A Slice of Italy Comes to the bergenPAC in Verismo Opera’s Suor Angelica, Cavalleria Rusticana
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, October 01, 2013, 05:58 PM EDT
"Suor Angelica will have many light hearted moments among the young nuns in the beginning. One never sees this kind of levity, making the ending so much more tragic. Cavalleria Rusticana, a Sicilian masterpiece, will be true to the veristic style, which is so important for audiences,” said Amara.
In Suor Angelica, directed by General Manager/Canadian soprano Evelyn La Quaif, a heroine’s tragic plight harrows the emotions as hauntingly as Puccini’s other great work, Madama Butterfly. Then, four people’s roller-coaster lives unravel in the one-act melodrama of rustic chivalry, Cavalleria Rusticana, directed by Giovanni Simone. Love, adultery, jealousy, and bitterness unfold with honor and revenge on Easter in a Sicilian village, ultimately leading to death.
Both operas will be presented with the cast in costumes created by Catherine Mirabella and Barbara Konig, a live orchestra under Maestro Anthony Morss, and the Verismo Opera Chorus directed by Mara Waldman. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, Gioachino Forzano’s libretto of Suor Angelica and Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti’s and Giudo Menasci’s libretto of Cavalleria Rusticana will be performed with traditional staging and sets.
La Quaif, who performs the lead role of Suor (Sister) Angelica, has acquired a repertoire of more than 30 roles, including La Bohème, Tosca, Isabeau, Madama Butterfly, I Pagliacci, La Traviata, Faust, and Lucia di Lammermoor. She has appeared at various concert halls, such as Weill Recital, Carnegie, and Alice Tully in New York, as well as in Vienna and Palermo and most major Canadian houses.
Debuting with Verismo Opera, mezzo-soprano Leslie Middlebrook performs La Zia Principessa, a role she has performed with Opera Company of Brooklyn, Henry St. Opera, and the Des Moines Metro Opera. She has appeared in opera, concert, operetta and oratorio from Carnegie Hall to San Francisco and throughout Europe performing in Peter Grimes, Aida, and several others.
Singers returning to the Verismo Opera stage to appear in Suor Angelica are soprano StacyLyn Bennett (cover Suor Angelica), mezzo-soprano Silvana Chu (La Badessa), soprano Jennifer Hoffmann (Sister Genovieffa), and mezzo-soprano Marie Anello (Novice). Bennett and Chu performed the memorable roles of Cio-Cio-San and Suzuki, respectively, in Verismo Opera’s acclaimed Madama Butterfly in 2012. In April, Hoffmann and Anello appeared in Verismo Opera’s debut of Gianni Schicchi.
Cast members debuting with Verismo Opera in performing roles are soprano Heather Antonissen (Monitor), mezzo-soprano Rachel Selan (Mistress of the Novices), soprano Elizabeth Sanders (Sister Osmina), soprano Eleanor Pearl (Sister Dolcina), mezzo-soprano Erika Bourque (Nursing Sister), soprano Jill Burstein (Alms Collector), soprano Alison Davy (Alms Collector), soprano Brenda Belohoubek (Novice), mezzo-soprano Heather Jones (Lay Sister), and soprano Dorothy Smith Jacobs (Lay Sister).
Director Giovanni Simone, Verismo Opera co-founder and Technical Director, has been involved with many companies in the tri-state area, including as Principal Stage Director and Set Designer with Regina Opera in Brooklyn. He is also a member of the Verismo Opera Chorus.
Tenor Edgar Jaramillo debuts with the company in the lead role of Turiddu. Previously, Jaramillo performed supporting roles with Family Opera, Henry Street Settlement and the Amato Opera. He is joined by mezzo-soprano Galina Ivannikova in the role of Santuzza. Ivannikova performed previously in Verismo Opera’s productions of Il Trovatore and Aida.
Verismo Opera welcomes baritone Robert Garner as Alfio. Garner sings with The Metropolitan Opera Associate Chorus, performing in a range of repertoire such as Aida, Boris Godunov, La Damnation de Faust, and Turandot.
Mezzo-soprano Rachel Arky, a finalist in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s 2012 Annual International Vocal Competition, appears as Lola. Arky was recently seen as Maddalena in Rigoletto and Hattie in Kiss Me Kate at the Natchez Festival of Music. Leslie Middlebrook rounds out the cast as Mamma Lucia, having performed this role previously with the Brooklyn Repertory Opera.
The covers are mezzo-soprano Natasha Novitskaia (Santuzza), tenor Hamid Rodríguez (Turiddu), baritone Gustavo Morales (Alfio), and soprano Heather Antonissen (Lola).
Special Ticket Rates Announced
Verismo Opera is providing the public with a special 30% off on $55 and $45 tickets only on October 10, 11 and 12 (Code CS3). Discount ticket rates for senior citizens, ages 65 and over, and children, ages 12 and under accompanied by a ticket-holding adult, are available now through October 20 to see Suor Angelica and Cavalleria Rusticana. Senior citizens, ages 65 and over, purchasing regular-priced tickets on non-sale dates are entitled to a 10% discount. Tickets may be purchased online at www.verismopera.org , at the bergenPAC box office, and by calling (201) 227-1030 or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW.
For special rates for group discounts available only on $55 and $45 tickets with a purchase of a minimum of 50 tickets, call (201) 224-2809. This rate is not available online.
The 2013 season is made possible, in part, with funds provided by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State, through grand funds administered by the Bergen County Department of Parks, Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs. Other supporters include the Mary Casella Briggs Memorial Fund, The Gerda Lissner Foundation, Inc., Vanguard Charitable Endowment Fund, Children’s Aid Foundation, Paul Weiss Matching Fund, Robert J. Campbell, MD and Cesare L. Santeramo, KSJ.
About New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera
The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera (Verismo Opera) has been a part of the New Jersey music scene since 1989. Verismo Opera, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, is a grand, professional opera company led by Artistic Director and Met Opera luminary Lucine Amara. The organization provides performing opportunities for young musicians and artists and sponsors an annual vocal competition held in November with finals generally conducted in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Hall, drawing artists from all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. The company also organizes opera workshops and concerts and offers affordable, highly professional operatic productions.
For more information about Verismo Opera, visit its web site, www.verismopera.org , follow the company on Facebook at http://bit.ly/9JXTP8 or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera, or call (201) 886-0561.