UNI School of Music to Present World Premiere Opera: “The Beehive”



UNI School of Music combines opera and storytelling. Experince an emotional performance on March 30 and March 31 at 7:30 p.m.


The world of opera may seem intimidating and difficult to follow for those who are unfamiliar with it, but many might find that it has a lot to offer its audiences. Opera provides a unique experience, allowing its audiences to experience storytelling in a powerful and emotionally direct way. 

On Thursday, March 30 and March 31, at 7:30 p.m., UNI School of Music will be presenting the world premiere performances of “The Beehive,” a newly commissioned opera. The show will be located in Bengtson Auditorium in Russell Hall. 

Loosely based on a short story titled “The Overcoat”  by Ukrainian author, Nikolai Gogol, “The Beehive” follows the story of Abby, a hairstylist in Black Hawk County who is struggling to find her identity in the hairstyling community. 

Opera can come off as menacing to those who have little experience with it, but this show has been made extremely accessible, as it is completely in English and will have supertitles displayed. The show is also free and open to the public so that anyone may attend. 

The UNI Opera Ensemble, directed by Richard Gammon and vocal coach Korey Barrett and Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erik Rohde will be performing this piece.

“It will be the first time anyone has ever seen the piece and is a great opportunity to be witness to a new work!” said Gammon. “The Beehive” was commissioned specifically for the students of UNI. It was created by Jorge Sosa, composer, and Melisa Tien, librettist, who have implemented a musical style influenced by pop and jazz music which is performed by an orchestra. 

There are many misconceptions about opera such as the idea that it is too hard to understand as it is often performed in a foreign language or the words seem unintelligible due to the style of singing, however, the creative team has worked hard to put together a piece that will reach all audiences. The show will be 75 minutes full of humor, joy and tears for viewers to enjoy.

“We have greatly enjoyed being able to work with such a large and wonderful team. The joy and spirit of collaboration is very present here at UNI!” said Gammon. The team comprises people from all over, including a hair and makeup designer from New Jersey, a costume designer from Michigan and a composer and a librettist from New York who have all come together in a joint effort to perform a piece that has never been seen before. 

“We are also so happy to be working with so many UNI designers, choreographers and technicians – many of them coming from the Theatre Department and the Gallagher Bluedorn!” commented Gammon. 

Students and audience members are also encouraged to stay behind and attend a talk back after Thursday night’s show with the composer and librettist to discuss more about the show itself and what goes on behind the scenes. This is a great opportunity for the audience to ask questions and learn more about the  performances. Students can go to music.uni.edu to learn more about “The Beehive” or other UNI School of Music events happening this spring.