The Night of the Diva Review

On April 22 Millikin students and alumni participated in Art Circus’ “Night of the Diva.” The energy in the room was palpable. Donnie’s was filled to the brim with patrons and performers alike, all waiting for the show to start. The “ringmaster” of the show first introduced Millikin’s Tudor voices. Dr. Gorton introduced all three of the groups songs with terrible jokes that gave the audience a sense of embarrassment as well making a few people a little bit uncomfortable. Tudor Voices did a great job showcasing their voices and gave a wonderful performance, but they were nothing compared to what was to come.

The first performance of “diva” of the night was freshman vocal performance major Allison Hodges. Hodges sang Guiseppe Verdi’s “Saper Vorreste (Oscar)” beautifully. As the first performance of the night, she was not one to disappoint. The audience clapped enthusiastically when she concluded. She was just the beginning.

Second up was Logan Schildknecht, and I could tell as soon as she began singing Claude Debussy’s “Beau Soir” that her performance was going to be impressive. Schildknecht sang beautifully, I could tell that she really put her heart into the song. Needless to say, I was impressed.

Mary McCormack was up next with Mozart’s “Batti, Batti.” I especially liked this performance, due to the fact that “Batti, Batti” was one of two songs during the whole show that I actually recognized. That’s not to say that I didn’t appreciate the songs that I didn’t recognize, it’s just that I made me feel a little less out of place hearing a song that I am familiar with. McCormack sounded beautiful, and I feel that she did the song justice. So thanks Mary.

Wyatt Burton was next with another familiar song, “Loch Lomond.” Burton sang in the accent usually associated with the song, which I particularly enjoyed. He sang with such feeling and clarity that I actually got chills. I have never been so upset that a song wasn’t longer in my life.

Next up was Madi Mertz, who sang Handel’s “V’Adoro Pupille.” Mertz sang with feeling and hit notes that I didn’t think was humanly possible. She graced the stage with an air of confidence and regality. She helped herself give off that affect by looking kind of like a Disney princess.

The last of Millikin’s present students performing, Emily Wheeler, graced the audience with two songs. Gillbert and Sullivan’s “Tis Done, I am a Bride” and Giocomo Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.” Despite a slight false start with “Tis Done, I am a Bride,” Wheeler came in singing strong and confidently. She truly embodied the character of a “diva” with her gestures and facial expressions. Both of her performances were a treat to listen too.

The Art Circus had brought in a Millikin Alumn for the last performance of the night. Erica Nwachukwu wowed the audience with her performance of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Some may have recognized the piece from “Porgy and Bess,” which was performed at Millikin the week before. Nwachukwu showed off her experience and schooling excellently. She gave a haunting and wonderful performance, causing screams of “you go girl” and “yasss” to erupt from the audience.

Overall, “Night of the Diva” was very impressive. “It provided opera singers with an opportunity to showcase our talents in a closer setting, instead of on a larger stage that we are used to,” said performer Allison Hodges. The audience was thrilled to be able to listen to the singers in a different and closer setting. The performers themselves had a great time. “It was a really awesome experience,” said Madi Mertz. Hopefully, this will become a yearly thing so that students and the general public can experience Millikin’s talent.