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Opera Preview – Don Giovanni

6:30PM, Wednesday, April 8, 2015
RSVP: Contact Patron Services Manager, Dianne Van Hulle at 512-610-7684 or dvanhulle@AustinOpera.org

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You’re invited to experience an exclusive Opera Preview for Don Giovanni!

Please join us for an informative discussion exploring Mozart’s greatest opera, Don Giovanni, with the Director of the Butler Opera Center, Dr. Robert DeSimone. These lively events give attendees the opportunity to learn about the upcoming opera while mingling with other opera enthusiasts. Austin Opera is committed to fostering a deeper connection with the community through programs that entertain as they educate.

Dr. Robert DeSimone combines an active career as Stage Director, Pianist, Coach, and Administrator. Originally a pianist, he received his musical education in Switzerland, Italy, University of Southern California, Manhattan School of Music, and Music Academy of the West. He studied piano with Emanuel Bay, Paul Stoye and John Crown. A protégé of Nora Quarrie, Sadler Wells Theatre in London, he spent four years training in the tradition of England’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. His opera studies include work with stage directors Hans Zimmerman, Herbert Graf, coach/conductor Luigi Ricci, Sergius Kagen and Hans Willi-Hausselein.

He has worked with major theatres in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Mexico, Brazil, and Panama.  His work has been seen at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Los Angeles Music Center, Lincoln Center and opera companies throughout the States.

Arts administration posts include: Administrative Director- Music Center Opera Association Los Angeles, Director-City of the Angels Opera, Executive Director- Visual Arts Center of Alaska, Co-Director-Academia Vocale di Lucca in Italy, Artistic Director- Opera Panama.

A recipient of awards from the Adolph’s Foundation, National Thespian Society, Italian Government, National Association of Piano Teachers, Austin Circle of Theatres, he received  special commendation from the National Association of  Teachers of Singing for his work in contemporary opera. Host for the cablevision series “Encore”.  He is an active lecturer and presents  Master Classes in Opera.

Dr. DeSimone is Director of the Sarah and Ernest Butler Opera Center and Associate Director for External Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Cocktail Reception at 6:30 pm
Lecture begins at 7:00 pm

Chez Zee American Bistro
5406 Balcones Dr.
Austin, Texas 78731
Click HERE for a map

Opera Previews are $20 a person

For tickets, please contact Dianne Van Hulle, Patron Services Manager, at 512.610.7684 or at dvanhulle@AustinOpera.org

For information about additional Austin Opera educational and community outreach programs visit our Education & Community Program Page or Contact Erin Horan, Education & Administrative Coordinator, at 512.610.7689 or at ehoran@AustinOpera.org
Still need tickets for Don Giovanni, April 25, 30, and May 3?
It’s not too late to get great seats. Tickets start at just $24, with student tickets at $15.

 

An Intimate Affair

7:30PM, Monday, April 13, 2015

Austin Opera is thrilled to partner with KLRU to present an unforgettable night of opera and modern classics on April 13, 2015. This extraordinary evening will feature David Miller, starring tenor of the 26-time platinum selling opera crossover group Il Divo, singing alongside his multi-talented wife, Sarah Joy Miller, star of New York City Opera’s Anna Nicole, based on the life of Anna Nicole Smith. David and Sarah Joy Miller will be joined on stage by pianist Audrey Saint-Gil, assistant conductor of Los Angeles Opera.

The program will feature music from West Side StoryLa BohèmeLes MisérablesFaustMy Fair LadyThe Music Man, among others.

Studio 6A, an Austin landmark known for housing the illustrious Austin City Limits television program from 1976-2010, will serve as the perfect backdrop for this special event.

Tickets start at $75. There are a limited number of premium $250 tickets available which include complimentary valet and an opportunity to attend an exclusive after-party with the artists. Seating will be based on a first-come, first-served basis.

For additional information, please contact Brittney Snyder, Director of Development at Austin Opera at bsnyder@austinopera.org or by phone at 512.610.7672.


