Giuseppe Verdi’s immensely popular opera, a classic and touching tale of love and sacrifice between a beautiful courtesan and her young lover from a respectable provincial family. This production will evoke the world of 19th century Paris in all of its grandeur.
by Ruth and James de Blasis
After an intense siege of tuberculosis which prevented Violetta Valery from any social activity she is giving her first intimate soiree. Because she was unable to have visitors while she was ill, her friends are quite eager to see her. Flora, a friendly rival, and her escort the Marquis d’Obigny cannot help but notice, however, that the Baron Duphol, Violetta’s current lover, is very uncomfortable. The Baron takes special note when Gastone, Violetta’s very good friend, introduces Alfredo Germont, the unknown admirer who sent flowers and bon-bons to her during her illness. Having not known the young man previously, Violetta graciously greets him, then charmingly mingles and invites all to celebrate the evening with champagne. Alfredo is unanimously nominated to make the toast.
The romantic youth sings a tribute to love - actually meaning Violetta, who answers that love is like a flower that ultimately fades.
An orchestra is heard in an adjoining room which prompts Violetta to invite everyone to dance. The hostess has a sudden pain and excuses herself, but her friend and confidante, Annina recognizes Violetta has had a slight spasm. Annina rushes to her aid, with a shawl and medication. Violetta knows her color has drained, but sees Alfredo, who has not joined the other guests. Nonchalantly Violetta dismisses her attack while Alfredo declares his sincere desire to take care of her, his longing admiration and his love. She pleads that she can only offer her friendship in return and asks that he speak no longer of his love. Rebuked, he starts to leave, but she beckons him to wait. Affected by his sincerity, Violetta offers him a camellia and asks that he return when it has faded.
As dawn approaches, the drunk and giddy party-goers depart. Alone, she ponders her life, her freedom, and this new attraction for a young man. But she resolves to continue to be free and carefree…until she recalls his voice and his vow of unending love.
Act II, scene 1
Three months have passed since Alfredo and Violetta left the mad-cap life of Paris for a country house, just outside the city. She has offered him deep love, and he has given her the only true happiness she has known. Under his daily care, she has gained strength, and he, great joy. But this idyllic existence is interrupted when Alfredo learns from Annina that Violetta has been selling her jewels and other possessions to meet their expenses. He leaves immediately for Paris to seek financial aid of his own. Alfredo consequently misses the unexpected arrival of his father.
Giorgio Germont’s distress over his son’s liaison with Violetta has prompted his coming. His harshness toward Violetta, in persisting that she leaves Alfredo, turns to tenderness as he realizes the depth and honesty of her love. Knowing that she does not have long to live and desiring to insure Alfredo’s future, Violetta makes the sacrifice.
In deciding to return to Paris, she sends a white camellia to the Baron and then fighting her broken heart, she begins writing a farewell to Alfredo.
When Alfredo returns, Violetta emotionally bids him a loving goodbye, which he does not understand until a servant brings him her letter. He is shocked and overwhelmed that she deserted him. His father reappears and tries to console him by appealing that he return home. When Alfredo discovers the invitation from Flora, he then realizes Violetta is returning to her former life and vows to have his revenge.
Act II, scene 2
During a very colorful masquerade, Violetta’s “friends” gossip about her abandonment of Alfredo and her return to the Baron. Having heard the rumors about himself, Alfredo, to the astonishment of them all, appears. Moments later Violetta reluctantly enters with the Baron who, upon seeing Alfredo, threatens her and forces her to remain.
Tension rises as the Baron tries to outdo Alfredo at cards, but the brash young man’s luck continues and it is only the announcement of supper that delays an impending confrontation. As soon as the two men depart Violetta sends Gastone to bring Alfredo to her.
Sensing that Alfredo will stop at nothing, she begs him to leave because of the Baron’s jealous wrath. Alfredo is hell-bent to win her back and pressures her to admit that the “someone”, who had the right; and forced her to return was Baron Duphol and that she loves him. At her wits end, she lies and says “Yes, I love him!” Hurt and enraged he calls back the guests and defiantly throws his winnings at the feet in payment to a woman of her kind.
