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20 Jan 2013

San Diego Opera new season 2013

The New Year 2013 is here and San Diego Opera will open its season at the end of this month. The company will present four well known operas: Gaetano Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment (La Fille du Regiment), Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson and Delilah, Ildebrando Pizzetti's Murder in the Cathedral (Assassinio nella Cathedrale) and Giuseppe Verdi's Aida along with a Mariachi opera: Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, (To Cross the Face of the Moon).

Although Donizetti was Italian, he composed The Daughter of the Regiment to a French libretto by Jean-Francois Bayard and Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges. On February 11, 1840, it was first seen at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Three years later, its American premiere took place in New Orleans, not New York. The opera is a showpiece for the tenor who sings nine high Cs in the aria 'Ah! Mes amis, quel jour de fête'. In San Diego, that tenor will be Stephen Costello who has previously sung brilliant performances of Romeo and Faust there. His
sweetheart, Marie, will be Slovakian coloratura soprano L'ubica Vargicová who was an exquisite Gilda in Rigoletto at San Diego in 2009 and who is well known for her portrayal of the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute at the Metropolitan and Los Angeles Operas.

Renowned Polish contralto, Ewa Podleś and American soprano Carol Vaness will sing the character roles of the Marquise of Birkenfeld and the Dutchess of Krakenthorp. Here is what Ms. Podleś wrote about the opera: "What is The Daughter of the Regiment about? It’s about love! The Marquise of Berkenfield? In the pure theatrical sense she is not the main role, but on the other hand, it is Marquise who is the spiritus
movens of the entire plot. It is she who finally decides about the fate of two people in love. Their future happiness depends on her. That’s why, even though hers is not the main role, in many ways she is the leading character."

"San Diego is a place with a soul! My return to the San Diego Opera is an opportunity to meet a magnificent, charming staff, sensitive public and personally, Stage Director Emilio Sagi, whom I love to work with because of his internal space and his limitless imagination. And last but not least, a meeting with Carol Vaness. Both of us we made our Met debuts at the same performance of Rinaldo in 1984."

You can see The Daughter of the Regiment on the evenings of Saturday,
January 26th; Tuesday, the 29th; Friday, February 1st, or at the Sunday
matinee on the 3rd.

The second production at San Diego Opera will be Camille Saint Saëns'
Samson and Delilah with bronze-voiced tenor Clifton Forbis as the
Biblical strong man and seductive mezzo-soprano Nadia Krasteva as the
beautiful but treacherous lover who cuts off his all-important hair. With
full chorus, a fascinating ballet, colorful costumes, and monumental
sets, this is a blockbuster production not to be missed. Resident
Conductor and Music Administrator Karen Keltner will lead the orchestra.
Performances are on Saturday, February 16th; Tuesday, the 19th; Friday,
the 22nd; and Sunday, the 24th.

On March 16th, San Diego Opera will present two performances of the
Mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon)
which has music by José "Pepe" Martínez and lyrics by Leonard Foglia
and the composer. The performers are the well-known Mariachi Vargas of
Tecalitlán who can be heard on more than eight hundred recordings. The
bilingual opera follows three generations of a family, their countries,
their cultures and their customs. The central character, Mark Velasquez,
is a Mexican-American. Like the Monarch butterflies which migrate every
year to the birthplace of his father, Mark and the members of his family
must travel both physically and spiritually between Michoacán and Texas
and look deep into their hearts before they learn where they truly

Celebrate the music, memories, color, and high spirits of Mexico in this
semi-staged production as the rich classical sounds of the traditional
Mariachi and brilliant soloists create a poignant and moving opera.
Directed by Broadway's Leonard Foglia, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna will
have super titles in both English and Spanish.

San Diego Opera's presentation of Ildebrando Pizetti's rarely seen
opera, Murder in the Cathedral, has sparked interest from all over
the country. It tells the true story of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of
Canterbury, who was brutally murdered in his cathedral in 1170. The role
of the archbishop is a tour-de-force for the great Italian bass Ferruccio
Furlanetto. Susan Neves sings the leading female role of the First Chorus
and Allan Glassman is the Herald. General Manager Ian Campbell stages the
production and the conductor is Donato Renzetti.

