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Austin Opera at the Texas Book Festival

You’re invited to come out and support Austin Opera at the 2014 Texas Book Festival!

Austin Opera is committed to fostering a deeper connection with our community through programs that entertain as they educate. So please join us and the TexasBook Festival at this FREE event to celebrate authors and their contributions to culture, ideas and imagination.

Don’t miss our season sneak peek! Austin Opera is scheduled to perform in the Entertainment Tent on Saturday, October 25th at 11:00 am to 11:45 am. Additionally, we will have an exhibitor booth throughout the duration of the festival with opportunities to win amazing prizes including opera tickets, Austin Opera merchandise and fun giveaways.

Bring a friend and enjoy a family-friendly weekend of  culture, entertainment and fun!

Visit the Texas Book Festival website for more details.

Please note: The Texas Book Festival ends at 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

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Opera Preview – A Masked Ball

What’s more exciting than political intrigue and thwarted romance?  Giuseppe Verdi’s A Masked Ball tells just such a tale, in this beautiful Austin Opera production. One of the world’s most frequently performed operas, A Masked Ball is cherished for its dynamic love triangle, struggles to remain in power and inevitable tragic demise.

Join us at Opera Preview for an sneak peek into A Masked Ball and learn more about Giuseppe Verdi, who composed this masterfully rich yet cunning drama. Furthermore, Austin Opera continues to expand its partnership with the University of Texas this year, as world renowned projection artist, Wendall Harrington, collaborates with UT Theatre and Dance students to create an unparalleled set based on light, illusion and projected imagery. Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Maestro Richard Buckley will lead our discussion.

Bring a friend and enjoy a night of food, fun and enlightening presentations!

Please note: 6:30 p.m. Appetizers and Cash Bar, 7:00 p.m. Presentation

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Still need tickets for A Masked Ball, November 8-16? It’s not too late to get great seats. Tickets start at just $24, with student tickets at $15.

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A MASKED BALL

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Austin Opera launches its 2014-2015 season with the masterfully rich and cunning drama of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un ballo in maschera), foundational support provided by the Georgia B. Lucas Foundation.

Join us for this new production, featuring a haunting new set, beautiful costumes and powerful vocal talents. This classic Verdi drama, featuring illicit love, loyalty and betrayal, presents a king, Riccardo, who has fallen for the wife of his best friend and closest adviser. When a fortune teller foresees his murder, Riccardo laughs it off, just as he has other rumors of his assassination. But as the plot unfolds we realize it’s not another person’s quest for power but rather revenge that will lead to his demise.

Stage director Leon Major collaborates with world-renowned projection artist Wendall Harrington to create a stage that uniquely dazzles while also drawing your attention to tuneful music and voices that make up Verdi’s magnificent composition. With the help of University of Texas at Austin and their Department of Theatre and Dance students, our magical set will transport you out of The Long Center and deep into the lives of these tragic characters whom you’ve just met. That’s the transformative power of opera, after all.

Based on the 1792 assassination of Swedish King Gustavo at a masked ball in Stockholm, the opera takes us through a full range of emotions with moments of lighter comic scenes mixed with intensely emotional ones. At the end of Verdi’s three acts, you’ll understand fully why this opera continues to stun audiences today.

A Masked Ball features the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.

A Masked Ball will be sung in Italian with the English translation projected above the stage, in three acts. An intermission will occur after Act 2.

 

Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.

Watch as Debut Artist Dominick Chenes performs a selection from A Masked Ball. Austin Opera is proud to introduce rising opera stars like Chenes to the Austin audience.


Artists:

Amelia – Mardi Byers

Oscar – Sara Ann Mitchell

Ulrica – Ann McMahon Quintero

Riccardo – Dominick Chenes

Renato – Jason Howard

Sam – Tom Corbeil

Tom – Matthew Trevino

Silvano – Greg Jebaily

Chief Justice – Holton Johnson

Amelia’s Servant – Evan K. Brown


Production Team:

Composer: Giuseppe Verdi | Libretto:  Antonio Somma | Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Leon Major| Projection Design: Wendall Harrington | Chorus Master: Marc David Erck | Scenic Designer: Richard Isackes | Costume Designer: Hope Bennett | Lighting Designer: Michelle Habeck


More about our Principal Artists:

Dominick Chenes, tenor singing Riccardo – Chenes, originally from Las Vegas, is a student of Mr. Bill Schuman at the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA). He earned a Bachelors and a Masters in Musical-Vocal Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Chenes won second prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation competition, as well as a grant award from the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation competition both in 2013.

Dominick will make his professional debut as Riccardo in Giuseppe Verdi’s A Masked Ball with Austin Opera.

Dominick made his AVA debut with the same role in April of 2013 and had the privilege of working with director, Maestro Tito Capobianco. That same year, Chenes attended the Russian Opera Workshop under the direction of Mr. Ghena Meirson. He also enjoyed three years of success at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Upcoming roles with AVA include, Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme, and Faust in Charles Gounod’s Faust.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM:

Francesca da Rimini, Russian Opera Workshop: “Mr. Chenes sang the challenging tenor role of Paolo with unflagging energy and masterful technique. As his music modulated ever upward in the love duet, the beauty of his voice, his stentorian tone, and his passionate performance had me sitting on the edge of my seat!”  – Ralph Helms, Philadelphia Fans of Classical Music 2013

Un ballo in maschera, The Academy of Vocal Arts: A breakout star is Dominick Chenes as Riccardo…his vocal quality just kept giving.  – Lew Whittington, Huffington Post