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Romeo & Juliet – La Noche de Opera Reception

7:00PM, Friday, January 23, 2015
Noche-R&J

Please join us for a La Noche de Opera Reception for Austin Opera’s ROMEO & JULIET

Friday, January 23, 2015 
7-9 pm

Featuring:
Julia Taylor, soprano
Nyle Matsuoka, piano

La Noche members free/Guests $20

For more information, including the location of this event, please contact noche@austinopera.org

Join La Noche or Renew your membership here

RSVP to Erin Horan at ehoran@austinopera.org

 

Wine generously provided by:

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Opera Preview – Romeo & Juliet

6:30PM, Wednesday, January 7, 2015
RSVP: Contact Patron Services Manager, Dianne Van Hulle at 512-610-7684 or dvanhulle@AustinOpera.org
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You’re invited to experience an exclusive Opera Preview for Romeo & Juliet!

Austin Opera is committed to fostering a deeper connection with our community through programs that entertain as they educate. Please join us for a fun, informative discussion of Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet featuring Ann Ciccolella, Artistic Director of Austin Shakespeare and Richard Buckley, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor of Austin Opera.

This lively discussion about Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet will explore the adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays to the opera stage. Dramatic and musical performances from both companies will spark your imagination and deepen your enjoyment of this classic tale.

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Cocktail Reception at 6:30 pm
Lecture begins at 7:00 pm

Chez Zee American Bistro
5406 Balcones Dr.
Austin, Texas 78731
Click HERE for a map

Opera Previews are $20 a person

For tickets, please contact Dianne Van Hulle, Patron Services Manager, at 512.610.7684 or at dvanhulle@AustinOpera.org

Save the Dates:

After this event, there is only one more Opera Preview date for the 2014-15 season. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!

Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Opera Preview – Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For information about additional Austin Opera educational and community outreach programs visit our Education & Community Program Page or Contact Erin Horan, Education & Administrative Coordinator, at 512.610.7689 or at ehoran@AustinOpera.org
Still need tickets for Romeo & Juliet, January 24, 29, & February 1? It’s not too late to get great seats. Tickets start at just $24, with student tickets at $15.

2015 Serenata Wine Dinner & Auction

6:00PM, Saturday, February 21, 2015
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The 2015 Serenata Wine Dinner & Auction, hosted by the Austin Opera Guild, was held on Saturday, February 21, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Sponsors enjoyed a private reception prior to event at the beautiful Four Seasons Residence of Sandra & Walter Wilkie. Twin Liquors provided exquisite wines to pair with the four-course gourmet dinner by TRIO Executive Chef Elmar Prambs. Internationally-renowned mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson rocked the house, taking to the dance floor with underwriting sponsor Chris Cheever. Auctioneer Harvey Kronberg kept the Live Auction going strong. Attendees danced the night away to the musical stylings of Reunion (a multi-piece band featuring Austin Opera Trustee, Stephen Jeffrey, as one of its band members).

This highly-anticipated annual fundraising event successfully raised $285,000 in support of Austin Opera and it’s operatic performances and educational programs that meet and preserve the highest standards of artistic excellence that culturally enrich the lives of Texans.

THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING FOR THEIR GENEROSITY:

Underwriting Sponsor
Christopher H. Cheever

Premier Table Sponsors
Amelia Bullock & Bill Krumpack – Eva & Marvin Womack
Wendi & Brian Kushner
Marcy & John Melanson
Cornelia & John Wood

Premium Table Sponsors
Polly & Steve Barbaro

Prime Table Sponsors
Lindsay Blumenthal & Steve Kuhn
Patty & Mike Erspamer

THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING FOR CREATING SUCH A WONDERFUL & SUCCESSFUL EVENT:

2015 Serenata Wine Dinner & Auction Co-Chairs
Cornelia Wood & Diane Ingram

2015 Serenata Live Auction Chair
Carol Logan

2015 Serenata Silent Auction Co-Chairs
Colleen Halbrook & Susan Thompson

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For information on the 2016 Serenata Wine Dinner & Auction, please contact Angie Bonnici at 512.610.7668.

 

Season Opening Night Dinner for Verdi’s “A Masked Ball”

5:30PM, Saturday, November 8, 2014
Black Tie; presented by Austin Opera Guild
5:30PM, Saturday, November 8, 2014
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Begin the evening on our red carpet reception. Enter the glass-walled Kodosky lounge overlooking Austin, enchantingly transformed in the opera’s theme to set the stage for your enjoyment. Sit down to a sumptuous dinner with wine. Enjoy your evening of glamour designed to heighten your opera experience with friends. Or come on your own and make new friends who share your passion for music and drama. After the performance, return to meet the artists with more wine and dessert. Generously sponsored by Twin Liquors.

