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Threepenny for 300

What a difference a stage makes

Past and present stand side by side for Tufts Opera Ensemble: it was only a few years ago that the potted plants and fireplace of Alumnae Lounge were makeshift mainstays of each performance "set." Nowadays the ensemble has not only graduated from the Aidekman Arts Center to its neighbor, the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center, members are also graduating with impressive musical resumes—thanks in large part to the opening of the Distler Performance Hall. "The Granoff building has made a huge difference in the performance life at Tufts," says Tufts Opera Ensemble Director Carol Mastrodomenico. "I have watched students sing full opera roles with orchestra because of this space. The growth both musically and dramatically has been tremendous."

A Threepenny for 300

This spring, Tufts Opera Ensemble performed Kurt Weill's the Threepenny Opera, its third full opera in Distler Hall. Members of the Threepenny cast appreciate that performing in a state-of-the-art acoustically innovative space for an audience of 300 is no ordinary opportunity. "I've only ever known Distler as a recital hall, but now we have the lights and the sets—it's exciting," says Suzanne Lis, A13. "This role was a true introduction to being on stage a lot, and I loved being constantly challenged to explore, change things, and go further."

Long-time ensemble member Doug Helman, A11, agrees. "The electricity of stepping on stage, of connecting with an audience in that moment, is unique. You can't get it anywhere else." Also unavailable anywhere else: veteran guest-stars President Lawrence S. Bacow and Adele Fleet Bacow. "That was fun," says Helman, "and they were very comfortable on stage!" As for the final bow: "It feels like months and months of worry and stress and hard work were completely, totally, and absolutely worth it. Music is what I've chosen to do at Tufts," he adds, "and this space has really allowed a lot more to happen than might have—we're beyond lucky." Department of Music Chair Joseph Auner says that while the Granoff Music Center opened four years ago, "I know that for all the thousands of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community who walk through its doors, the transformative impact of this facility and all its musical resources is just beginning."