JasonHoward2

Jason Howard, baritone singing Renato – Jason Howard is known as one of the United Kingdom”s leading performers on the international operatic stage. Upon leaving his first career as a fireman he took up studies in London at Trinity and the Royal Colleges of music with John Wakefield and Norman Bailey respectively. He commenced his career at Scottish Opera, subsequently singing with all the major UK opera companies and orchestras. In the past fifteen years, as well as his UK performances, he has sung to critical acclaim throughout Europe and North America.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM:

Tosca, Frankfurt Opera: “His ‘declaration of love’ to Tosca was even so convincingly fervent, that every Tenor ought to be jealous.” -Epoch Times

Die Walküre, Longborough Festival Opera: “Jason Howard was an exceptional Wotan by any standards. His voice itself has something poised and patrician about it, a distinctive elegance and gravity which he deployed to establish the complexity and depth of Wotan.” -The Wagner Society News

Mardi_Byers_Headshot2013

Mardi Byers, soprano singing Amelia – Mardi Byers is best known in Austin for her performance in the title role of last season’s Tosca. Hailed as one of the most exciting and talented artists to have emerged from the United States in recent years, Byers is making her mark on international opera and concert stages including the Hamburg State Opera, Bregenz Festival, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, New York City Opera, Opera Frankfurt, and Finnish National Opera. Her triumphant opera debut as Floria Tosca at Theater Lübeck in 2003 earned her both critical and public acclaim, prompting invitations from leading opera houses to sing the major roles of her repertoire.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM:

Tosca, Austin Opera: “Her aria “Vissi d’arte” is astoundingly sung and acted, and her unspoken moment of fear and uncertainty at the end of the act is chilling and suspenseful.” -Broadway World

Tosca, Austin Opera: “The piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well deserved standing ovation from the audience.” -Austin Post

Sara Ann Mitchell

Sara Ann Mitchell, soprano singing Oscar – Austin audiences enjoyed Mitchell last season in her role as Gianetta in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. Mitchell, a coloratura soprano, is known for her shimmering voice and engaging stage presence.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM:

Kiss Me Again, Ohio Light Opera: “Sara Ann Mitchell is a delicious Fifi…Kiss Me Again lies low in Mitchell’s voice, too, but she makes the low notes as alluring as her coloratura top.” -Opera News

the piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. – See more at: http://www.austinpost.org/article/vai-tosca#sthash.opCHB3Zn.dpuf
the piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. – See more at: http://www.austinpost.org/article/vai-tosca#sthash.opCHB3Zn.dpuf
the piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. – See more at: http://www.austinpost.org/article/vai-tosca#sthash.opCHB3Zn.dpuf
the piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. – See more at: http://www.austinpost.org/article/vai-tosca#sthash.opCHB3Zn.dpuf
the piercing power of Byers made for a spectacular conclusion that provoked a well-deserved standing ovation from the audience. – See more at: http://www.austinpost.org/article/vai-tosca#sthash.opCHB3Zn.dpuf

ACT I, SCENE I

At a morning prayer meeting of government officials they praise Riccardo, Governor of the country. Among the generals and elected members there is a conspiracy to assassinate Riccardo. Oscar, Riccardo’s secretary, enters and asks Riccardo to review the guest list for the masked ball. The Governor is thrilled that Amelia, wife of his close friend and advisor, Renato, will be there. At that moment Oscar ushers Renato into the Governor’s office. Renato advises Riccardo of an assassination plot. Riccardo is aware of the conspiracy but will not take action against them. Their conversation is interrupted when the Chief Justice enters and demands that Riccardo sign a bill banishing Ulrica, a fortuneteller, who has established her presence at the local carnival. The Chief Justice accuses Ulrica, not only of deception but of destroying the morals of the public. Oscar jumps to Ulrica’s defense and describes her as a popular and harmless person, giving the citizenry some hope. Riccardo decides to see for himself; he calls for all to wear disguises, and to meet him at the carnival that evening.

ACT I, SCENE II

At the carnival Ulrica prepares to meet the public. She puts herself into a trance. Riccardo and Oscar, both disguised, enter and watch as she predicts good fortune for Silvano, a sailor in the Country’s navy. Riccardo sees to it that her prophecy comes true. Amelia enters and asks for a private audience with Ulrica. Amelia confesses she loves someone other than her husband and she wants to excise that love.

Ulrica suggests a specific plant found in a remote and desolate place that, if taken, will cure her of this love. Riccardo overhears and vows to follow her.

Members of the government arrive and watch as she predicts the Governor’s future and reluctantly reveals that the next man who shakes his hand will kill him. No one will. Renato enters and, since he did not hear the prophecy, happily shakes his hand. Since Renato is his best friend, Riccardo laughs at Ulrica’s prophecy.

ACT I, SCENE III

Amelia, in the dead of night goes to gather the herb, which, according to Ulrica, can cure her guilty love. Before she can use it Riccardo, who has followed, steps out of hiding and declares his passion for her and persuades her to confess that she loves him too. No sooner has she done so when her husband, Renato, enters to warn Riccardo that the conspirators have followed him. Amelia hides her face and both she and Renato implore Riccardo to flee. Riccardo makes Renato promise he will escort Riccardo’s (now veiled) lady back to the city without looking at her, and reluctantly leaves them. Moments later the assassins catch up with Renato and thinking he is Riccardo, threaten to kill him. Amelia drops her disguise in order to protect Renato. Renato assumes that his wife and Riccardo have been deceiving him. He arranges to meet the conspirators the next day.

ACT II, SCENE I

Renato resolves to kill Amelia but changes his mind and unites with those plotting to kill the Governor and opts to join them in the assassination plot. They draw lots to decide who will have the privilege of killing Riccardo.

