Frankoviches transform classic tale into locally produced opera

<p>Bob and Wilma Frankovich, photographed in their home studio in Surfside.</p> <div><br /></div>

OCEAN PARK — Love, greed and promises from a Brothers Grimm fairytale have inspired a local composer and singing wordsmith duo to create a musical theater production of a classic children’s story with an adult interpretation. 

“Rumpelstiltskin: A Fairy Tale Opera in Two Acts” is Bob and Wilma Frankovich’s take on the whimsical tale set in medieval times that has been told in numerous languages to generations of adolescents. 

A miller leads a king to believe that the miller’s daughter can spin straw into gold. Locked away in a tower with a pile of straw — and no skill of producing gold thread — the girl is appraising her impending doom when a strange character of a man comes to her aid. Contingent upon her promises of repayment, the man turns the straw into gold. But when she later is faced with fulfilling her promise, her only reprieve is to guess the man’s name — Rumpelstiltskin. 

The Frankoviches both have decades of experience in the musical field and say what made the story so great for their project is that it is both comedic and tragic. And Wilma says she just knew “it would be a gas” to produce a script and songs with their own interpretations.

Wilma studied music — with an emphasis in music history and opera — in college, receiving her bachelor’s degree at Washington State College and her master’s at University of Arizona. A two-time southwest regionals finalist for the Metropolitan Opera auditions, she has held lead opera roles and once received an “Outstanding Music Teacher of the Year” award for the state of Idaho.

Bob also studied music, having majored in French horn. He received his bachelor’s at Brigham Young University and earned his master’s at Utah State. 

“I became enamored with opera and the music, and eventually music composition and theory,” he remembers. “I say ‘Opera is life.’ It’s a story — whether comic or tragical — it’s a story of life. It is life.”

He has also been the principal hornist in an opera orchestra and played with the Utah Symphony Orchestra in Salt Lake City.

The pair met while teaching junior high and high school music classes in Moscow, Idaho. Now each of them are radio programmers at KMUN — Bob with his jazz show and Wilma with her opera show.

Wilma wrote the “Rumpelstiltskin” script and 17 songs for the show, to which her husband composed the music. Together they developed the characters and captured each scene’s mood through carefully chosen words and notes, all while keeping it appropriate to the time period.

Bob says the compositions were written with a chamber orchestra in mind, utilizing strings (violin, viola and cello), woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon), and percussion (timpani, snare drum, tambourine, xylophone and bells), as well as piano. 

“Everything but pots and pans!” he quips.

The Frankoviches will hold auditions at the Peninsula Players’ River City Playhouse in Ilwaco on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. There are eight character roles, four of which have singing parts — two baritones, one tenor and one soprano. The chorus will need soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices.

Anyone interested in auditioning — whether for a speaking, singing or instrumental role — should contact them to obtain practice materials. They can be reached at 665-3550 or wfrank@willapabay.org

“Rumpelstiltskin” will be performed at the Peninsula Players’ River City Theater in Ilwaco on July 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22.

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