Amid general indignation the elder Germont appears and publicly denounces his son’s conduct toward a “lady”. The music weaves the texture of Violetta’s love, Alfredo’s remorse and Germont’s secret. When it seems, for one brief instant, that the lovers might reconcile, the Baron suddenly slaps Alfredo with his glove, signifying an upcoming duel. Violetta, completely overwhelmed, swoons.
Now in the final throes of the disease, as so often happened in its later stages, Violetta is trapped in a “half world” - a world torturing and tormenting her – as she suffers through periods of deep delirium and then lucidity. It is an ambiguous “someplace” where she is unable to distinguish reality from the people and incidents trapped inside her fevered delirium. Violetta drowns in a deep morass of fleeting images; which confuse her troubled mind and sap the little strength remaining in her exhausted body.
Is what she has re-lived, in her tortured mind these last few months, real? Is what’s around her this very moment, real? She struggles, but cannot swim through the blur and fog in which she is submerged.
An instrumental prelude is dominated by reminiscent melodies and themes reflecting what Violetta has been re-living.
Thus we discover the forsaken and destitute Violetta with her beloved Annina. Annina brings her a sip
of water, then lets in a little light and sees the Doctor on his way. When he enters he brings more medicine, reassuring Violetta that she will soon be well again; but to Annina confides that the end may be only a few hours away.
Violetta does not know what time or day it is. Annina tells her it is Carnival Time; that all Paris has gone mad. Violetta sends her companion to give half her money to the poor, who also suffer, and to bring any mail that may have come.
Alone, Violetta unfolds a crumpled letter, which she knows by heart. It is from Giorgio Germont who writes that ‘Alfredo knows everything, that he is on his way to seek her forgiveness, and sends hope that she will soon be well.’ Violetta knows it is too late, that she is dying. Again, she succumbs to sorrow and delirium; relives pieces of her life and implores Heaven’s pardon for her past.
A raucous festival tune invades her mind - then Annina tries to revive her - then suddenly Alfredo is in the room. What is real? Could this be Alfredo, himself? Dear God, let it be true!!
Reconciliation, with eternal vows, gives Violetta new strength, but only for a short time. Weakness and frailty again overtake her body. She pleads to go to church, but is too weak. A sudden delirium possesses her. She rejects Alfredo and God, and finally falls fainting. Germont arrives and yet again she gathers hope, but very soon becomes feverish. In her weakness Violetta beckons Alfredo beside her, places a miniature of herself in his hand, asking him to promise that one day he will marry. Suddenly a surge of energy causes her to rise and she calls out from her “half world”...
“Oh, Joy”, reaches Alfredo, wanting to kiss him….and collapses in his arms.
By Joseph Rescigno,
In many ways, Giuseppe Verdi is to opera what Ludwig van Beethoven is to symphonic literature: their works are mainstays of their repertories; both composers continued to grow and develop musically throughout their lives; and their numerous works may be divided into three distinct periods. Also, Verdi’s style is not unlike Beethoven’s, characterized as it is by rhythmic drive, sophisticated development and counterpoint, and rock-solid architecture.
La traviata is the last of three enduring Verdi works premiered in just the three years 1851 to 1853 (the other two being Rigoletto and Il trovatore). While some people may disagree as to whether La traviata is forward-looking enough to be called the first verismo opera, it is a break from classic bel canto opera. First, the plot is modern; indeed, its heroine’s lifestyle was considered too racy for a contemporary setting, and for about four decades after its premiere it was set in the eighteenth century. The other modern aspect of the opera is its extensive through-composition; there are long stretches of music where the bel canto composers would have presented separate numbers and left room for applause. Moreover, the vocal ornamentation is supplied by the composer and more restrained than we hear in bel canto operas; singers bring few, if any, personalized variations and embellishments to La traviata.
Dabs of orchestral color are added by a banda in both Acts I and III. This is a group of musicians who play contrasting music that is part of the story, sometimes outside the pit (backstage, for example). In La traviata, the banda plays during the party of the first act and outside Violetta’s window in the last act. Listen, too, for the beautiful clarinet solo of Act II, Scene 1, where Violetta writes her farewell letter to Alfredo; it is almost certain that this clarinet solo and the cello quartet of Verdi’s later opera, Otello, served as inspiration for Giacomo Puccini when he composed the opening sections of Tosca’s Act III.