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Austin Opera at the Texas Book Festival

10:00AM, Saturday, October 25, 2014
11:00AM, Sunday, October 26, 2014

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

6:30PM, Wednesday, October 22, 2014
RSVP: Contact Patron Services Manager, Dainne Van Hulle at 512-610-7684 or dvanhulle@AustinOpera.org

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.

A MASKED BALL

7:30PM, Saturday, November 8, 2014
7:30PM, Thursday, November 13, 2014
3:00PM, Sunday, November 16, 2014

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 – Michael Chioldi

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:

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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

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Michael Chioldi, baritone singing Renato – American baritone Michael Chioldi is quickly gaining the reputation as one of the most sought-after dramatic baritones of his generation. Praised for his “warm, rich tone” (Opera News) and “deeply communicative phrasing” (The Baltimore Sun), he has received unanimous acclaim from critics and audiences around the world for his portrayals of the dramatic baritone roles of Verdi, Puccini, and Strauss. His recent role debuts include the title roles in Verdi’s Macbeth with Palm Beach Opera and Nabucco with Lyric Opera Baltimore; Conte di Luna in Il Trovatore with Utah Opera; and Rodrigo in Don Carlo with Austin Lyric Opera.

CRITICAL ACCLAIM:

Nabucco, Lyric Opera Baltimore: “In the title role, Michael Chioldi offered stellar singing, an exceptionally warm, solid tone, and deeply communicative phrasing that got to the heart of Nabucco’s heaven-defying vanity at the opera’s start, his subsequent madness and spiritual awakening.” -— Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

MacBeth, Palm Beach Opera: “As Macbeth, the American baritone Michael Chioldi, returning to West Palm Beach for the fifth time in 10 years, gave a compelling, intense performance. His voice has darkened in recent years, and that added heft and seriousness to his portrayal, which was a debut role for him this past weekend.” -Greg Stepanich, Palm Beach Arts Paper

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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

7:30PM, Saturday, January 24, 2015
7:30PM, Thursday, January 29, 2015
3:00PM, Sunday, February 1, 2015
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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 in Romeo and Juliet

 

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 in Romeo and Juliet

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 in Romeo and Juliet

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

Small.David

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

BrettBarnes-HeadShot-10

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 Romeo & Juliet stage director, Douglas Scholz-Carlson.

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

ACT I
At a masked ball at the Capulet palace, Juliet’s arrival is eagerly awaited by her cousin Tybalt and her suitor Paris. Capulet presents his daughter, the revelers exclaim at her beauty, and Juliet rhapsodizes on her joy. The host leads his guests off just as Romeo, a Montague, and his friends, all masked, steal into the ballroom. Romeo, in love with a girl named Rosaline, is reluctant to come to the ball. His friend, Mercutio, encourages Romeo to look at other beauties by launching into a song about Queen Mab, the mistress of dreams. Suddenly Romeo sees Juliet. As she sings of the freedom of youth, Romeo shyly approaches her, asking if his hand may touch hers. Tybalt returns just as Juliet tells her name to Romeo, 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, Romeo hides until Mercutio and other friends stop calling for him. Then he apostrophizes Juliet as the sun, the purest, brightest star. The girl steps forth on her balcony to lament her attraction for an enemy, and Romeo comes forward. The two ecstatically pledge their love but are interrupted by some Capulets searching for a Montague page. Then Romeo and Juliet tenderly bid each other good night.

20 MINUTE INTERMISSIONS

ACT III
At Friar Laurence’s cell, Romeo appears at daybreak, followed by Juliet 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. Thinking his master, Romeo, is trapped in the Capulet’s house, Romeo’s page, Stephano, sings a mocking song to provoke the Capulet’s to come out and allow Romeo to escape. Gregorio and other Capulet retainers attack Stephano. Mercutio protects him and is challenged by Tybalt. Romeo tries to make peace, but Tybalt insults him. Mercutio duels Tybalt and is slain, whereupon Romeo kills Tybalt. The Duke of Verona stops the bloodshed, banishing Romeo from Verona.

15 MINUTE INTERMISSIONS

ACT IV
At dawn in Juliet’s bedroom, the lovers exchange words of adoration before Romeo reluctantly leaves for exile. Capulet and Friar Laurence greet Juliet 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 Romeo beside her.

ACT V
Romeo gets word that Juliet is dead. He returns to her tomb in Verona. In despair he takes
poison, only to see Juliet awaken. They hail a new life, but Romeo 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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