Mr. Furlanetto writes: "Murder in the Cathedral is a wonderful
theater' piece commissioned by the Canterbury Cathedral itself and it has
been a very fortunate subject for a movie as well. In 1953 Ildebrando
Pizzetti composed his opera on this subject, being also extremely
faithful, in his libretto, to T.S. Elliot's best-selling book. It is
based on a real event that occurred during the controversy between the
English monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church which led to the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket after his Christmas sermon in 1070."

"In the Pizzetti work, the character of Thomas Becket is an extremely
demanding role, vocally and physically. It is basically a one-man show in
which the Archbishop, who has returned to England after a voluntary exile
of seven years in France, faces a tremendous decision. He had been a
successful politician and a high-ranking personality in the Kingdom when
he decided to embrace the Catholic faith and become a priest. Now he had
to decide whether to kneel in front of the king or to assert the power of
the Church over the power of the monarchy. Becket knew that the second
choice would have meant a terrible clash with the royal institution but
this choice was the only one left to a man of his integrity. This role is
really fascinating because of the multiple aspects of Becket's
personality and the troubled decision, which would bring him to

"The dramatic character of Thomas Becket is equally supported by the
characteristics of an intense vocal line applied to a splendid, deeply
intellectual text. The scene and aria that ends the first act is one of
the most rewarding moments of the operatic repertoire and a unique
privilege for the interpreter. I am very grateful to the San Diego Opera
to have made this possible. It is a very courageous choice and I am sure
that it will be rewarded by the San Diego audience which is one of the
most refined in the States, and by the national and international
attention that is being paid to this event."

"For me, after the tremendous joy and satisfaction of once again
assuming this role, it will be another splendid occasion to be in my
favorite spot on the planet, an area where I had so many enjoyable events
and situations and where I can count on a great number of friends who
always let me feel always their warmth and affection."

Ms. Neves writes: "I think the plot of Murder in the Cathedral is
very current. There has always been discord between Church and state and
it is still happening today. There are always religious fanatics that
believe they are fulfilling God's will when they randomly kill people who
do not believe as they do. The opera does not focus on the differences
between the King and Becket, per se, but more on the murder itself. As
one of only two female characters in the opera, I feel the First
Chorister is the voice of the people. They are fearful for their beloved
Archbishop and also, as women, feel the grief and desolation of the
injustice of the murder to come and the religious unrest in their

"The role is different from most of the other operas in my
repertoire. The First Chorister is the spokeswoman of the female
chorus and as we know, the Church is a male dominated entity. I am
looking forward to singing a role where I comment on the action
instead of being a part of it. Musically, it is beautiful to sing. As I
mentioned before, I am thrilled to make my debut in San Diego and I am
looking forward to working with Ian Campbell and Maestro Renzetti."

Performances are Saturday, March 30th; Tuesday, April 2nd; Friday the
5th; and Sunday, April 7th.

For it's season finale, San Diego Opera presents Verdi's magnificent Aida
in a setting by fabulous colorist Zandra Rhodes whose vivid, monumental
designs enhance Verdi’s vision of ancient Egypt and make this an
unforgettable production. These brilliant sets and beautifully detailed
costumes follow the lead of Egyptian museum pieces. This production,
which has been feted in London, San Francisco, and Houston, will be seen
in San Diego for the first time. Rising American star soprano Latonia
Moore will be the Aida, the Ethiopian Princess who loves the Egyptian
general. Italian tenor Walter Fraccaro sings Radames, the general, and
the Met's wonderful mezzo, Jill Groves is Amneris. Andrew Sinclair will
direct and Daniele Callegari will conduct. Performances are April 20th,
23rd, 26th, and 28th.

Maria Nockin

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