While using the same size orchestra as Verdi’s other operas of that time, this opera has a particularly light orchestration and feeling. Not until his last opera, Falstaff, would Verdi again serve musical champagne in quite this manner. After the entire orchestra bubbles with the opening tune (allegro brillantissimo e molto vivace, a most brilliant allegro and very lively), the composer reduces the orchestra to just a few strings. In fact, depending on the size and acoustics of the theater, this passage can sound exquisite with just a string quartet, which reasonably could be playing at this kind of party.
The challenges in conducting La traviata, include cultivating this spirit of beauty and delicacy. Even in the opera’s most dramatic moments, it is imperative to avoid heaviness. In the Act II, Scene 2 confrontation between Alfredo and Violetta, for example, we can sustain the drama but avoid excess by having the strings play some of their repeated notes using a light, bouncing, bowing technique (such as the picturesquely named “ricochet” technique).
Those repeated rhythmic figures in the accompaniments, which are part of why the orchestra can get heavy in this scene, are more common in La traviata than in Verdi’s other works of this period. They are not like the repeated arpeggios in the introduction to “Casta Diva” in Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma, which sound delicate and even ethereal. The figures used here play a more percussive role, like the chords in the rock and roll pianos of Chubby Checker or Jerry Lee Lewis, or the bass instruments in jazz and rock combos. When used by today’s concert and opera composers, these repeated figures are generally referred to as ostinati (plural of ostinato, the Italian for “stubborn”). In addition to hearing these in the Violetta-Alfredo confrontation, we encounter them when Germont sings of his daughter in Act II, Scene 1; as Violetta writes her farewell letter to Alfredo later in that scene; during her final aria, “Addio del passato” (Goodbye to the past); and at the conclusion of the opera.
In La traviata, Verdi supplies indications more liberally than earlier composers did, a practice that would grow throughout the romantic era and into our own day. As is true in all music, however, performing it requires thought about dramatic purpose and imagination in execution. For the conductor, the preludes to Act I and the final act, comprise a particularly apt example. They look very similar on the page. There is room to treat them differently, however, without any fundamental change in the music. In the first prelude, the orchestra can portray a struggle: Violetta’s refusal to accept any limitations as expressed in the aria “Sempre libera” that closes the act. In the last act prelude. the same music played a bit slower and softer and even calmer can preview her acceptance of inevitable death as expressed in that act.
The Act II finale is a model of its type, masterfully portraying a complex tapestry of emotion. It is constructed from basic building blocks, and it is plain but elegant in the manner of a square-cut diamond. First, the three lead singers have similar musical lines, differentiated in large measure by articulation. Violetta’s music is written almost entirely legato, in long lines of connected notes. Germont has some staccato marks, indicating that the syllables should be clipped and disconnected. Alfredo, remorseful after his outburst, has many more staccato marks than Germont over his notes, probably to suggest sobbing. Where he does not have staccato marks, he has a great many notes of very short duration.
Second, this Act II finale is marked largo, a slow tempo, with no changes indicated for the remainder of the act. This means no change in the tempo of a long sequence that begins with the entrance of Germont with “Di sprezzo degno” (Worthy of scorn), continuing through Alfredo’s remorse, “Ah si che feci?” (What have I done?) and Violetta’s aside, “Alfredo, Alfredo, di questo core” (Alfredo, Alfredo, from this heart) and all of the onlookers’ comments. It requires a lot of discipline to portray contrasting emotions for some ten minutes with only the modest tempo flexibility typical of nineteenth century music, but without any fundamental change in the beating pattern. If we trust Verdi, however, this consistency lends a unity to the whole and produces a tremendous cumulative impact.
In La traviata, Verdi told a story through music that has captivated audiences for more than 150 years, and even though it no longer seems likely to provoke any public debates about morality, it still draws us in. The hardest part for modern audiences to swallow may be the success Germont has in bullying his son and, even more, Violetta. However, prior to World War I, conventions were very different from today. If we imagine Germont as a member of a strict religious community, we can perhaps come closer to understanding how his argument is possible and see that the story is rooted in truth.
The opera’s greatest truths—love, loss, and unintended consequences—are timeless, of course. Great music, by speaking directly to our hearts and even our guts in addition to our brains, can lift a story’s characters out of their specific place and time and make them as real as our neighbors.