ACT II, SCENE II

At the same time as the lots are being drawn Riccardo has decided not to pursue the romance and resolves to send both Renato and Amelia back to their native country.

ACT II, SCENE III

The masked ball begins. Renato and the conspirators force Oscar to reveal Riccardo’s disguise. At the ball Amelia tries to warn Riccardo but too late and Renato shoots him. In the chaos that follows Riccardo pardons all involved in the assassination.

To learn more about this production, we sat down with director  Leon Major, a Canadian opera and theater director, to preview his vision for A Masked Ball.

Leon Major directorALO: Give us an idea about your vision for the production.

Major: Essentially, A Masked Ball is about two people in love, a love that is not possible to satisfy because one of them is the wife of the best friend. So you’ve got private scenes and public scenes.

For this production, we’ll use a contemporary setting, and that has a basis in history. When Verdi first wrote Un ballo en maschera it was about the assassination of the king of Sweden in 1792. But he was forced to change it because the censors at that time would not allow you to display regicide on the stage.

So he changed it and set it in Italy, but again the censors rejected it because they would not allow the theatrical reenactment of any aristocracy or nobility being killed on the stage. So once again, he changed it, this time setting it in then-modern-day Boston, making the king the governor of a colony.

But really, you could set A Masked Ball in any country with almost any form of government because, as we well know, there are always factions within any government that want to destroy it.

ALO: The set for this production of “A Masked Ball” will be a projection design by Wendall Harrington, one of the world’s foremost and revered projection designers. What is it like telling a story with such a spare set?

Major: Well, sometimes opera productions obscure what the story is. So the goal here is to make sure the story is clear, as told through the singers. So in the first scene, in the prelude, we’ll see the representatives of this government in their gray suits coming in for the early morning meeting, which is the first chorus of the opera. And you’ll see this space completely defined by light.

Once that meeting is over, Riccardo comes in and is greeted by the parliamentarians and given papers that he has to review. So he goes into his private office, again totally defined by light, and his page, Oscar, comes in and hands him a list of people who will be at the ball. Riccardo looks down this list and sees the name of his love: “Oh, Amelia!” So immediately we establish who Amelia is and how Riccardo feels about her.

Then Renato, Amelia’s husband and Riccardo’s trusted advisor, comes into the Riccardo’s office, and we hear Riccardo think, “Oh my God, it’s her husband.” And that’s how we know who loves whom.

ALO: It’s interesting how you have to set-up such a complicated story so quickly and in another language! The English translation on the supertitles helps, but really isn’t it the work of Verdi to do it, right?

Major:Yes, Verdi masterfully sets-up the scene, the characters and their relationships before you. So what we learn in that early scene is that Renato is not only best friend and trusted advisor to Riccardo, but he also looks out for Riccardo by telling him that he has a list of conspirators who want to kill him. Riccardo answers this by saying he doesn’t want to see the list, he doesn’t care. He says “I’m the governor of all the people.”

Of course, by this time we’ve already met the conspirators, back in the first scene with the chorus as the parliamentarians. That’s where you meet this little faction that is talking about how they’re going to kill Riccardo.

Then a judge comes in asking Riccardo to sign papers that would exile a fortune teller for, according to him, corrupting the youth. But Oscar intervenes to defend the fortune teller, asking Riccardo not to exile the fortune teller because she brings the people comfort.

This is when Riccardo decides to investigate this fortune teller himself, and he invites the parliamentarians to take off their suits and come to the carnival.

ALO: And now the intrigue begins…

Major:Now we set the second scene, which normally takes place in some remote location… but we set it at a carnival, kind of like a Coney Island setting with the Ferris wheel and those tawdry ring-toss games and fortune teller booths. We see Amelia come to the fortune teller, who also has a reputation for magic, and she says, “I’ve got this ache in my heart that I must get rid of,” and “How do I do that?”

ALO: But there’s always room in an opera for some interpretation, right?

Major: Yes, right. In the various writings about Verdi’s A Masked Ball, there’s a discussion about Ulrica, the fortune teller, and whether her character is a charlatan or an actual seer. But I’ve taken the view that she’s a charlatan – a very astute charlatan. And the description in the text is really interesting because the playwright describes her as being astute enough to know that if Amelia really wants to get rid of Riccardo and that ache in her heart, Amelia will try whatever she tells her. So she gives her this advice to go to this remote place and find this particular herb, and that if she tastes this herb at midnight, she will be over Riccardo.

Well, that’s poppycock of course. But what it really does is test the will of Amelia, and if she truly wants to get rid of that ache, she’ll go.

So Riccardo overhears all this and follows her. Again, in other productions the setting has been different, but we’ve set this scene in a kind of collapsed, overgrown glass nurseries, again all via projections. Renato, who had originally come to warn Riccardo about his assassins, realizes what’s going on and takes Amelia home where he threatens to kill her.

But then he changes his mind. Deciding instead to kill Riccardo and join the conspirators. Riccardo meanwhile is having terrible second thoughts and decides to send Renato and Amelia to England to be the ambassadors.

Finally, in the last scene at the masked ball, Renato shoots Riccardo right in front of Amelia, and he dies.

ALO: Do you think we’ll feel sorrier for Riccardo, Renato or Amelia?

Major: The audience should feel for all of these characters. Nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong. After all, no human being can deny what the heart says. A year later you may not love that person anymore, but at that moment you do. And at that moment you should be treated kindly. None of the characters here can help it. There’s no deliberate collusion, nobody’s saying, “Ha-ha, we’ll fall in love and run away.” They can’t avoid each other. That’s not a bad thing, that is something to be sympathized with.

