Front Row Reviewers

An Interview with Mandi Barrus and Dr. Anthony T. Buck about Le Roman de Silence (The Romance of Silence) Opera

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers

Interview by Jennifer Mustoe, Front Row Reviewers

Anthony Buck and Mandi Barrus are here to talk about Buck’s new project, Le Roman de Silence Opera, a chamber opera performance in mid-May in Salt Lake City.

La Roman de Silence is in English, but has a French title and one song is in French with projected supertitles in English.

FRR: What is the craziest or most creative way you can think of to summarize the plot of this production?
Anthony Buck, (AB): Girl dressed as boy conquers the Medieval world while singing high notes.
Mindy Barrus (MB): There’s a person named Silence (it’s not pronounced the way you think it is), there’s a figure named Nurture who sings really high in a countertenor voice (kinda wild if you’ve never heard one before, and something you definitely want to experience before you die!) and there’s a figure named Nature who sings really fast coloratura notes in a scale you may not have heard before. There’s Silence’s parents, there’s kings, queens, minstrels, a wizard, a dragon, a battle, all the things you would expect from a medieval story. But there’s also sexual harassment, violence, alcoholism, an LGBTQIA+ love story, gender questioning and non-conformity, and other topics that we in modern times deal with on the daily. And all of it is sung by gorgeous professional opera singers, with projected supertitles so you can understand the words (even though they’ll be singing in English most of the time, we all know that sometimes opera singers are hard to understand).

FRR: If you had to describe the process of putting on this show with one word, what would it be and why?
AB: Love. I made this show because I love it.
MB: Vision! Without a strong and clear vision, there’s nothing to work from. Anthony had this really interesting medieval story that he adapted into a libretto and that he wanted to set as an opera, and when he couldn’t quite find the right composer to partner with him to write the music, he decided to go for it himself! That takes a ton of foresight and clear understanding of the story, and confidence in your musical knowledge!

FRR: What is the most interesting, funny, wonderful thing you’ve learned while working on this production?
AB: I don’t have to wait for someone to tell me I can do something before I try it.
MB: Personally, while singing the role of Nature, I’ve learned to sing in the Pentatonic scale, which is different from the typical major and minor modes you may have learned in music class. It’s a scale used all over the world but not very often heard in Western music. It sounds very earthy and cool, and I love that it’s what Anthony the composer chose to use to represent the voice of Nature. But it sure was a learning curve for me!

FRR: What do you do right before each performance to get ready? Right after each performance?
MB: I like to nebulize saline (shout-out to my $40 Amazon nebulizer) which helps my vocal tract to calm down and be ready for singing. I warm up, and usually I’m working on some type of producer duties right before the show starts (introducing the show, thanking our sponsors, making sure people know how to access the digital program, etc)

This is information from Le Roman de Silence‘s Facebook Event:

Join us for a semi-staged reading of Anthony T. Buck’s new opera, Le Roman de Silence.

This new opera, with music and libretto by SLC composer Dr. Anthony T. Buck, is based on writings from the first half of the 13th Century by Heldris of Cornwall (which may have been King Arthur using a pseudonym).

The story of Silence, a woman raised as a man in medieval Europe, will draw you in with magic, dragons, adventure, and love. This opera asks us to rethink our assumptions about gender roles and identity, sexual identity, and whether Nature and Nurture are friends or foes.

The performance will be sung in concert style in English and short portions of French, with projected supertitles in English, and will be performed with chamber orchestra. Suggested rating of PG-13 for language, violence, and gender content.

The producing organization, Opera Contempo, is a non-profit chamber opera company located in Salt Lake. Founded in 2020, our vision is to commission new works, promote new voices, and produce new settings of opera and vocal works. @Opera Contempo

Julia Gershkoff, Silence
Mandi Barrus, Nature
Michael Shoaf, Nurture
Court Thomas, Jean
Tyler Oliphant, The Old Man
Charity Johansen, King Euan/Mother
Ricky Parkinson, Queen Eufeme/Father
Fabrizio Doria, Heldris/Nun
Kahli Dalbow, Soprano 1
Hilary Koolhoven, Soprano 2/Nature Cover
ShaRee Larsen, Alto 1
Natalie Easter, Alto 2
Alexander Harrelson, Tenor 1
Brian Tanner, Tenor 2
Michael Rasmussen, Bass 1
Gerta Wiemer, piano

Le Roman de Silence by Dr. Anthony T. Buck
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,  261 900 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
Saturday May 18, 2024 7:30 PM, Sunday May 19, 2024 3:00 PM
Free admission, free will offerings accepted

Front Row Reviewers

Front Row Reviewers


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