By James de Blasis,
When the young Alexandre Dumas, fils created the Lady of the Camellias, he gave literature one of the most fascinating women – a woman of indolence and heedless gaiety; yet her beauty and fame masked a spirit of selfless generosity. Her life was like that of other kept women who lived in the demi-monde and enchantment of 19th century Paris.They were rich, collected men unabashedly, and lived only for pleasure and intrigue, but Marguerite Gautier, as depicted by Dumas, was capable of giving more; her love – and her love affair with Armand Duval became immortal.
Dumas’ novel. La Dame aux Camellias published in 1845; was an immense success in Paris and in 1852 he transformed it into a play, of which the critic, Andre Maurois, wrote: “What formed his constant subject was love; love between men and women, parents and children. The love he felt for his mother had taught him to feel pity for all women unjustly outlawed by society.” Dumas knew that suffering because he was born out of wedlock.
While Verdi was working on Il Trovatore in Paris where he was living at the time, he saw La Dame aux Camellias. He may have been drawn to the play because it corresponded to his own situation, for at the time he was living and travelling with the soprano, Giuseppina Strepponi (whom he later married). His family and friends had not accepted this double standard. Even though he had not completed Il Trovatore, Verdi, feeling the same compassion as did Dumas for the Lady who announced her availability by the color of the camellias she wore, decided to lay out his plan for La Traviata.
One notes that the titles of Verdi’s usually meant very little to him, he was satisfied by using the name of the main character: Aida, Macbeth, Otello, Rigoletto. But with La Traviata he insisted that the work not be called Violetta. Seven weeks after Trovatore premiered in Rome, 1853, La Traviata was produced at La Fenice Theater in Venice. Eighteen operas from Verdi’s pen had preceded this composition.
This Opera contains much of the warm, emotional melodic profuseness which the public likes. It gives pleasure through its sadness. It is important to note that this opera is the most domestic of all his works. Lyricism is Verdi’s chief power as a dramatist; not only his power but a greatness that sets him apart decisively from other composers. His tunes and melodic phrases are romantic, never sentimental. This might be contributed to his changing the musical form, the cabaletta. In the early 19th century this device was used in an aria or duet of sentimental form which always came after a slower, quieter section of writing and served to guarantee rousing applause or ending to a scene.
In Traviata the cabaletta for Violetta is much more imaginatively arranged. At the end of Act I, touched by Alfredo’s declaration of his love, Violetta ponders whether she can find lasting love, in the aria, “Ah fors’ e lui”. Then quite abruptly, she pushes the self-indulgent thoughts out of her mind, and sings the slightly hysterical cabaletta, “Sempre libera”. She must be free and live only for day-to-day pleasure, which may be the core of the entire opera. Violetta has a tremendous inner struggle; the yearning to let go of the high life but fear of giving it up.
Alfredo is a poetic soul in love with love; she submits to that love and it is her destruction. This opera, in whatever era, is not three acts of romanticism with a waltz tempo. La Traviata is the musical depiction of the inner struggle of one who is not always to be admired but always to be pitied.
James de Blasis, Stage Director
James de Blasis has been an active Producer, Stage Director and Dramatic Operatic Role Coach all over the United States. After a professional debut starring Richard Tucker in La Boheme his career flourished with a New York City Opera debut in Carmen, starring Placido Domingo and Beverly Wolff. After that came debuts in San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Hawaii, Pittsburgh, Palm Beach, Tulsa, San Diego, Portland, Memphis, Harford, The Schubert Opera and Opera Canada.
Jim took over the Cincinnati Opera as both General and Artistic Director leading that company to international acclaim with productions of rarities like Zaza and Risurrezione, a US premiere, repertoire of vast diversity and discovery of young artists who made major international careers. He received the Post Corbett Award in Cincinnati as Artist of the Year, The Ohio Governors award for Artistic Administration, served on both the Opera and National Panels for the National Arts Endowment and received the Opera America Citation for 25 years of Outstanding Leadership of Cincinnati Opera.
Recommended by Beverly Sills and Norman Treigle, Jim became National Consultant to The Corbett Foundation giving financial assistance to 28 Opera Companies in America, including the first grants to the then OMAHA OPERA in the early 70’s. He is also remembered locally having directed Beverly Sills in Lucia di Lammermoor which opened the restored Orpheum Theater in 1975.