ALO: What are the some arias or moments that you think will be the most memorable?

Major: A Masked Ball is a funny opera in that there’s this mix of high opera and very funny, very frothy music. For example, there is no froth in Don Carlo… unless you count the Catholic priest. That’s how frothy that opera is.

The Oscar character has two arias that are a great deal of fun. And Amelia has two incredibly gorgeous arias. But the most famous is probably Renato’s “Eri tu che macchiavi quell’anima”, which means “It was you” who caused this, meaning Riccardo.

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ROMEO & JULIET

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Austin Opera’s 2014-15 Season invites you to witness the love struck tragedy of Charles Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet, based on the Shakespeare classic.

The epitome of romance! Join us for this tantalizing production, featuring an ornate set, classical costumes and powerful vocal talents. We open this fateful classic with a masked ball, where Romeo is first taken with Juliet’s beauty. Their love is further affirmed when Romeo famously declares his devotion to Juliet outside her balcony.

But, as the tale goes,  Romeo and Juliet’s quarreling families prevent their love from blossoming. Subsequently, the two star-crossed lovers attempt to defy their feuding families but fail as Romeo takes his life before his seemingly dead beloved only to see her awaken. Distraught, Juliet elects to dramatically join her love in death.

Learn more about Principal Artist Stephen Costello, our Romeo, and his amazing rise to fame in the opera world.

Stage Director, Doug Scholz-Carlson takes you on a journey filled with classically rich furnishings from the Utah Opera,  domineering family alliances and heartrending duets. The Renaissance-era setting, which is reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, will transport you out of The Long Center and deep into the lives of these tragic characters you’ve just met.

The Opera, whose libretto follows the story of Shakespeare’s play,  first debuted in 1867 at Paris’ Théâtre Lyrique and was hailed as a major success. This crowd favorite provides a full range of emotions with moments of intense passion, fierce duels with harrowing catastrophe. Charles Gounod’s five act Romeo & Juliet will leave audiences overcome by beauty, emotion and tragic demise.

Romeo & Juliet will feature the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.

Romeo & Juliet will be sung in French with the English translation projected above the stage, in five acts. There will be two intermissions.

 

Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.

Artists:
Romeo – Stephen Costello
Juliet – Joyce El-Khoury
Friar Laurence- Peter Volpe
Mercutio – Luis Orozco
Stephano – Ellie Jarrett
Capulet – David Small
Gertrude – Cindy Sadler
The Duke – Matthew Trevino
Tybalt – Jason Baldwin
Paris – Greg Jebaily
Benvolio – Brian Joyce
Gregorio – Brett Barnes


 Production Team:

Composer: Charles Gounod | Libretto:  Jule Barbier and Michel Carré | Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Douglas Scholz-Carlson | Chorus Master: Marc Erck | Scenic Designer: Eric Fielding | Costume Designer: Susan Allred | Lighting Designer: Kathryn Eader


More about our Principal Artists:

Stephen Costello

Stephen Costello

Stephen Costello, tenor singing Romeo – The Philadelphia-born tenor quickly established a reputation as a first-class talent after coming to national attention in 2007, when, aged 26, he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Two years later Costello won the prestigious Richard Tucker Award, and he has since appeared at many of the world’s most important opera houses and music festivals, including London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Deutsche Oper Berlin; the Vienna State Opera; and the Salzburg Festival.

Last season Costello made his Washington National Opera debut with a reprise of Greenhorn in Moby-Dick, while the San Francisco Opera’s presentation of the Heggie/Scheer opera, in which the tenor made his house debut, was televised nationwide on PBS’s Great Performances and subsequently released on DVD. Other highlights of 2013-14 included Costello’s Houston Grand Opera debut as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto, in which he proved himself “one of the best lyric tenors in the business”(Theater Jones) and his return to Covent Garden for Alfredo in La Traviata.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Rigoletto, Houston Grand Opera: “Costello, in his Houston Grand Opera debut, was the sensation of the night, starting strong and finishing brilliantly… Costello is a hot item right now, and I understand why.-Theodore Bale, Culturemap Houston

Romeo & Juliet, San Diego Opera: “When Costello holds his gorgeous high notes just a few beats longer without the slightest sense of strain—now that is why folks come to the opera! His eager, athletic singing in the balcony scene—not to mention his erotic edge in the nuptial duet rolling about Juliet’s curtained four-poster—combined with his idiomatic command of the French operatic style make me doubt there is another tenor singing today better suited to this role.  – San Diego Arts

Joyce El-Khoury

Joyce El-Khoury

Joyce El-Khoury, soprano singing Juliet – Recently nominated for an International Opera Award as best “Young Singer”, Joyce El-Khoury is rapidly establishing herself as one of the major singing actresses in the world today. During the 2013-14 season, she made her role debut as Musetta in La Bohème with the Canadian Opera Company, in a production that had her alternating this role with Mimi.

