer and Giovanni Bertati the librettist. Legend is that Leopold II liked it so much that he watched it twice in one night.

"Inspector premiered in 2011 at Wolf Trap [performing arts center in Virginia] and one of my former students was in the premiere and called me while they were in rehearsal and said, ‘You’re going to want to do this piece. It’s very funny,’” Ross says.

Performances are scheduled for January 26-30. The Secret Marriage: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Monday, 2 p.m. Saturday. The Inspector: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Saturday, Sunday. UH main campus - 120 School of Music Building. For information call 713- 743-3313 or visit uh.edu/cota/music/opera. $12 students and seniors, $20 adults.

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