Florida Grand Opera, The Magic Flute, La sonnambula
Florida Grand Opera (FGO) continues its season of operatic must-sees in 2013 with two displays of extreme coloratura artistry, showcasing Jeanette Vecchione in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opening January 26, and Rachele Gilmore in Bellini's La sonnambula, opening February 9. Each production boasts a remarkable cast of returning fan-favorites and rising stars debuting with the company this season.
On January 26, 2013, Florida Grand Opera will welcome a new year with one of the most performed operas in the world - Die Zauberflöte. Mozart's last operatic masterpiece is an allegorical representation of the struggle between good and evil.
Through the visionary stage direction of Jeffrey Marc Buchman, this timeless tale comes alive in the imagination of a 1950s teenage boy who reads a book of The Magic Flute at bedtime and, as he dreams, is transported into the story, becoming its protagonist, prince Tamino. Two different worlds - the boy's reality and a wondrous fantasy land - meld through costumes and scenery as the prince is charged by the Queen of the Night with the rescue of her daughter, the lovely Pamina, from the hands of Sarastro. As his quest alongside the bird catcher Papageno nears its end, Tamino comes to know who the real villain is in this story.
The Queen of the Night, a role that requires a soprano to sing several F's above high C, is one of the most iconic characters in opera, will be undertaken by soprano Jeanette Vecchione, a virtuosa of the coloratura category. After debuting the role with the Vienna State Opera, her Queen of the Night at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in December 2011 not only commanded standing ovations each night, but turned her into a YouTube sensation, generating thousands of online views. The Juilliard School graduate has been described as "a rising star ... [with] easy high notes, which she used flawlessly," by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.
Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa makes her FGO and role debut as Pamina. This past November, she made her company and role debut as Cleopatra in Michigan Opera Theatre's Guilio Cesare, where she "simply dazzled ... [and] made the key dramatic arc from sexy schemer to a heroine of profound feeling," according to the Detroit Free Press. She was also recently featured in the Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcast of The Enchanted Island as Miranda, a role where she exhibited a "gleaming voice and beguiling grace," according to the New York Times. A graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Oropesa has performed with the Met numerous times and is scheduled to return there next season as Gilda in a new production of Rigoletto. Florida Grand Opera has selected her as this season's Walter and Ida Olson Artist, awarded to an outstanding American artist each year.
Our hero, Tamino, is sung by Andrew Bidlack, a former FGO Young Artist and recent San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. He last joined FGO for the 2010-2011 production of Don Giovanni, where he brought a "smooth tenor voice" to the role of Don Octavio, according to South Florida Classical Review. Former FGO Young Artist Jonathan G. Michie, a South Florida favorite, returns home in the comedic part of Papageno. Praised for "vocal mastery and theatrical panache" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Michie joined FGO last season in to sing in Roméo et Juliette as Mercutio. In the role of Sarastro is Jordan Bisch, described by the Dallas Morning News as a "beautifully chocolaty yet well-focused bass." The former Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist made his debut this season with the Dallas Opera as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, which he also performed with FGO in 2010.
Buchman joins forces again with conductor Andrew Bisantz, following a smash-hit with FGO's most recent Rigoletto. Bisantz "drew vigorous sounds from the orchestra, with brisk tempos" while Buchman's stage direction was credited with "[mastering] an art beyond the powers of many directors" in a review by South Florida Classical Review. This production of Die Zauberflöte was built by New York City Opera in 1988. Miami performances of Die Zauberflöte are sponsored, in part, by Funding Arts Network, and Fort Lauderdale performances are sponsored, in part, by Funding Arts Broward.
**Sung in German with English and Spanish projected translations**
MIAMI - Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
/ Ziff Ballet Opera House
January 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. - Opening Night;
February 1, 5, & 16, 2013, at 8 p.m.;
February 10, 2013, matinee at 2 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE - Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
February 21, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.;
February 23, 2013, at 8 p.m.
Tamino - Andrew Bidlack
Pamina - Lisette Oropesa *
Papageno - Jonathan G. Michie ◊
Queen of the Night - Jeanette Vecchione *
Sarastro - Jordan Bisch
Lady #1 - Lacy Sauter ♦
Lady #2 - Cynthia Cook ♦ *
Lady #3 - Carla Jablonski ♦ *
Monostatos - Matthew Maness ♦ *
Papagena - Hye Jung Lee ♦ *
Priest #1 - Matthew Newlin ♦ *
Priest #2 - Graham Fandrei
The Speaker - Adam Lau ♦
Armored Man #1 - Matthew Newlin ♦ *
Armored Man #2 - Ryan Milstead ♦
Conductor - Andrew Bisantz
Director - Jeffrey Marc Buchman ◊
Set & Costume Designer - Thierry Bosquet *
Lighting Designer - Donald Edmund Thomas
Choreographer - Rosa Mercedes
* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist
The season continues with the return of Bellini's La sonnambula, an FGO production with sets and costumes by Carlo Maria Diappi. Entitled "The Sleepwalker," this artful piece speaks of Amina, a simple village girl believed to be unfaithful to her fiancé, Elvino, due to her suspicious nighttime wanderings. It is among the finest of the bel canto (meaning "beautiful singing") style, which has attracted leading coloratura sopranos since its 1831 debut.