Kostis Protopapas, Artistic Director
Rossini’s The Barber of Seville is opera’s perfect comedy. Just the overture alone is enough to bring a smile to every face. As soon as the curtain rises, we are introduced to a gallery of delightful characters, some charming, some exuberant and some, well… grumpy. All of them have great tunes to sing, in Rossini’s florid bel canto style, and they throw themselves into a romp of trickery, disguise, intrigue and misunderstandings. At the end, young love and good spirits triumph and the grumpy reluctantly acquiesce.
Dead Man Walking is the most successful American opera of the last ten years. It is based on the autobiographical bestseller by Sister Helen Prejean, which also inspired the award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. It is the true story of a nun – Sister Helen herself- who becomes the spiritual advisor of a convicted murderer on death-row in 1980’s Louisiana. It is a quintessentially American story, told by composer Jake Heggie in a characteristically American musical idiom. It is both accessible and stirring. The opera takes us on a musical journey through complicated emotional and moral issues, and delivers a punch that lingers for days.
The season’s last opera, by that great musical puppeteer of the heartstrings, Puccini, unfolds a heartbreaking story, set to luscious romantic music against the backdrop of exotic 19th century Japan. A beautiful young geisha, Cio-Cio-San, falls in love with a dashing American naval officer, who marries her before leaving to return to America. She spends three years awaiting his return, only to find out that her hope was in vain. He returns married to another woman. It is one of Puccini’s most opulent scores, where full-throated melodies are spread
against a luxurious orchestral fabric, accented by exotic percussion sounds and authentic Japanese tunes.