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San Diego Opera 2014 International Season...A Must See

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San Diego, CA---If memory serves, Verdi’s Requiem has been performed in San Diego on three different occasions, in 1978, 1988 and again in 2001.

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Verdi’s Requiem is the Roman Catholic funeral Mass for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was written in memory of Italian poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni. The San Diego Opera Chorus and San Diego Master Chorale will be the largest chorus San Diego Opera has ever assembled on the stage of the Civic Theatre for this one production.

“Why”, you might be asking am I talking about Requiem now? It just so happens that included in this year’s opera lineup, the BIG special event of the 2014 Opera season, is a presentation by the Company of Verdi’s Requiem, but for one night only.

The all-star cast will include Piotr Beezala (tenor), Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass) Krassimira Stoyanova (soprano), Stephanie Blythe (Mezzo soprano) and Massimo Zanetti will be conducting. This event will take place at the Civic Theatre on March 20th 2014 and according to those in the know, seating is limited, as most of the seats have already been spoken for.

Now for some very good news coming out of the offices of the Opera: Coming on the heels of Verdi’s 200th anniversary The San Diego Opera has been selected as one of the recipient of a $45,000 Art Work Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to support another of this season’s lineup, Verdi’s “A Masked Ball”, which is scheduled to open March 8th through March 16th. In all there will be four performances of one of Verdi’s most popular works.

Mark the date on your calendars for the opening performance of the 2014 International Season with the first of four operas to be presented this season. January 25, 2014 Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” will kick off another star powered (49th) season that also includes Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love”, Verdi’s “A Masked Ball” and Massenet’s “Don Quixote”.

When I mentioned to San Diego Opera’s Marketing Director that I had Caruso singing “Vesti la giubba” on an old (by now standards) 78 vinyl, he assured me that the role of the murderous clown Canio, American tenor Frank Porretta who was last heard as the Duke in Rigoletto in 2000, sounds very much like the late Caruso. We’ll see.

Returning to the Company is baritone Stephen Powell as the hunchback Tonio, who is in love with Nedda. Baritone David Adam Moore, who made his Company debut as Mercutio in 2010’s Romeo and Juliet to rave reviews, returns to sing the role of Nedda’s lover, Silvio. Rounding out the cast is tenor Joel Sorensen as Beppe.

Conductor Yves Abel, who made his Company debut last season leading performances of The Daughter of the Regiment, leads the orchestra for these performances. Director Andrew Sinclair, who directed last season’s Aida, returns to stage the action.

The set designer is John Coyne, the costumes are designed by Ed Kotanen and lighting designer Michael Whitfield complete the technical picture. This production of Pagliacci is owned by San Diego Opera. These performances will be the fourth time this opera has been performed by San Diego Opera with other performances happening in 2008, 1979 and 1969.

Pagliacci is a tragedy in three acts showing a comic opera troupe touring the Italian provinces. Canio, the clown is expected to laugh at everyone’s problems while behind the scenes he is grief-stricken to learn that his wife has fallen in love with the handsome soldier, Silvio. To find out how he deals with is own set of sorrows, the first showing is Jan. 25th.

Donizetti’s delightful comedy The Elixir of Love opens February 15, 2014 for four performances. Nemorino desperately wants to marry the wealthy Adina, who seems out of his league. When she attracts a handsome Sergeant as her suitor, he turns in desperation to the charlatan Dr. Dulcamara who claims to have an “elixir of love”. Nemorino spends all his money on the elixir and has to enlist to get cash for more.

When Dr. Dulcamara tells the village girls that Nemorino is suddenly rich they all chase after him, so Nemorino knows the potion works. But it takes more than an elixir to win Adina’s heart. Filled with tender love songs and fun duets, The Elixir of Love is a perfect example of opera buffa that overflows with melody and famous arias including the heartbreaking “Una furtiva lagrima”, a favorite of tenors making this a marvelous night of theatre. As most, it will be performed in Italian with English translations above the stage.

The Company is pleased to welcome Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti who makes his house debut as Nemorino. Joining him in another Company debut is Moldovan soprano Tatiana Lisnic as his love interest, the fickle Adina. Returning to round out the cast is bass John Del Carlo, last seen in the title role of Don Pasquale in 2012, as the charlatan Dr. Dulcamara. Baritone Malcolm MacKenzie, seen last season as the Second Knight/Second Tempter in Murder in the Cathedral, returns as army Sergeant Belcore who also has eyes for Adina.

Soprano Stephanie Weiss, last seen as Marianne in 2011’s Der Rosenkavalier, returns as Gianetta. Conductor Karen Kamensek, music director for Staatsoper Hanover, makes her much-anticipated Company debut on the podium, and stage director Stephen Lawless returns to stage the action.

The Elixir of Love will have a live radio broadcast on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 7PM on KPBS radio, 89.5 FM (97.7 FM Calexico) and online at

Giuseppe Verdi’s A Masked Ball opens March 8, 2014 with the return of tenor Piotr Beczala as Gustav III. Important Company debuts include soprano Krassimira Stoyanova as Amelia and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as Madame Arvidson. Conductor Massimo Zanetti making his company debut will lead this production.

Although the close relationship between Sweden’s King Gustav III and Amelia, wife of his best friend, Count Anckarström, has never crossed the line, jealousy and politics cause Anckarström to join a band of conspirators and ultimately to murder the King in front of his wife at a masked ball. As he dies, Gustav reveals the truth, and in operatic tradition, pardons Anckarström.

Inspired by the real-life assassination of King Gustav III after which Anckarström was actually beheaded, A Masked Ball features some of Verdi’s best music and one of the best love duets ever composed: Teco io sto.

Polish tenor Piotr Beczala is today’s hot lyric tenor and a star at every major opera house in the world including La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera and Munich; Bulgarian soprano Krassimira Stoyanova is hailed in Germany as the Stradivarius of sopranos and beloved at Covent Garden, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera and Vienna State Opera; and the great American mezzo-soprano, Stephanie Blythe, brilliant at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden and Berlin, make up a cast any great opera house would be proud to have for Verdi’s A Masked Ball.

San Diego Opera’s 49th International Season will close with a revival of Jules Massenet’s Don Quixote which will open on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 7 PM. The great bass Ferruccio Furlanetto returns to sing the titular eccentric wandering knight alongside returning bass Eduardo Chama as his sidekick Sancho Panza. Mezzo-soprano Anke Vondung returns to sing Dulcinea. Karen Keltner leads the orchestra and stage director Keturah Stickann makes her Company’s directorial debut staging the action in this production from San Diego Opera.

A subscription for three operas begins at a low $105 and a full four-opera subscription begins at $140.

“Seat prices have been lowered in some sections to make subscribing even more affordable, so this is the season to join us for music worth seeing,” adds General and Artistic Director Ian Campbell.

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See you at the theatre.


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