Future engagements include Violetta in La Traviata at Lyric Opera of Kansas, Pauline in Donizetti’s Les Martyrs with Opera Rara in Royal Festival Hall, Mimi in a new production of La Boheme with Dutch National Opera, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus with the Vancouver Opera, Leonora in Il Trovatore with Knoxville Opera, and the title role in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline at Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

Ms. El-Khoury is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. She is a First Prize winner in many competitions including: the Loren L. Zachary Competition, the Opera Index Competition, the George London Foundation, and the Mario Lanza Vocal Competition.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Carmen, Santa Fe Opera: “Joyce El-Khoury lends her rich soprano to Micaëla, Don Jose’s hometown sweetheart, who, despite her peasant garb, may perhaps be too glamorous for a country girl (though no complaint there). Her act three aria, “Je dis que rien ne m’epouvante,” in which she voices her determination to rescue Don Jose despite all obstacles, is a marvel of impassioned, heartfelt singing.” -D.S. Crafts, Albuquerque Journal News

La Triviata, Amesterdam Opera: “Preceded by a lauded reputation, the young Joyce El-Khoury did not disappoint our expectations. The Canadian soprano, taking over the role of Violetta Valéry in May at Amsterdam Opera, is a gorgeous Violetta, with whom we immediately identify, and who fully embraces her character. Her timbre is beautiful, vocal technique already trained, the range is controlled from beginning to end, and she knows how to capture her audience by enveloping them with light or heartbreaking vocal lines, as in the sublime “Addio del passato”, that combine both fear and fragility….it is indisputable that she is one of the major Violettas today.Concerto.net (France)

Peter Volpe

Peter Volpe

Peter Volpe, bass singing Friar Laurent – American bass Peter Volpe is a consummate artist of today’s operatic world whose acclaimed vocal and acting ability captivates audiences and critics across four continents. Mr. Volpe’s inspired style and interpretive skill enlivens his repertoire of more than 100 roles in six languages, including signature roles of Don Giovanni, Mephistopheles, and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin. Of a recent portrayal as Prince Gremin, Opera News wrote that he “managed to create in his single aria and scene an impressive dignity. His full-bodied bass and great candor of tone, together with his intelligent interpretation, won him a well-deserved ovation”

Recent highlights of Mr. Volpe’s career include three broadcasts for the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD series: Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi (with Il tabarro and Suor Angelica), Rossini’s Armida, and Verdi’s La Traviata, the Verdi Requiem at the Chichester Festival in Chichester, England, and the popular French grand opera Les Huguenots in the role of Marcel at the Bard Festival; the first time the opera was staged in America since the Metropolitan Opera’s production 95 years earlier

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Faust, Vancouver Opera: Bass Peter Volpe, proved to be an excellent Mephistopheles, both vocally and dramatically, shining from his first big moment – Le veau d’or est toujours debout – onward. Volpe balanced the demonic and comic elements of his character, and the audience responded to his sardonic wit with outbursts of laughter.” -The Globe & Mail

Don Giovanni, Portland Opera: “Don Giovanni, sung by Peter Volpe, is certainly good company, as well as irresistible to women. He is totally believable and has his technique honed to a fine edge” -Portland Press Herald

David.Small

David Small

David Small, baritone singing Capulet – David Small enjoys an established and continuing career on the operatic and concert stage. Equally comfortable with comedy or drama, his repertoire is richly varied, including performances of well over fifty different operatic roles. Additionally, Mr. Small has been teaching at the University of Texas at Austin for the past fifteen years and was selected by NATS as a Master Teacher in 2011.

In 1991, he debuted his Figaro in Il Barbiere Di Siviglia for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City with great success and subsequently has enjoyed over one hundred performances of the role. He made his Austin Opera debut in this signature role in 1998 and repeated it for ALO in the 2007 season.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Carmina Burana, Meyerson Symphony Center: “Standout of the three vocal soloists was David Small, his baritone pleasantly textured, his declamation vivid…” -The Dallas Morning News

Rigoletto, Sacramento Opera: “The title role calls for acting and singing that can convey the fraught inner dialectic of a man whose venal nature wrestles with the altruism of fatherhood… With his high-lying baritone (Small) connected and channeled the delicate and intimate emotions of fatherhood. Small was effective in selling the father-daughter relationship, especially in the concluding duet of the scene.” -The Sacramento Bee

Brett J. Barnes

Brett J. Barnes

Brett Barnes, baritone signing Gregorio – Austin’s own Brett Barnes returns, bringing his considerable stage experience back to Austin Opera audiences. Mr. Barnes, a local favorite and standout, performs regularly with with Texas Early Music Project, Conspirare and frequently on the Long Center stage with Austin Opera.

 

Synopsis courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera

PROLOGUE. Verona, fourteenth century. A chorus chants of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and of their children, the star-crossed lovers Roméo and Juliette.

ACT I. At a masked ball at the Capulet palace, Juliette’s arrival is eagerly awaited by her cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris. Capulet presents his daughter, the revelers exclaim at her beauty, and Juliette rhapsodizes on her joy. The host leads his guests off just as Roméo, a Montague, and his friends, all masked, steal into the ballroom intent on provoking a fight. Roméo has dreamed the night before, and Mercutio, one of his companions, launches into a song about Queen Mab, the mistress of dreams. Suddenly Roméo sees Juliette at a distance. As she waltzes around the room, singing of the freedom of youth, Roméo shyly approaches her, asking if his hand may touch hers. Tybalt returns just as Juliette tells her name to Roméo, who masks himself and rushes off. Tybalt identifies the intruder as Montague’s son, but Capulet restrains him, ordering the party to continue.

ACT II. Later that night, Roméo hides until Mercutio and other friends stop calling for him. Then he apostrophizes Juliette as the sun, the purest, brightest star. The girl steps forth on her balcony to lament her attraction for an enemy, and Roméo comes forward. The two ecstatically pledge their love but are interrupted by some Capulets searching for a Montague page. Then Roméo and Juliette tenderly bid each other good night.

ACT III. At Friar Laurence’s cell, Roméo appears at daybreak, followed by Juliette and her nurse, Gertrude. The priest agrees to marry the young lovers in the hope that their union will end the feud between their families.