His operatic repertoire consists of 64 differing operas from L’Incoronazione di Poppea to Boris Godonov. Jim has a special affinity for French repertoire scoring huge successes in Faust, Manon, Romeo et Juliette, Werther, Carmen and Pearl Fishers.
His famous “Wild West Elixir” has been seen all over the U.S. to great acclaim, and shown on National Television along with his Hansel & Gretel.
Jim says his favorite work is the “one-on-one” coaching of artists with special emphasis on character discovery thru the score and constant work on meaning of the music thru the bel-canto emphasis on text.
Joseph Rescigno, Conductor
Joseph Rescigno has conducted symphonies, concertos, operas and oratorios for more than fifty companies on four continents. Since 1981, he has served as Artistic Advisor and Principal Conductor of the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he has conducted some of the company’s most challenging repertory including the Florentine Opera’s first world premiere, Don Davis’ Rio de Sangre in 2010 (recorded by Albany Records, 2011). This season he conducts the company’s productions of Turandot and Idomeneo as well as Madama Butterfly for Arizona Opera and Le nozze di Figaro for Lyric Opera Baltimore. Next season he conducts La Traviata for Opera Omaha and Atlanta Opera as well as his company’s productions of Carmen and Le nozze di Figaro. Rescigno also served as Artistic Director of l’Orchestre Métropolitain of Montreal and, in that capacity over four years, made four recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn, and Mozart on the Analekta label.
Inna Dukach, Violetta
Russian-American soprano Inna Dukach has been praised for “an immediately appealing, youthfully rich and velvety voice.”
The artist’s 2011-2012 season includes debuts with the Israeli Opera, as Nedda in Pagliacci; Dayton Opera and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, as Mimì in La Bohème; Pensacola Opera, in a role debut as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly; and New Orleans Opera, as Nedda in Pagliacci and the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana. She also returns to Opera Colorado as Rosalba in Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas.
Next season she will sing the role of Violetta in La traviata with Opera Omaha, Donna Anna in Toledo Opera’s production of Don Giovanni and Violetta in concert with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra.
Recent performances of note include her debut at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Musetta in La Bohème; a highly acclaimed Mimì in La Bohème with New York City Opera; the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Walter in La Wally with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Hong Kong, Liù in Turandot with the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Tatiana in Eugene Onegin with Opéra Lyra Ottawa, Violetta in La traviata with Zagreb Opera in Croatia, Marguerite in Faust with Opera New Jersey, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Orlando Opera and Opera Carolina, and Xenia in Boris Godunov with San Diego Opera.
Joshua Kohl, Alfredo
American tenor Joshua Kohl has been called a “tenor to watch” by The Boston Herald and was recently singled out for his “glorious, relaxed performance” by Opera News. The Salt Lake Tribune said of his Macbeth that he “nearly steals the show with his impassioned portrayal of Macduff. The young tenor brings a jolt of urgency to every scene he's in, and the aria in which Macduff expresses his grief over his family's murder is arguably the emotional high point of the evening.”
Mr. Kohl begins the 2011- 12 season at Nashville Opera portraying Alfredo in their production of La Traviata. He follows that engagement with the role of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Sarasota Opera and the Duke in Rigoletto with Lake George Opera. Concert engagements during the season include Carmina Burana with the Hartford Symphony, among others. During the 2010-11 season Mr. Kohl sang Alfredo in La Traviata with Tulsa Opera, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Sarasota Opera, West Side Story Suite in concert with the Lexington Philharmonic, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 with the New Jersey Symphony.
During the previous season, he joined the Dallas Opera as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for student matinee performances, Sarasota Opera as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte which was “sung suavely” (Herald Tribune), Lake George Opera as Don José in Carmen, the Commonwealth Opera as Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutte and Utah Opera as Macduff in Macbeth. On the concert stage he was an Artist-in-Residence with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and sang Handel’s Messiah with the New Haven Symphony.
During the 2008 - 09 season, the tenor sang Rodolfo in La Boheme with the Pittsburgh Opera, and made debuts with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as First Jew in Salome and with the Virginia Opera as Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore. His Nemorino was praised for his “sincere and touching performance. The young tenor displayed a bright voice of great size, yet capable of movement and nuance.” (Portfolio Weekly) On the concert stage he presented a recital under the auspices of the Upper Ohio Valley Opera Guild, joined Yale University for a performance of Stravinsky’s In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, and appeared with both Opera Providence and Connecticut Concert Opera.
