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Michelle Tabnick
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Saratoga Springs, NY

Opera Saratoga Announces 2016 Summer Festival Program

by Michelle Tabnick
June 13, 2016
Saratoga Springs, NY
Lawrence Edelson, Artistic and General Director of Opera Saratoga, announced the program for the 2016 Summer Festival, which will run from May 28th through July 17, 2016. The season will feature three new productions at The Spa Little Theater in Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, New York, along with a diverse slate of recitals and concerts at multiple locations in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls, and Albany.

“I was thrilled to see the response to the diversity of Opera Saratoga’s programming this past summer, as well as the expanded scope of our Festival,” Edelson said. “Once again, I have worked to put together a season that reflects the incredible power of opera to tell vivid and compelling stories through music in very different ways. The season will open with Mozart’s masterpiece, Le nozze di Figaro, which has not been produced by the company in 20 years. Building on both our commitment to presenting contemporary American work as well as operas in which dance plays a significant role, I’m thrilled to announce the American premiere of The Witches of Venice – a brilliant, but little known opera-ballet by Philip Glass. Finally, I am very excited to introduce our audiences to the music of Daniel Catán with our new production of Il Postino. Based on the beloved Academy Award wining film of the same name, Il Postino will be the first Spanish opera we have ever presented. To compliment the three operas, we will once again present an extensive series of events including a Mozart Liederabend, a concert of Spanish opera and song; and a Broadway Celebration featuring the Opera Saratoga Orchestra and members of our nationally acclaimed Young Artist Program.”

Single Tickets and Subscriptions, including special packages for out of town visitors to see all three operas over a long-weekend, are on sale now at www.operasaratoga.org - or by calling 518-584-6018.

LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (The Marriage of Figaro)
Composer – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Librettist – Lorenzo Da Ponte

A cornerstone of the operatic repertoire and one of the most frequently performed operas around the globe, Le nozze di Figaro returns to Opera Saratoga for the first time in twenty years. Beaumarchais’ play, upon which the opera is based, serves as the sequel to Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville). In an already volatile political climate, the play created a stir by pitting witty servants against their masters. The opera adaptation was originally banned in Vienna because of the licentiousness of the play, but Mozart’s librettist Da Ponte managed to get official approval, after which the opera was written and became a tremendous success. It was the first collaboration between Mozart and Da Ponte, the partnership, which later brought us Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte.

Le nozze di Figaro continues the plot of The Barber of Seville several years later. The Count has married Rosina and made her the Countess, but their marriage has gone sour because of his philandering. Figaro has quit barbering and is now the Count’s major-domo. He is engaged to Susanna, who is Countess Rosina’s maid - and the Count’s intended conquest. Bartolo is back to seek revenge on Figaro for taking Rosina away from him, with the help of the conniving music-master, Basilio. Adding to the fun are an amorous teenager, a scheming old maid, a drunken gardener and his daughter. Much happens over the course a single “day of madness” in this beloved masterpiece.

From the first tremors of the overture, Mozart’s score is brilliantly meshed with Da Ponte’s libretto to become the true engine of the drama that unfolds. In the words of the great composer Johannes Brahms, "In my opinion, each number in Figaro is a miracle; it is totally beyond me how anyone could create anything so perfect; nothing like it was ever done again, not even by Beethoven.”

Chinese bass Peixin Chen makes his Opera Saratoga debut as Figaro, and soprano Chelsea Basler - an alumna of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program previously seen as Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore – returns as Susanna, his bride to be. The production also features the company debuts of soprano Katherine Whyte as the Countess and baritone Keith Phares as the Count. Andrew Bisantz makes his conducting debut with the company, along with director David Paul who helms this new production.
Performance Dates: June 24 @ 7:30pm; June 27 @ 2:00pm; July 9 @ 2:00pm;
July 15 @ 7:30pm.


