Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Casting Announced for Second Fully-Staged Merola Production

Last week the Merola Opera Program announced the casting for the three one-act operas that will be performed as the first full-length fully-staged production of the 60th anniversary season. The second production of the season will be devoted entirely to Gioachino Rossini’s two-act opera La Cenerentola. The title is the Italian rendering of the name “Cinderella;” and Jacopo Ferretti used Charles Perrault “Cendrillon” (the “original source” of the fairy tale we know) as his point of departure.

Ferretti modified Perrault’s source in a variety of interesting ways, some of which may have involved the vocal resources that Rossini preferred. For one thing, there are no named characters in the Perrault text, except for the nickname of the title character. Ferretti gave her a real name, Angelina. The part was originally sung by contralto Geltrude Righetti and will be sung in the Merola production by mezzo Samantha Hankey (a winner of this year’s Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions):

Samantha Hankey, courtesy of the Merola Opera Program

Similarly, the Prince is given the name Ramiro; and he will be sung by tenor Anthony Ciaramitaro. The stepsisters are endowed with the “faux classical” names Clorinda (soprano Natalie Image) and Tisbe (mezzo Edith Grossman). In a more radical alteration, their mother becomes the fatuous and greedy Don Magnifico (bass-baritone Andrew Hiers). Most importantly, however, is that magic plays no part in the unfolding of the plot. Angelina’s virtuous behavior is rewarded by the machinations of the philosopher Alidoro (bass-baritone Szymon Wach), who is also Ramiro’s tutor. Finally, there are some mistaken identity high jinks involving Dandini, the Prince’s valet (bass-baritone Christian Pursell). Those who might be wondering about why Angelina should have such a low voice should bear in mind that Righetti had already created the role of Rosina in The Barber of Seville.

This production will be staged by Chuck Hudson, who has worked in both opera and theater and was a co-creator of Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program. The conductor will be Mark Morash, who has given many past Merola performances and is Director of Musical Studies for the San Francisco Opera Center. This production will be given two performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 3, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 5.

These performances will take place in the Concert Hall of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station. Ticket prices will be $70 and $50. Tickets are being sold by the Box Office in the outer lobby of the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Avenue, on the northwest corner of Grove Street. The Box Office may also be reached by telephoning 415-864-3330. The Box Office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Tickets for both performances are also available online. There will also be student tickets available for $15, but these must be purchased in person at the Box Office upon presentation of valid identification.

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