Outside Capulet’s house, Roméo’s page, Stéphano, sings a mocking song, which provokes a fight with Gregorio and other Capulet retainers. Mercutio protects Stéphano and is challenged by Tybalt, who insults Roméo when he tries to make peace. Mercutio duels Tybalt to defend the Montague honor and is slain, whereupon Roméo kills Tybalt. The Duke of Verona stops the bloodshed, banishing Roméo from the city.

ACT IV. At dawn in Juliette’s bedroom, the lovers exchange words of adoration before Roméo reluctantly leaves for exile. Capulet and Friar Laurence greet Juliette with news that she is to wed Paris that very day, but the priest gives her a sleeping potion that will make her appear dead. He promises that she will wake with Roméo beside her. Juliette drinks the potion, and when Capulet and the others arrive to lead her to the church, she collapses.

ACT V. In a gloomy tomb, Roméo soliloquizes on his beloved Juliette, whom he believes dead. In despair he takes poison, only to see Juliette awaken. They hail a new life, but Roméo soon falters. He bids farewell to the frantic girl, who grasps his dagger and stabs herself. The lovers die praying for God’s forgiveness.

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DON GIOVANNI

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Austin Opera culminates its 2014-15 Season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s critically acclaimed dark comedy, Don Giovanni.

Join us for this incredible production featuring powerful vocals, the captivating virtuoso of Mozart, and a unique set where seduction, entertainment and danger collide. Don Giovanni is both charismatic and repulsive in his cavalier manipulations of others. But Don Giovanni, with all his arrogance, promiscuity and cunning, is finally undone by a vengeful victim incapable of outwit or defeat. This masterpiece, deemed “the greatest opera ever written” by George Bernard Shaw, brings justice to an outlandishly lecherous and wild man.

Watch this highlights reel from a recent production by the Metropolitan Opera.

Stage director Rebecca Herman and the scenic designs of Kimm Kovac, of the Pittsburgh Opera, place Don Giovanni in a bull fighting ring where performance, danger and death shine. This nontraditional setting will transport you out of The Long Center and deep into the lives of these classic characters you’ve just met. That’s the magic of opera, after all.

Based on the legendary Lothario, Don Juan, Don Giovanni was first performed in 1787 at the Teatro di Praga in Prague to rave reviews. This complex character, with his many faults, keeps audiences engrossed and rooting for his success. But by the end of two acts, you are left satisfied as Don Giovanni is brought to justice.

Don Giovanni will feature the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.

Don Giovanni will be sung in Italian with the English translation projected above the stage, in two acts. An intermission will occur after Act 1.

 

Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.

Artists:

Don Giovanni – Morgan Smith

Donna Anna – Danielle Pastin

Donna Elvira – Karin Wolverton

Don Ottavio – Jason Slayden

Leporello – Matthew Burns

Zerlina – Karin Mushegian

Il Commendatore – Gustav Andreassen


Production Team: 

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto:  Lorenzo da Ponte | Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Rebecca Herman | Chorus Master: Marc Erck | Scenic Designer: Kimm Kovac | Lighting Designer: James Sale


More about our Principal Artists:

morgan smith

Morgan Smith

Morgan Smith, baritone singing Giovanni – Morgan Smith closes ALO’s 28th season by singing the role of Giovanni in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Recent successes include his return to San Francisco Opera for the role of Starbuck in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, a role he inaugurated for the world premiere at Dallas Opera and later sang at San Diego Opera.

Morgan Smith made his European debut in the 2009-2010 Season at Berlin Staatsoper as Marcello, and at Oper Leipzig as Rossini’s Figaro, Papageno,Marcello, Leandre The Love for Three Oranges and Whitelaw Savory One Touch of Venus.

Mr. Smith reprises the role of Giovanni with the Austin Opera, having previously portrayed him in the 2011 Seattle Opera production to critical acclaim.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Starbuck, San Francisco Opera: “Morgan Smith was simply terrific as the first mate, Starbuck. Dubious about his increasingly unhinged captain’s obsession with the white whale and looking out for the crew’s interests, Smith brought dramatic authority to the conflicted Christian first mate and sang with a burnished baritone and stern power while also bringing a nostalgic yearning to his moments of homesickness for his wife and family.” – Lawrence A. Johnson, Classical Music Review

Don Giovanni, Seattle Opera: “Baritone Morgan Smith gave an electrifying performance as Don Giovanni, radiating saturnine power, dark magnetism and cruel charm. His ample, cognac-smooth voice has just enough snarl to give it bite. This young singer already inhabits the role the way James Bond fills a tux.” – Jack Frymire, The Bellingham Hearld

Danielle Pastin

Danielle Pastin

Danielle Pastin, soprano singing Donna Anna – Quoted as having “a lovely demeanor and irresistible creamy timbre” by Opera News, fast-rising young American soprano Danielle Pastin is quickly gaining attention from opera houses around the country. She made her main stage Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011 singing Masha and covering Chloë in The Queen of Spades and has been invited back several times since, covering the role of Javotte in a new production of Massenet’s Manon, covering Samaritana in Francesca da Rimini and most recently singing Frasquita in Carmen, a role she also performs this coming season in her debut with the Dallas Opera.

She recently triumphed in her Santa Fe Opera debut, stepping in as Mimì in La bohème under the direction of Maestro Leo Vordoni on just a few hours’ notice and subsequently received their Judith Raskin Memorial Award for Singers.

