‘Don Giovanni’ lecture-recital brings together musical artists and humanists

From left: Dr. John Karr, Dr. Maria Briggs and Limuel Forgey at the Don Giovanni lecture/recital

Photo above, from left: Dr. John Karr, Dr. Maria Briggs and Limuel Forgey

~ By Lisa Maria Boyles, communications specialist for the College of Arts and Humanities

Spanish and voice students took their learning outside of the traditional classroom and into Fresno State’s Concert Hall on Friday, for a cross-disciplinary lecture-recital that examined Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.”

This collaborative effort between the Department of Music and the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures combined operatic singing, lecture and a question-and-answer segment in a 50-minute class performance.

Soprano Maria BriggsSpanish Professor Dr. María Dolores Morillo López worked with music history Professor Dr. John Karr to provide historical context. Voice and opera Professor Dr. Maria Briggs (soprano) and master’s student Limuel Forgey (baritone) performed several musical numbers from the 1787 opera, accompanied on piano by Drew Quiring.

“The whole thing was Dr. Morillo’s idea,” Briggs said. “This presentation is part of her class where she is teaching the students about the history of Don Juan and various treatments by different authors and genres.”

Morillo’s Spanish 148T class “The Myth of Don Juan: From El Bulador de Sevilla to the Present” examines the evolving image of the man across geographic, linguistic and artistic boundaries.

“The course explores the different dimensions of the character of Don Juan in the arts, such as literature, music, painting and film, while exerting a critical gaze from other disciplines’ perspectives such as gender, psychology and Latina/o studies,” Morillo said. “As part of this interdisciplinary approach, I reached out to and teamed up with colleagues from the College of Arts and Humanities.”

Soprano Maria Briggs and bariton Limuel ForgeyMorillo is involving other colleagues as well. French Professor Dr. Natalie Muñoz talked to Morillo’s students about Molière’s “Dom Juan.” English Professor Dr. J. Ashley Foster and theatre Professor Dr. Gina Sandi-Diaz will introduce the class to Sylvia Townsend Warner’s “After the Death of Don Juan” and Carlos Morton’s “Johnny Tenorio,” respectively.

“It is proving to be an amazing opportunity for my students to get to know different faculty members across our College and their research; see first-hand their artistic and academic talents, and be able to relate to the different artistic expressions, styles, aesthetic movements, etc. through this controversial but universal character, Don Juan Tenorio.”

Associate Dean Honora Chapman likes events like these that create intersections between the college’s different disciplines:

“The College is delighted to see that this event in connection with a course has brought together both artists and humanists to explore the meaning of the Don Juan tale across genres, nations and time.”

Another such interdisciplinary event will take place next month. “Voice and Silence: Women in Opera and Philosophy” will present a lecture recital featuring Briggs and Dr. Tina Botts of the Department of Philosophy. Botts and Briggs will explore the ways women use their voices and are silenced in the fields of philosophy and opera.

“Women in Opera and Philosophy” is part of this year’s Center for Creativity and the Arts theme, Voice and Silence.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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