Southeast River Campus Hosting ‘Opera for Schools,’ Showcasing Puccini Operas


Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Music, in collaboration with The Jeanine Larson Dobbins Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, will host more than 700 area students for an “Opera for Schools” performance Jan. 30. 

“Opera for the Schools” will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at Southeast’s River Campus.

The program is an opportunity for third-12th grade students from 13 southeast Missouri schools to experience and learn about opera performances, said Dr. Christopher Goeke, professor of music at Southeast. 

“‘Opera for Schools’ is an extension of our yearly full opera presentation with orchestra, full staging and costumes,” he said. “We always have had a wonderful response from the students. We provide an introduction about the opera and the shows we are doing to help them understand the style. We also use supertitles for the students so they can follow the action and get all the humor.” 

This year’s production includes two Puccini one-act operas – the beautifully dramatic “Suor Angelica” (Sister Angelica) and the insanely funny “Gianni Schicchi.”  

Suor Angelica” is a touching story placed in the Convent of Santa Maria Cellole, outside Siena, Italy. The story focuses on Sister Angelica, a young woman who was forced to take the veil after having a child out of marriage. The show includes soaring orchestrations and vocal writing, sung in the original Italian (with supertitles) and will feature guest artist Amy Mazzeo in the title role.  

“Gianni Schicchi” is a comedy placed in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, 1935, and centers on the very dysfunctional Donati family, Italian emigrants hustling to make a life in the new world. After the passing of their dear Uncle Buoso, the aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews appear to be in sincere mourning. However, when the relatives discover that Buoso left all his riches to the local friars, their true colors are revealed.  They spat, bicker and quarrel (sometimes in Italian) about what to do until finally agreeing to bring in the local “fixer,” Gianni Schicchi, to find a solution. Schicchi is not well-liked by the family because he is Sicilian, but they are willing to go along with his plan. However, the mastermind has a secret twist in store – much to the family’s chagrin.  

“Gianni Schicchi” will be performed in a new English translation with supertitles. 

Additionally, the Department of Music and Conservatory will present two public performances of “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi” on Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bedell Performance Hall. 

“This is a beautiful and entertaining night at the opera,” Goeke said. 


Tickets may be purchased by contacting the River Campus Box Office, located in the Cultural Arts Center, 518 S. Fountain St., weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., by calling (573) 651-2265, or online at 

For those interested in dinner and a show, “Puccini and Pasta” will be held Jan. 31 at Gabriel’s Food and Wine in downtown Cape Girardeau. Tickets, which include dinner and the opera, are available at