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Edition Viva Voce, March 2018

The Opera Guild of Rochester, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to support opera and opera education in the greater Rochester area.

The Guild presents free opera lectures at local libraries, tours to productions of local opera companies and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and our popular Beat-the-Blahs, Haskell Rosenberg Memorial Series, at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Brighton.

This newsletter is sent via eMail each month, currently to over 3,000 subscribers.  For a free subscription send your contact details, including your eMail address, to

Our Website and Facebook pages serve as a clearinghouse for local and regional opera, concert, and recital information, with links to other music organizations in our area. Please visit our Website at   

For up-to-date information on opera-related news and events, please visit us on

Reader Article submission deadline for the next issue is the 15th of the previous month.


March 3, Puccini's Tosca
March 4, Afternoon Concert with Rebecca Penneys, Stefan Reuss, and Mikhail Kopelman
March 5, Lecture: Mozart's le nozze di Figaro
March 6, Puccini's Tosca
March 10, Semiramide
March 12, Lecture: Obsessive Love in Massenet's Operas 
March 19, Lecture: Verdi's La traviata
March 26, Lecture: Puccini's Don Carlo
March 31, Così fan tutte

SaveTheDateSave the Dates!

On April 11 and June 13 the Opera Guild will sponsor two "Bravo Nights" at the Little Café from 7 to 9 PM.  Live accompanied singers will perform opera favorites in an informal atmosphere.  Come have fun with us, it's **free** and open to the public.

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EastmanOpera2017-2018Eastman Opera
2017-2018 Calendar

The Light in the Piazza *
by Adam Guettel  and Craig Lucas
Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer
April 5, 6, 7 at 7:30 p.m.
April 8 at 2:00 p.m.
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
May 5 at 7:30 p.m.
May 6 at 2:00 p.m.
804 Black Box Theatre

*Tickets sold through the
Eastman Theatre Box Office
433 East Main St., Rochester NY
Pre-performance Talks one hour
before each Eastman Opera Theatre
performance except April 5
Information about upcoming
Eastman concerts and events can be found at


Granger Eastman Salon Series
The Granger Eastman Salon Series seeks to provide an encouraging performance space for Eastman voice students in the greater Rochester area. This semester's recitals are as follows: 
March 23rd at 8pm: The Light in the Piazza: A Night of Musical Theatre 
April 27th at 8pm: Songs of Summer

Performances will be held at
Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum,
295 N Main St, Canandaigua, NY 14424
(585) 394-1472
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Enjoy the opera at The Little! Here is the 2017-18 Royal Opera House lineup

Puccini's Tosca

Saturday, Mar 3, 12 PM
Tuesday, Mar 6, 6 PM

Join fellow opera fans for informal discussion at a Meet-Up in the café after the Saturday screening

Bizet's Carmen

Saturday, Apr 14, 12 PM
Wednesday, Apr 18, 6 PM

Verdi's Macbeth

Sunday, May 27, 12 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 6 PM

For more information Click Here


2017-2018 'Doomed Divas' season!
Puccini's Madama Butterfly (Opera Guild spring trip)
April 13 at 8 PM
April 15 at 2 PM

Soprano Toni Marie Palmertree, having debuted the role of Butterfly at San Francisco Opera in 2016, will reprise the role for Syracuse Opera. CNY native Dinyar Vania returns to play Pinkerton, with baritone Troy Cook (Eugene Onegin) as Sharpless, the American Consul. Glenn Lewis of Pittsburgh Opera will conduct, with Alison Moritz making her Syracuse Opera debut as stage director.

For more information about the trip to Madama Butterfly Click Here.