During the 2007-2008 season, Mr. Kohl joined Opera North for performances of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, sang Al Joad in The Grapes of Wrath with Utah Opera, and covered the title roles in both Troilus and Cressida and The Tales of Hoffmann with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. While an Artist Diploma candidate in Opera at Yale University, he appeared as Torquemada in L’Heure Espagnole, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, and Dr. Ucitelli in Comedy on a Bridge. Concert engagements included Carmina Burana with the Yale Camerata, Les Noces with the Yale
Symphony Orchestra, and Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass with the Connecticut Master Chorale, for which the Danbury News-Times said his rendition of the Sanctus was the “high point” of the afternoon. He represented the city of San Francisco at the Nakanoshima International Music Festival in Osaka, Japan, and offered a recital for the Albright College Concert Series for which The Reading Eagle praised him for his “ambitious program that showed his versatility, his acting ability and, above all, his glorious voice.”
Operatic highlights from recent seasons include performances as Al Joad in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath, Serano in La Donna del Lago, Nathaniël/Spalanzani in Les contes d’Hoffmann, and the cover role of Gérald in Lakmé – all at the Minnesota Opera while he was a Resident Artist. In addition, he has performed in principal and comprimario roles with Boston Lyric Opera, Minnesota Opera, Utah Opera, Virginia Opera, San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, The Ohio Light Opera, Yale Opera, Boston University’s Opera Institute, and at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. On the concert stage he has performed with composer Richard Wargo in From the Bards of Ireland, a concert of Irish-inspired music, in addition to appearances in Los Angeles with Operetta Foundation. He appears as the title character in Albany Records’ recently released album The Birdseller.
A National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2007, he also received Honorable Mention in the 2008 Irma Cooper International Vocal Competition, and placed 7th in the 40th Annual Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition in 2009. Mr. Kohl earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati, and a Master of Music degree from Boston University.
Jake Gardner, Germont
Boasting a career which includes performances with major opera companies and orchestras throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, bass-baritone Jake Gardner remains one of the opera world’s most sought-after singing actors. Noted North American engagements from the past few seasons include Doc in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place Place with New York City Opera, Betto in Gianni Schicchi and Hortensio in La Fille du Régiment with San Francisco Opera, DeBritigny in Manon for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly for Florida Grand Opera, Baron Zehta in The Merry Widow with Los Angeles Opera, his debut as Wotan in Die Walküre with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Buffalo Bill Cody in Annie Get Your Gun, Ronaldo Cabral in Later That same Evening, and Jupiter in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld at Glimmerglass Opera, as well as Horace Tabor in Central City Opera’s The Ballad of Baby Doe. In the current 2011-2012 season and beyond, engagements include Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Arizona Opera, The Mayor in John Musto’s The Inspector at Boston Lyric Opera, Ariadne auf Naxos at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man and The Judge in Lost in the Stars at Glimmerglass Opera, Germont in La Traviata with Opera Omaha and a return to Houston Grand Opera in 2015.
Leah Wool, Flora
In June of 2011, Leah Wool sang the roles of Dido and also the Sorceress in concert performances of Dido and Aeneas with the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival. The 2011-2012 season finds the artist in returns to the San Francisco Symphony, as the second mezzo-soprano in Debussy’s The Martyrdom of St. Sebastien, Spoleto Festival USA, for Glass’ Kepler and in a duo recital, and Gloria Musicae for Haydn's Seven Last Words of Christ. She will also sing Handel's Messiah with both the Kansas City Symphony and the Cincinnati Symphony. Future seasons include appearances with Nashville Opera and Knoxville Opera, as the title role in La cenerentola.
Her 2010-2011 season included returns to Gotham Chamber Opera as the title role in Montsalvatge's El gato con botas and Utah Opera as Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opéra Louisiane, and the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors with The Little Orchestra Society at Avery Fisher Hall. On the concert stage, she returned to Avery Fisher Hall in Copland's In the Beginning and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and debuted with the San Francisco Symphony for the Duruflé Requiem.
