When asked how many campus operas she has worked on at Harvard, Sarah S. Eggleston ’07 is hard put to recall the number.
“I have twenty posters on my wall from different shows,” she says, “but I think there are a few missing.”
Eggleston most recently produced the Lowell House Opera’s (LHO) revival of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s “Threepenny Opera,” which premiered on Wednesday night. She has worked with the LHO, the Dunster House Opera, and the Harvard Early Music Society, among other student music groups. She first took an interest in opera as a member of the Boston Children’s Opera, an after-school program for young singers.
My mom signed me up for the Boston Children’s Opera when I was nine years old. For me it was an extracurricular that was about meeting and hanging out with other people who thought that opera was cool. It’s kind of just gone from there. At Harvard I started out by performing freshman year, but since then, I’ve basically just been on staffs. I like singing, but I don’t do it very well, which is what I’ve come to learn.
The LHO’s rendition of “Threepenny Opera” is the first Harvard show that Eggleston has produced single-handedly.
With all of the problems that I’ve faced for this show, I think it’s been the best show I’ve worked on. It’s partly because I thought it was going to be a big catastrophe. When we started out, the budget looked kind of rough. We bought a new stage this year, and the rights for the show came out to a lot. So the whole thing from the start looked kind of precarious. But it really seems to have worked out. The cast has been really great, and the staff has been amazing.
Eggleston recalls singing in an LHO performance as a member of the Boston Children’s Opera.
The most fun show I worked on here was definitely [Tchaikovsky’s] “Eugene Onegin,” which was my last year of high school. From the very first day I got the e-mail saying that I was invited to be in the chorus until closing night, I was just on a high. It was in Russian, which was very exciting. But it was such a typical Harvard show. Every week we would have a music rehearsal followed by one hour of learning how to speak Russian. Not exactly something you need to do for an opera, where you can generally just learn from transliteration. But no, we got to learn how to conjugate verbs.
A joint-concentrator in Mathematics and Chemistry, Eggleston hopes to teach math after college. But she envisions theater as an element of her future.
I definitely want to stay with theater in some capacity. At this point I think it would be really fun to do high-school theater or theater with kids. I’ve had a great time with the Boston Children’s Opera. I still work there as a stage manager and as a camp counselor over the summer. In fact, I just performed there the other day as a pirate in “Treasure Island.”
But Eggleston doesn’t simply do opera for opera’s sake. Rather, she says, she enjoys the aesthetics as well as the interesting community.
People who do opera are definitely unique. I mean, where else do you get such divas? Then it’s that added complication of putting the music in with the staging. When an opera’s in another language, it’s even more exciting. There’s this element of, who knows what’s going to happen next? And it’s so much fun when you’ve got full costumes, full staging, full orchestra, full everything. It appeals to so many senses.