Composer - Philip Glass; Librettist - Beni Montresor

The second production of the season will be the American premiere of Philip Glass’ The Witches of Venice - an opera-ballet originally written for Teatro alla Scala in Milan that premiered in 1995. This whimsical opera that incorporates dance throughout was composed in collaboration with illustrator and stage designer Beni Montresor, who adapted the libretto from his children’s book of the same name.
Based in the historical Venice of Carnival, The Witches of Venice is a whimsical tale about a boy grown from a plant in the King’s garden, who is looking for a little girl like him. He soon finds himself escaping captors, wandering dark hallways, fleeing monsters, and ultimately finding a friend. It is a heartfelt story, with underlying themes of self-acceptance and finding one’s place in the world. The Witches of Venice is one of Glass’ most creative scores – a family-friendly opera featuring inventive songs, exhilarating dances, fantastical music portraying monsters and fairies, and savvy scoring that carries the story along. Opera Saratoga is thrilled to introduce American audiences to an important and little known work by one of America’s most important composers, and to continue its commitment to presenting contemporary American work as well as operas in which dance plays an integral role.
Internationally renowned director and choreographer Karole Armitage, who made her debut with Opera Saratoga this past summer creating the company’s critically acclaimed production of Dido and Aeneas, returns to direct and choreograph this American premiere production. Viswa Subbaraman, Artistic Director of Skylight Music Theater and former Artistic Director of the innovative contemporary opera company Opera Vista in Houston will conduct. Principal roles will be sung by members of Opera Saratoga’s Young Artist Program, the second oldest mentorship program for emerging professional singers in the country, directed by Laurie Rogers. Twenty-four singers were selected to participate in the program from over 1,000 applicants. Artists featured in The Witches of Venice include tenor Dominick Corbacio as The King, soprano Keely Futterer as The Witch Mother, baritone Jarrett Porter as The Ogre, mezzo soprano Emily Spencer as the Maid, and mezzo soprano Courtney Miller as The Wind.
As with last season’s production of Dido and Aeneas, members of the New York City based Armitage Gone! Dance Company will also be featured prominently in the production. In addition The Witches of Venice provides important opportunities for collaborations with other organizations in the region. Opera Saratoga will collaborate with The Capital District Youth Chorale, upstate New York’s premiere children’s chorus under the direction of Diane Warner, as well The School of the Arts at The National Museum of Dance under the direction of Raul Martinez, to provide opportunities for local children to perform alongside professional artists in the opera, which includes a children’s chorus and extensive use of both child and adult dancers.
Performance Dates: July 2 @ 7:30pm; July 11 @ 2:00pm; July 17 @ 2:00pm


Composer - Daniel Catán; Libretto by the composer, based on the novel by Antonio Skármeta, and the film by Michael Radford

Based on the Academy Award-winning 1994 Italian film that became a surprise hit with audiences around the world, and also on the 1985 novel Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skármeta, Il Postino tells the story of a shy young postman in a tiny Italian fishing village, who discovers the courage to pursue his dreams through his daily deliveries to his only customer, the esteemed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The role of Neruda was originally written for Plàcido Domingo, who sang the role at the opera’s premiere in 2010 at Los Angeles Opera – just months before composer Daniel Catán’s tragic death at the age of 62.

Catán is known for a neo-romantic style that has been compared variously to Puccini, Ravel and Debussy, with lush orchestrations and lyrical melodic lines. Tonal and accessible, his work has proven immensely popular with audiences.

Il Postino will be the first Spanish opera performed in Opera Saratoga’s history. The cast will feature the company debuts of four international singers: tenor Daniel Montenegro will sing the title role of Mario Ruoppolo - the postman - a role he recently sang in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet; tenor Richard Troxell sings the role of Pablo Neruda; and soprano Sandra López sings the role of Matilde Neruda, the poet’s third wife. James Lowe also makes his company debut conducting the production, which will be directed by Opera Saratoga’s Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson.
Performance Dates: July 7 @ 7:30pm; July 10 @ 2:00pm; July 16 @ 2:00pm


Guest conductor James Lowe leads the Opera Saratoga Orchestra, members of Opera Saratoga’s nationally acclaimed young artist program, and surprise guest artists in a one-night only concert featuring scenes from beloved Broadway musicals past and present.
Performance Date: July 14 @ 7:30pm


Free concerts will be presented throughout the region to enhance the community’s enjoyment of Opera Saratoga’s 2016 Summer Festival:

A MOZART LIEDERABEND - Saturday, June at 7 PM
The Froehlich Auditorium @ The Hyde Collection
161 Warren Street, Glens Falls, NY
While best known to opera lovers for his many extraordinary works for the stage, Mozart also wrote some of the most beautiful songs of the 18th century. Join us for an intimate evening of song in Italian, German and French by the great master.

The Dee Sarno Theater @ Saratoga Arts
320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY
To celebrate Opera Saratoga’s first Spanish opera, join us for a program of Spanish song, zarzuela, and a scenes from the operas of Daniel Catán, including a preview of our new production of Il Postino.
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