In previous seasons, Ms. Wool appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in performances of the Second Bridesmaid in Le nozze di Figaro, Marshal Murat's Adjutant in War and Peace, and the Second Novice in Suor Angelica for her debut. She has bowed as the Secretary in Menotti's The Consul with Glimmerglass Opera, Angelina in La Cenerentola with Orlando Opera, the title role in Massenet’s Cendrillon and Erika in Vanessa with Central City Opera, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel at Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Delia in Il Viaggio a Reims at New York City Opera, Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Utah Opera, and Léoena in La Belle Hélène with Santa Fe Opera.
Ms. Wool is the recipient of a 2008 Sullivan Foundation Award.
James Benjamin Rodgers, Gastone
Place of birth: Wellington, New Zealand
Versatile throughout a number of genre, James Benjamin Rodgers has been the recipient of numerous performance awards and scholarships. He is a consummate crossover singer who is comfortable in opera, art song, oratorio, musical theater, popular song and has championed many contemporary works through their debut.
He recently returned to Mac-Haydn Theater in summer stock as Tommy in Brigadoon and will be presented in a series of recitals throughout the fall in New Zealand. He makes his European debut in a Kurt Weill concert with the MDR Symphonie Orchestra in Dessau and Leipzig in 2013.
In past seasons he debuted the world-premieres Christopher Cerrone’s Invisible Cities as Marco Polo, the title role of The Kinsman Major Molineux by Bruce Saylor both in New York City; and was invited to the The Banff Center to sing the role of Bobby in Lillian Alling by John Estacio. He performed the role of Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas with Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with New Zealand Opera and has sung the title role in the musical Jekyll and Hyde.
He made his Lincoln Center debut with the Little Orchestra Society in Der Lindenbergflug by Kurt Weill with Sigourney Weaver as narrator and sang with the Ravinia Festival in Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel, James Conlon conducting. Other roles include; Baker in Stephen Sondheim’s Into The Woods, Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles, the title role of Monteverdi’s L’orfeo, Pluto in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers and Borsa in Boris Godunov.
Patricia Soria Urbano, Annina
Patricia Soria Urbano, Mexican Soprano, has been lauded as having …’rich, powerful vocals and feisty acting…’ (SF Weekly). Ms. Urbano is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied under Metropolitan Opera Soprano Ms. Patricia Craig. Some of Ms. Urbano’s roles include Susannah in Susannah, Antonia, Giulietta, and Stella in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Tosca in Tosca , Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Thais in Thais, Marguerite in Faust, Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, and Pamina in The Magic Flute . Ms. Urbano has worked with distinguished opera companies in California which include West Bay Opera covering the leading soprano role, Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice and Pocket Opera‘s Emperor Norton as Diana. Ms. Urbano was the recipient of the Mim Babin Scholarship Award from the American Musical Theatre as well as Redwood City’s Concerto Competition Winner. She is delighted to be joining Opera Omaha this season.
Kirk Vaughn Robinson, Baron
As a recent transplant, Kirk was thrilled to make his debut with Opera Omaha in their 2011 production of Hansel & Gretel as the Sandman and Pish-Tush in the 2012 production of The Mikado. Other local credits include The Rose Theater’s 2011 production of The Sound of Music, (Captain von Trapp- OEA Award nominee) He was the baritone soloist in the world premiere of Mark Kurtz’s With you Always (2011) and Moses in the premiere of Paul Boesing’s oratorio Journey to Canaan (2012).
He recently completed more than 12 years as a cast member of the National Broadway tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera (Lefevre & Fire Chief) touring the US and Canada. Other favorite musical/theater roles include National: Monsieur Firmin, Don Attilio, Auctioneer (The Phantom of the Opera), Regional: Don Quixote (Man of La Mancha), El Gallo (The Fantasticks) and Freddy Eynsford-Hill (My Fair Lady).
Operatic performances include roles with the Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Sorg & Whitewater Opera companies and the Cincinnati Pops. A few favorite roles include Regional: Papageno (Magic Flute), Father (Hansel & Gretel), Fiorello (Barber of Seville), Mattieu (Andrea Chenier).
