-When the curtain rises in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera’s new production La Traviata, the audience will recognize several familiar faces on the stage. The New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera presents its spring production, La Traviata, this Sunday at the Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC). Last performed by the nonprofit company in 2006, Verismo Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi’s opera on April 6, 3:00 p.m., at the bergenPAC, located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood.
Several New Jersey vocalists will perform in the new production. Soprano Hea-Ran Kim from Ridgewood debuts with the company in the role of the tragic courtesan Violetta Valéry, a role she has performed at several venues such as Sejong Chamber Hall and Baekseok Art Hall. Among the roles that she has performed are Gilda in Rigoletto, Elizabeth in The Secret Marriage, Violetta in La Traviata, Pamina in Die Zauberflote, and Mimi in La Boheme. She has made solo appearances in Missa solemnis, Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and The Creation.
Oswaldo Iraheta returns to the Verismo Opera stage to perform the role of Alfredo Germont, Violetta’s wealthy lover. Last year, the Edgewater tenor, who hails from Chicago, received thunderous applause in his debut with the company as Rinuccio in its premiere of Gianni Schicchi. Earlier this year, he was named a finalist in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera 2013 Annual International Vocal Competition.
Singers appearing again on the Verismo Opera stage are mezzo-soprano Erika Bourque as Flora Bervoix, soprano Brenda Belohoubek as Annina, and tenor Joel Cardona as Giuseppe. Last fall, Bourque and Belohoubek debuted with Verismo Opera in Suor Angelica. Bourque, a Teaneck resident, has sung leading roles with the University of Connecticut Opera, Palisades Opera, Westminster Opera, and Opera Theatre of Connecticut. Belohoubek has also performed numerous roles with Stony Hill Players, Eastern Opera of New Jersey, Amici Opera, and Opera NEO.
In 2009, Cardona debuted with Verismo Opera in Un Ballo in Maschera, followed by a new opera, The Theory of Everything, for Encompass Opera Theatre in New York. He has also appeared with Verismo Opera as Spoletta in Tosca and Ruiz in Il Trovatore. Recent roles include Count Danilo in The Merry Widow and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus for Amore Opera in New York.
Other area singers returning to Verismo Opera are baritone James Moy from Colts Neck in the roles of the Commissioner and a Servant and Weehawken tenor Fred Frabotta as Gastone de Loiterres. Moy, a family doctor and a lifelong chorister, sang with the Verismo Opera Chorus for six years, debuting in Verismo Opera’s Il Trovatore and performing a in Pagliacci, Madama Butterfly, and in Gianni Schicchi.
Frabotta debuted with the company as Goro in Madama Butterfly. With other opera companies along the eastern seaboard, he has performed in Hansel and Gretel, Tosca, among others.
Jonathan Scott from Springfield debuts with the company as Giorgio Germont. A Sparta native, Scott was named a finalist in the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera 2013 Annual International Vocal Competition. He performed with The Metropolitan Opera Chorus for two seasons in Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, Wagner’s Parsifal and the Grammy award winning production of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung from Der Ring des Nibelungen.
New York vocalists debuting with the company are baritone Ras Dia in the role of Marquis d’Obigny and baritone Carlos Arcos as Flora’s servant. Hailing from Southwest Harbor, Maine,
bass-baritone Joshua Miller will make his first appearance with Verismo Opera in La Traviata as Dr. Grenvil. Baritone Robert Garner, a New York City resident who performed last October in the company’s production of Cavalleria Rusticana, appears in La Traviata as Baron Douphol.
Under Artistic Director Lucine Amara, a Metropolitan Opera luminary, the only grand opera company in Bergen County is observing its 25th anniversary throughout 2014. Verismo Opera launches its new season, Vive la France, with the new production La Traviata presented in four acts with Francesco Maria Piave’s libretto in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth.
The love story, shrouded in sacrifice and misunderstanding, will unfold on the stage under director Evelyn La Quaif. The fully staged production will be presented with the cast singing in Italian. English supertitles will be provided.
The Verismo Opera Chorus and a live orchestra will perform under the baton of Mara Waldman. Dancers from Roberta Mathes’ dance company, beyondDANCE, will perform the entertaining gypsy scene in act three. The complete cast will appear in period costumes designed by Bergen County’s Catherine Mirabella and Barbara Konig.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.bergenpac.org, at the bergenPAC box office, and by calling (201) 227-1030 or toll-free at 1-888-PACSHOW. Through the organization’s Bring the Family to the Opera program, the professional performance is made affordable with special discount rates, allowing multiple generations to enjoy this art form.
Senior citizens, ages 65 and over, receive a 10% discount. Verismo Opera is offering a reduced rate of $10 on all tickets for children, ages 12 and under, when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult.
The special senior citizen and children’s discount tickets are available at the box office only and must be requested before the purchase. For special rates for group sales, call (201) 224-2809. Discount tickets are not available for purchase online.
The bergenPAC is handicapped accessible. Hearing assist systems are available upon request at to the house manager in the lobby.
This production of La Traviata is made possible in part by a special grant from The Children’s Aid Foundation; Paul Weiss Matching Fund; Robert J. Campbell, MD; Cesare L. Santeramo, KSJ; The Gerda Lissner Foundation, Inc.; Vanguard Charitable Endowment Fund, and 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.
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 Liederkranz 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 www.verismopera.org; follow the company on Facebook or Twitter @NJVerismoOpera; or call (201) 886-0561.
Cutline: A scene from La Traviata Photo Credit: Marilyn Monsanto