In November of 2011, Danielle was named a Sullivan Foundation Award winner and in April of 2012 she won Second Place in The Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Louise, Pittsburgh Opera: “Soprano Danielle Pastin, who had a lead in last year’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” chose the exquisite “Depuis le jour,” from Charpentier’s “Louise,” showing off her opulent timbre and shimmering high notes here and also in an aria from Puccini’s “La Rondine. Hers is one of most beautiful voices to be heard in Pittsburgh in recent years.” – Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Pastin often ends her phrases with beautiful tapers that make it very difficult to identify where her voice ends and silence begins.”– The Tartan, Carngie Mellon

Matthew Burns

Matthew Burns

Matthew Burns, bass-baritone singing Leporello – Declared as “having a beautiful bass-baritone voice” by the New York Times, Matthew Burns is a dynamic performer known for his unique portrayals of opera’s most acclaimed bass-baritone roles spanning the repertoire from dramatic roles to buffo roles, and everything in between.  This season, Mr. Burns also performs the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera Memphis. He will also appear as Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Fargo Moorehead Opera, he will perform in Wuthering Heights at Florentine Opera, and sing Rambaldo in La roudine at Opera Theatre Saint Louis. In concert, he’ll sing the baritone solo in Händel’s Messiah with Rhode Island Philharmonic and appear in American Opera Projects’ Composers & The Voice series.

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Le nozze di Figaro, Virginia Opera: “Matthew Burns’ Figaro retains the former barber’s sunny character and adaptable wit, lightening even the heaviest scenes he blunders into…. Better yet, Mr. Burns’ flexible bass-baritone seems to wrap itself deftly around the mood of each scene as he alternates moments of great vocal bravado to mocking bars of falsetto when he’s joking about one of the female character’s latest moves.” -Washington Times

Don Giovanni, Opera Cleveland: “Matthew Burns’ cavernous voice and droll earthiness are ideal for Leporello’s nimble shenanigans.” -Cleveland Plain Dealer

Synopsis courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera
Act 1
Leporello, servant to the nobleman Don Giovanni, keeps watch outside the Commendatore’s home at night. Suddenly, the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna, rushes out, struggling with the masked Giovanni and followed by her father. The Commendatore challenges Giovanni to a duel and is killed. Giovanni and Leporello escape. Anna asks her fiancé, Don Ottavio, to avenge her father’s death.

In the morning, Giovanni and Leporello encounter one of Giovanni’s former conquests, Donna Elvira, who is devastated by his betrayal. Leporello tells her she is neither the first nor the last woman to fall victim to Giovanni and shows her his catalogue with the name of every woman Giovanni has seduced.

Peasants celebrate the marriage of Masetto and Zerlina. Giovanni flirts with the bride, telling her she is destined for a better life. But Elvira tells Zerlina to flee her suitor. She also warns Anna, who is still unaware of the identity of her father’s murderer and has asked Giovanni for help in finding the man. Giovanni, for his part, insists that Elvira is mad, and Anna and Ottavio wonder what to believe. As Giovanni leaves, Anna suddenly recognizes his voice as that of the murderer. Devastated but determined, she once more asks Ottavio to avenge her. He wonders how to restore her peace of mind. Giovanni, who has invited the entire wedding party to his palace, looks forward to an evening of drinking and dancing.

Outside Giovanni’s home, Zerlina asks Masetto to forgive her. Giovanni enters and leads them both inside. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio appear masked and are invited in by Leporello. In the ballroom, Giovanni dances with Zerlina, then tries to drag her into the adjoining room. When she cries for help, Giovanni blames Leporello. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio take off their masks and, along with Zerlina and Masetto, accuse Giovanni, who is momentarily surprised but manages to slip away.

Act II
Having exchanged clothes with Giovanni, Leporello takes Elvira on a night-time walk, leaving his master free to serenade her maid. When Masetto arrives with a band of peasants to hunt down Giovanni, the disguised Don sends them off in various directions, then beats up Masetto. Zerlina finds her bruised fiancé and comforts him.

Later that night, Leporello—still believed by Elvira to be Giovanni—is surprised by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, and Masetto, who all denounce the supposed Don. Fearing for his life, Leporello reveals his true identity before making his escape. Ottavio proclaims that he will take revenge on Giovanni and asks the others to look after Anna. Elvira thinks about Giovanni, whom she still loves in spite of everything.

In a cemetery, Giovanni and Leporello meet the statue of the Commendatore, who warns Giovanni that by morning he will laugh no longer. Giovanni forces the terrified Leporello to invite the statue to dinner. The statue accepts.

Once again, Ottavio asks Anna to marry him, but she replies that she will not until her father’s death has been avenged.

Elvira arrives at Giovanni’s palace and makes a last desperate attempt to persuade him to change his life, but he only laughs at her. The figure of the Commendatore enters and asks Giovanni to repent. When he boldly refuses he is consumed by flames. Elvira, Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, Masetto, and Leporello appear, contemplating their futures and the fate of an immoral man.

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Summer Arias: AUG 3 at Umlauf Family Days

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Our Summer Arias continue! Join us for a series of solo and duet performances at Austin festivals, family days and more.

ALO Summer Arias
Umlauf Family Day
Sunday, August 3
2:00 – 2:30 pm

FREE!

More information about Umlauf Family Day here

Come hear soprano Natalie Cummings and Baritone Brett Barnes sing selections from A Masked Ball, Don Giovanni and more, accompanied by Nyle Matsuoka.

Natalie Cummings

Natalie Cummings

Brett J. Barnes

Brett J. Barnes

Cummings has been a Houston District winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for two consecutive years. She’s been heralded for her  “lush, full-bodied and beautiful tone,” and has sung on stages across the country.

