Hillman Opera marks 60 years of collaboration at SUNY Fredonia

When the opera “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) is presented at SUNY Fredonia this November, it will represent at special milestone – 60 years of collaboration between the Hillman Memorial Music Association and the college.

This year’s Hillman Opera, which is again a collaborative effort between the SUNY Fredonia School of Music, the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Hillman Memorial Music Association, will be presented in King Concert Hall on the SUNY Fredonia campus at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Julie Newell, School of Music faculty member and Hillman producer, said the Hillman Memorial Music Association is named for Jessie Hillman, a founder of the Music Education curriculum at Fredonia.

“She was a special woman dedicated to bringing music into the wider community,” Newell said. “The first Hillman Association members volunteered their time painting sets and sewing costumes, making a special opportunity for Fredonia music students come to life. In later years, dedicated community members and faculty sponsored dinners and other fund raising activities, both to benefit the Opera and the Hillman Memorial Music Associa-tion’s very generous scholarship program.”

Since 1989, Newell said the Hillman Opera has taken on a decidedly “professional” quality offering student performers the chance to work on professionally created stage settings, wear professionally crafted costumes and work with technology now common in professional opera houses.

Alumni of the Fredonia Hillman Opera appeared on operatic stages worldwide, are prominent faculty in university and conservatory operatic training programs and bring the beauty and significance of opera to classrooms of children, experiencing the art form for the first time.

“Opera is, by its very nature, collaborative,” New-ell said. “It cannot exist without the devoted efforts of all involved to work for the greater good of the production. The community- campus connection brings this spirit of collaboration to a unique level, and is one of the most treasured traditions in SUNY Fredonia’s long and distinguished history.”

This year’s production features Gioachino Rossini’s classic work “La Ceneren-tola” (Cinderella), which follows the storyline of the familiar fairy tale with some notable alterations. Cin-derella has a stepfather rather than a stepmother and the fairy godmother role falls to the character of Alidoro, the prince’s tutor. Prince Ramiro’s valet Dandini takes on a significant role.

In addition, there is no glass slipper in “La Cenerentola.” Instead, it is a pair of diamond bracelets which the couple uses to find each other again after the ball has ended.

Tickets for “La Cenerentola” are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 and online at fredonia.edu/tickets.