Mara Walker

Mara Walker

Local musicians will debut the original opera,“Le Cœur de La Pucelle," or “The Heart of The Maiden," at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at CoMMA.

With flying violinists, a pianist rising from the pit, performers from all over the world, and even a song inspired by 15th century symphonic rap, viewers of "The Heart of The Maiden” are certain to have a memorable experience.

Written and directed by Peter Corneliussen, music director at Corinth Reformed Church of Hickory, the opera tells the story of Joan of Arc (Jehanne La Pucelle) in conversation with four famous authors, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Christine de Pizan and Reginé Pernoud, all of whom published books about Joan of Arc.

Mark Twain called her the most wonderful human being that ever lived. Now she will come back to life, her memory returning down the stairway from heaven, showing a life full of love, joy, compassion, courage and eloquence.

The original opera is unique on many levels. Hickory native and rising UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Caroline Collins, 18, who plays Jehanne La Pucelle (Joan of Arc), took a leap of faith and learned French at only 16-years-old solely for “The Heart of the Maiden.”

“Not only is Caroline the perfect age for the lead role, but the beauty of Caroline is apparent as she plays Joan of Arc,” Corneliussen said. “Suited in her imported, customized armor from New Zealand made by the same artist who designed the armor for Lord of the Rings, her talent and heart merge as she easily slips into character.”

Mara Walker, director of choral music at Freedom High School, is playing St. Catherine, who inspires and comforts Joan of Arc with her heavenly voice. Walker is bringing along four of her talented students to star in the show. Just days after the production, Walker will fly to London to complete her Master of Music degree in Choral Music Education from Florida State University while studying with well-known Dr. Clifford Madsen and conducting with Dr. Andre Thomas.

“Mara sings like an angel and could star on any stage in the world,” Corneliussen said. “She serves as a mentor and inspiration for Caroline, and together they make magic.”

This extraordinary cast is coming together in Morganton from across the globe. Eleonora Cravini, an Italian-based concert pianist, will be rising out of the pit to stage level while playing a 6-foot grand piano. The world traveling zither virtuoso, Wilfried Scharf, is traveling from Linz, Austria to join the production.

Tickets are $20.28 including taxes and fees, and may be purchased online, by phone or directly from CoMMA’s Box Office, located at 401 S. College St. in Morganton. For complimentary, group, handicap, VIP, standing room and other special seating, contact 800-939-SHOW. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., except major holidays.

For more information, visit “The Heart of the Maiden” Facebook page.

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