Actors play musicians in Park Square's "Opus"

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
May 16, 2011
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St. Paul, Minn. — It can be kind of scary when a dramatic work gets its relationships exactly right, especially when in it's in the rarefied world of the string quartet.

"Opus" is a play by Michael Hollinger that tells the story of a world-class string quartet and all their pettiness and power struggles on their way to making great music.

They replace their violist at the last minute right before going on live TV to play one of the hardest pieces in the literature - Beethoven's Opus 131.

The play is making its regional premiere at Park Square Theater and runs through the end of May. It's intense, funny and riveting as the five characters (string quartet plus an extra violist) tell the stories of playing in a quartet which can be as satisfying as love-making or as disturbing as drinking Drano!

Hollinger is a former violist, so he knows a thing or two about playing in intimate surroundings. The actors in Opus have little to no experience holding - let alone playing - a string instrument. For this, Park Square brought in some of the best in the business to make the playing - and the holding - seem natural.

SPCO Principal Violist Sabina Thatcher - who also plays in the Rosalyra Quartet - was one of the consultants. She stopped by the Classical MPR studios to share her secrets and insights into making things such a success.

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