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Little Sharp Ears
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Little Sharp Ears
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Little Sharp Ears

URBANA — Director Sarah Wigley realizes that some have preconceived notions about the opera.

But today through Sunday, she wants people to put those assumptions aside for Lyric Theatre’s performance of “Little Sharp Ears” at Krannert Center’s Tryon Festival Theater.

“It’s the perfect introductory opera,” Wigley said. “It’s absolutely for anyone who thinks they don’t like opera but are ready to experience an opera.

“It is a ton of movement. It’s never what you think of as ‘park and bark,’ where you just stand and sing. We’re talking grasshoppers and crickets and frogs hopping around the stage. Birds, insects buzzing.

“The costumes are absolutely out of this world. The costumes are ‘Lion King’ magnitude, full-on headpieces, fur, detail, detail, detail.”

The play takes place in Moravia, Czechoslovakia, in the early 1900s and is a take-off of a serial novella — essentially a comic series, Wigley said.

The opera will coincide with an exhibit at the Spurlock Museum that features Czech artist Joža Uprka, which depicts folk life at a similar time and location to the play and runs from Nov. 5 to Dec. 1.

The attention to detail goes deeper than the costumes. Wigley wanted to make sure her actors knew how to inhabit them.

“We have an animal-movement specialist full-time on the show to help our students know, ‘How does a badger move?’” she said. “Same thing with the foxes — they’ve got full tails, full masks. It’s really intense costuming.”

The recommended age range for the 90-minute performance is 6 and up, but Wigley doesn’t want that to deter adults.

“It’s a really beautiful piece, and it’s a beautiful story,” she said. “It’s about being with nature and the circle, the cycle of life. So it’s appropriate for all ages.

“I think adults will glean a really beautiful concept, but kids will think it’s super fun, because there’s barnyard animals and dragonflies dancing.

“I would feel comfortable calling it a spectacle show. It’s not your typical opera.”