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Hannah Knutson ’18 rehearses for her leading role.

New Opera Production Celebrates the Lives of Catholic Women

Hannah Knutson ’18 stars in the lead in the college’s new production of “Suor Angelica,” or “Sister Angelica.” The work – the first full-length opera produced by the music department since the 2009-10 academic year, is offered to raise awareness of the contribution of women in the Catholic Church. 

“‘Sister Angelica’ is one of the most performed operas in the States,” director Yi-Lan Niu (Music) says, “[and] most of the roles are performed by female singers.” 

The Puccini opera centers around the story of Sister Angelica, a young nun struggling to cope with being separated from, and not hearing about, her family.

“I have never had to play a character who was in such turmoil,” Knutson says. “Trying to pull those emotions of desperation, pure sadness and longing out … trying to feel what Angelica is feeling … has been a definite challenge, but a fun challenge.” 

In addition to Knutson and other music majors in the cast, the production – performed in English – features guest performers Linda Feldmann (Music) and local soprano Angela Danowski. 

The production honors a focus for this year on celebrating Catholic women’s lives – an initiative by the college’s committee on equity, diversity and inclusion.

Opera at St. Norbert
The college’s music department offers opera workshops every year. Full-length opera productions offered in recent years include “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Beggar’s Opera” and “La Perichole.”

“Full operas have been done here since 1966,” says accompanist Elaine Moss 79 (Music). This year, the department was fortunate to have enough female singers to perform this particular work.

Tickets for “Sister Angelica,” which will see its premier at Birder Hall on campus, Saturday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m., are available at $6 to the general public, free to all SNC music students.


Nov. 1, 2016