Barnes is an Austin favorite, performing with Texas Early Music Project, Conspirare and frequently on the Long Center stage with Austin Lyric Opera. In fact, Barnes will perform in ALO’s January production of  Romeo & Juliet.

Come for the opera, stay for the gorgeous setting of Umlauf, and bring the whole family!

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Summer Arias: JULY 13 at Umlauf Family Day

Summer Arias header image

Join us for the first of our Summer Arias, a series of solo and duet performances at Austin festivals, family days and more.

ALO Summer Arias
Umlauf Family Day
Sunday, July 13
2:00 – 2:30 pm

FREE!

More information about Umlauf Family Day here

Come here soprano Sara Ann Mitchell and baritone  Gregory Jebaily sing selections from A Masked Ball, Don Giovanni and more, accompanied by Nyle Matsuoka.

Sara Ann Mitchell

Sara Ann Mitchell

Gregory Jebaily

Gregory Jebaily

Mitchell and Jebaily are among the top opera performers based here in Austin, and both have sung on the Long Center stage as principals and in the chorus. Most recently, you heard and enjoyed Mitchell as Gianetta, the lovely friend of Adina in The Elixir of Love this past May.

Come for the opera, stay for the gorgeous setting of Umlauf, and bring the whole family!

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The New Classico

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The Elixir Projects Presents The New Classico
Discover the Opera in Unexpected Places

Experience drama, comedy, passion y más in a modish setting. Join us for The New Classico, an on-the-go opera experience that is turning heads with food, family-friendly activities and entertainment.

#NEWCLASSICO

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Mexican-American Cultural Center
600 River St, Austin, TX 78701
RSVPs requested on Facebook

 

Mil gracias to The New Classico Leaders:

Erica and Victor Saenz
Celeste and Adrian Quesada
Claudia Yumi Coronado and Thomas Miranda
Marisa Limón and Alberto Jimenez
Ruth and Greg Hughs
Enrique Romo, Ph.D.
Laura Merritt and John Philip (JP) Kloninger
Fely Garcia & Rick Amador
Linda Medina and Joe Lopez

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Opera On The Town – The Elixir of Love

Ann richards Elixir Project PerformanceOne of the world’s most frequently performed operas, The Elixir of Love is cherished for its whimsical wit and endearing characters, not to mention the many intoxicating duets and “Una furtiva lagrima,” one of the most hauntingly beautiful of all tenor arias.

Join us for this insight into The Elixir of Love and learn more about Gaetano Donizetti, who also composed the beloved yet darker Lucia di Lammermoor. Austin Lyric Opera continues to expand its partnership with the University of Texas this year, as Bethany McLemore and Matthew Bell, doctoral students from the Butler School of Music, will lead our discussion.

Plus: Enjoy a performance of The Elixir Project, our fun, free community-wide opera production, based on The Elixir of Love. You won’t want to miss this one!

Bring a friend and enjoy a night of food, fun and enlightening presentations!

OPERA ON THE TOWN
A community education program of Austin Lyric Opera

WHEN:
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

WHERE:
Chez Zee Restaurant
5406 Balcones Drive

TIME:
6:30 p.m. Appetizers and Cash Bar
7:00 p.m. Presentation

COST:
$20

RSVP: Call Patron Services 512-610-7684 or email Dianne VanHulle dvanhulle@austinlyricopera.org

***

Still need tickets for The Elixir of Love, May 1-4? It’s not too early to get great seats. Tickets start at just $24.

 

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Amplify Opera!

It’s time to AMPLIFY OPERA!

Everybody knows we never use microphones in opera, but on March 20 we’re going to AMPLIFY OPERA and crank up the giving!

Amplify Austin is a citywide, online giving event. Last year’s event raised almost $2.8 million for hundreds of local charities. This year the goal is $4 million! And you can help us meet it!

Austin Lyric Opera would not exist without the generosity of donors just like you. Your donations help us produce world-class, main stage operas and also fund our education and community outreach programs like Opera Treasure Chest and The Elixir Project. Every donation you make goes towards ensuring that opera lives on in Central Texas. Thank you!

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WIN A VIP OPERA EXPERIENCE!

All AMPLIFY OPERA donors who give $25 or more will be entered to win a VIP OPERA EXPERIENCE, including…

Opening Night Box Seats to The Elixir of Love, May 1 at 7:30 p.m. | Complimentary Parking
Invitation for Drinks in the VIP Lounge at Intermission

 Just make your online donation to the Austin Lyric Opera’s Amplify Austin webpage between March 20 at 6 p.m. – March 21 at 6 p.m. See Rules and Details below.

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WHY GIVE TO AUSTIN LYRIC OPERA?

GRAND OPERA
Nine full-scale performance of grand opera at The Long Center.
BEAUTIFUL MUSIC
A world-class conductor leading the ALO orchestra and chorus and internationally acclaimed principal artists.
THE ELIXIR PROJECT
A free spring opera festival performed for families and the community.
ALO EDUCATION OUTREACH
Programming for students and adults to enrich their knowledge of classical music and opera

AND MORE! THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS GIFT!

 
*To enter, you must donate to the Austin Lyric Opera online via the Amplify Austin website between 6 p.m. March 20 and 6 p.m. March 21, or you must have scheduled a donation for that time. Only donations of $25 or more are eligible to enter. Tickets are limited to box seats for the May 1, 2014, performance of The Elixir of Love. Offer cannot be combined with any other special offers, promotions, or coupons. May not be applied towards previous purchases. Tickets, parking voucher and VIP Lounge pass are non-transferable. Winner will be announced at least one week prior to the performance.

 

 

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