He was awarded a full scholarship to the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria and also performed as an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera Company understudying the roles of MacHeath (Beggars Opera) and Falke (Die Fledermaus). An accomplished bronze sculptor, Kirk was recently named Omaha’s AC Gallery- Emerging Artist for 2011. His work can be seen in galleries throughout North America, as well as noted publications and magazines. Visit him at www.kirkvaughn.com as well as BullyingHurtsArtHeals.com
Terry Hodges, Marquis
American-trained, bass baritone Terry Hodges' stagecraft and vocal technique have assured him a busy career in opera and music theatre in the United States and Canada. His musicianship coupled with programmes at Santa Fe and Lake George Opera Festival led to engagements at Carnegie Hall and for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, among others. Mr. Hodges’ is renowned for his portrayal of Dr. Bartolo in IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA and he has been engaged for this role by companies in both the United States and Canada including Boston Lyric Opera, Pacific Opera Victoria, Opera Columbus and the Tulsa Opera.
Recent and upcoming engagements have Mr. Hodges engaged as Dick Deadeye in HMS PINAFORE for Nashville Opera, as Benoit/Alcindoro in LA BOHEME for Vancouver Opera, and the role of Dulcamara in L’ELISIR D’AMORE for Tulsa Opera. In 2006-2007, he returned to Manitoba Opera for Frank in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Opera Tulsa for THE LITTLE PRINCE, and took on the role of Leporello in DON GIOVANNI for Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestra London.
In 2005/2006 he was in Utah for KISMET and ANNIE GET YOU GUN, at Virginia Opera for Dr. Bartolo in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO and in Milwaukee for LITTLE WOMEN at Skylight Opera Theatre. The remainder of that season was filled with performances of KISMET for Toronto Operetta Theatre and MAN OF LA MANCHA back in Milwaukee.
He was heard in Thea Musgrave’s CHRISTMAS CAROL for Virginia Opera, in WOZZECK as the Doctor for Pacific Opera Victoria and as Dick Deadeye in Opera Omaha’s HMS PINAFORE. Puccini’s comic Sacristan in TOSCA took him back to the Opera Theater of St. Louis and he was in Philadelphia for Elder McLean in Floyd’s SUSANNAH.
Mr. Hodges appeared for Piedmont Opera as Luther/Crespel in Offenbach's LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN and was Trulove in THE RAKE'S PROGRESS for Vancouver Opera. After concert performances as Dulcamara in L'ELISIR D'AMORE for Orchestra London, he returned to Piedmont Opera as the Pirate King in THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE and was in Omaha for MAN OF LA MANCHA and Benoit/Alcindoro in LA BOHÈME for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Mr. Hodges has been featured by Virginia Opera as Angelotti in TOSCA, Opera Saskatchewan as Frank in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Toronto Operetta Theatre as Pali Racz in ZIGEUNER PRIMAS and the Opera Company of Philadelphia as Don Pedro in LA PÉRICHOLE.
Further roles in Mr. Hodges' repertoire include Don Alfonso in COSÌ FAN TUTTE, Colline in LA BOHEME, Henry Higgins in MY FAIR LADY, Dr. Engel in STUDENT PRINCEand Tevye in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. He also has more than 2,000 performances of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA among his list of credits.
With a degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Southern Colorado, this Chicago-born bass baritone also has the oratorio works of Mendelssohn, Fauré, Haydn, Brahms and Handel at his command.
Liam Moran, Dr. Grenvil
Bass Liam Moran recently performed the role of Dottore Grenvil in Pittsburgh Opera’s production of La traviata and was last seen at Opera Omaha as Norton in Rossini’s The Marriage Contract. Additionally last season he returned to Annapolis Opera for Frère Laurent in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and sang the Old Hebrew in Samson et Dalila with Washington Concert Opera. The 2012-2013 season brings his return to Annapolis as Sparafucile in Rigoletto, the Commendatore in Kentucky Opera’s Don Giovanni, and appearances in Handel’s Messiah with the Distinguished Concerts International New York, and St. Thomas in New York city. Other recent highlights include Snug in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Boston Lyric Opera, the title role in Le nozze di Figaro for Annapolis Opera, and excerpts of the same at the Virginia Arts Festival for Amadeus – a co-production of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chautauqua Theater Company.
Stage Director Jim de Blasis, Conductor Joe Rescigno, and the two stars of La Traviata talk with KVNO's Ben Rasmussen about the story, the music, and more. Click here for the story...