Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pocket Opera

Donald Pippin's marvelous Pocket Opera has announced its new season. It doesn't look like the economy is especially affecting them. They'll be performing the usual range of works, Handel, Rossini, Offenbach, Donizetti, Bizet, Moniuszko...oh, you say you've never heard of Moniuszko? He was a mid-19th century Polish composer, somewhat in the bel canto style, but samples I've heard are more interesting than that. Pocket Opera is performing The Haunted Manor, of which there is a commercial recording. Clips I've heard are intriguing, and Opera News liked the recording; it's been on my to-buy list for years. I doubt it's been performed in the United States. Viewed with a reverence second only to Chopin? I am so there!

Also new this year: performances at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley! That will make it much easier for me to attend. I love the theater in the Palace of the Legion of Honor (where high costs drove out SF Lyric Opera last year), but it's a schlep for me, as is the Napa Valley Opera House.

Here's the full schedule, yes, most of the press release:

La Belle Helene – Offenbach

The inside story, somehow overlooked by Homer, of how, with the help of that capriciously relentless goddess of love, Venus, Prince Paris of Troy succeeded in seducing beautiful Helen.

Cast - Helene: Megan Stetson, Oreste: Rose Frazier, Calchas: Nicolas Aliga (also directs this production)

Feb 21, Sat. Julia Morgan Theater
March 1, Sun. Legion of Honor
March 8, Sun. Legion of Honor

March 15th, Sun. Napa Valley Opera House

La Favorita – Donizetti

Donizetti soars to lyrical heights in this powerful Spanish-tinged story of love thwarted. What starts with betrayal, ends in triumph. Affirmed by no less a critic then George Bernard Shaw as “a masterpiece”.

Cast - Leonora: Rachel Michelberg, Ferdinand: Brian Thorsett, Inez: Heidi Moss, King Alfonso: Lee Strawn

March 29, Sun. Legion of Honor
April 4, Sat. Legion of Honor
April 5, Sun. Julia Morgan Theater

The Haunted Manor – Moniuszko

A buoyant and colorful comedy, by a composer revered in Poland as second only to Chopin, begins in a burst of patriotic fervor when two young soldiers who are brothers, vow to remain single in order to be instantly available to answer the summons of duty – a not unlikely possibility in their perennially besieged homeland. Their determination shifts radically after an eventful night spent in a reputedly haunted house, as plotted by two lively and somewhat mischievous ladies.

Cast - Anna: Patrycja Poluchowicz, Frederich: Todd Donovan, Clotilda: Meghan Dibble, Damazy: Michael Mendelsohn, Georgina: Heidi Waterman

April 19, Sun. Legion of Honor
April 26, Sun. Legion of Honor
May 9, Sat. Julia Morgan Theater

Alcina – Handel (In Italian)

Alcina, the beautiful, powerful and malevolent sorceress who turns her cast off lovers into wild beasts, loses her magical powers when she fails passionately, helplessly in love.

Cast – Alcina: Marcelle Dronkers, Oronte: Brian Thorsett, Ruggiero: Elspeth Franks, Bradamante: Heidi Waterman, Morgana: Ayelet Cohen

May 3, Sun. Legion of Honor

The Barber of Seville – Rossini

The first chapter of The Marriage of Figaro. Aided by the ever resourceful Figaro, young impassioned Count Almaviva sets out to rescue lovely Rosina from the tightened clutches of irascible old Doctor Bartola.

Cast - Rosina: Kindra Scharich, Count Almaviva: Brian Thorsett, Dr. Bartolo: Lee Strawn

June 6, Sat. Legion of Honor
June 7, Sun. Julia Morgan Theater
June 14, Sun Legion of Honor
June 21, Sun, Napa Valley Opera House

Carmen – Bizet

Don Jose catches a flower by a hypnotically seductive gypsy named Carmen and his fate is sealed, Surrendering to passion he abandons all, only to be abandoned in turn when Carmentseeks new excitement in the arms of a dashing bullfighter.

Cast - Carmen: Kathleen Moss, Don Jose: Adam Flowers, Michaela: Nancy Cooke Munn, Escamillo: Sascha Joggerst
July 12, Sun. Legion of Honor
July 18, Sat. Legion of Honor
July 19, Sun. Legion of Honor
July 26, Sun. Napa Valley Opera House


www.pocketopera.org or 415-972-8930


Legion of Honor, 34th Ave and Lincoln Park, San Francisco

Napa Valley Opera House, 1030 Main Street, Napa

Julia Morgan Center for the Arts,2640 College Ave, Berkeley


David Scott Marley said...

> I doubt it's been performed in the United States.

The Haunted Manor has been performed by Berkeley Opera, though it was at least 15 years ago.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks! And I heard from Pocket that there was a production in NY state many years ago, also.