Tickets from $26 to $206, student tickets, $10.
To buy tickets call (315) 476.7372 or go to
Tri-Cities Logo

      2017 - 2018 Season

Peter Brook and Georges Bizet The Tragedy of Carmen
April 27, May 4, 7:30 PM
April 29, May 6, 3:00 PM
Tri-Cities Opera Center

For tickets and information call (607) 772-0400 or go to


Brighton Memorial Library
2300 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618


Mar. 5 - Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro
Peter Dundas
Mar. 12 - Obsessive Love in Massenet's Operas
( Click Here for an essay on Jules Massenet)
Agneta Borgstedt
Mar. 19 - Verdi's La traviata (Who Was She? Among Other Questions Answered)
Carol Crocca
Mar. 26 - Verdi's Don Carlo
Rosalba Pisaturo

MetHD17-18Metropolitan Opera HD Season 2017-2018

See our docents' essays on the composer and background of the operas in the Viva Voce issue published in the beginning of the broadcast month. These essays can also be found on our Website.  Click Here to peruse the collection.  

Gioachino Rossini, Semiramide

Sat, Mar 10, 2018 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
Its first appearance at the Met in almost 25 years, starring Angela Meade as Semiramide, the murderous Queen of Babylon, Elizabeth DeShong as Arsace, Javier Camarena (the current "King of the High C's") as Idreno, Ildar Abdrazakov as Assur and Ryan Green as Mitrane. Maurizio Benini will conduct.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Così fan tutte
Sat, Mar 31, 2018 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
A new production by Phelim McDermott set in Coney Island in the 1950's, starring Amanda Majeski as Fiordiligi, Serena Malfi as Dorabella, Broadway star Kelli O'Hara as Despina, Ken Bliss as Ferrando, Adam Plachetka as Guglielmo and Christopher Maltman as Don Alfonso. David Robertson will conduct.

Amusing cartoon synopsis: Click Here

Giuseppe Verdi, Luisa Miller
Sat, Apr 14, 2018 12:30 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
Its first Met performance in more than 10 years, starring Sonya Yoncheva as Luisa, Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo, Olesya Petrova as Federica, Placido Domingo as Miller, Alexander Vinogradov as Walter and Dmitry Belosselskiy as Wurm. James Levine will conduct.

Jules Massenet, Cendrillon
Sat, Apr 28, 2018 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
Its premier at the Met in an imaginative, new storybook production by Laurent Pelly, starring Joyce DiDonato as Cendrillon (Cinderella), Alice Coote (in a trouser role) as Prince Charming, Kathleen Kim as the Fairy Godmother and Stephanie Blythe as Madame de la Haltiere. Bertrand de Billy will conduct.


Lotte Lenya Competition

April 14, 2018
Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music

Finals usually 11 am to 4 pm; evening concert and announcement of winners.

All free and open to the public.

2018 is the 20th anniversary of the Lotte Lenya Competition, an international event intended to identify and nurture the next generation of performers who are multi-trained and -gifted in opera and musical theater.

The talent and versatility these young artists display is truly amazing.  At the day-time performance, each must present a number from each of the following: opera or operetta, the works of Kurt Weill, a pre-1968 musical; a post-1968 musical.  

This year, the semifinalists will perform in New York City for judges Lisa Vroman, musical theater star, and Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori.  In Rochester, the finals round will be judged by Tony Award-winning actress and singer Victoria Clark, opera and music theater conductor James Holmes, and Broadway director, producer and author Jack Viertel.  A total of $75,000 in prize money will be awarded.

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The Nightingale and Other Short Fables
APRIL 13 TO MAY 19, 2018
Anna Bolena
APRIL 28 TO MAY 26, 2018

To buy individual or subscription tickets Click Here



1441 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14610

Sundays at 2 pm.  March 4, April 8

Rebecca Penneys, piano
Stefan Reuss, cello
Mikhail Kopelman, violin

Doors open at 1:15. Tickets are $35 at the door for non-members and subscriptions are available.

Go to or contact Lydia N.C. Nicolson at 585-271-1314 or for more information.



Saturday, April 28, 7:30 pm
Temple B'rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester

The 12th annual voice competition, featuring 9 finalists performing opera, art song, and oratorio. Distinguished judges offer constructive commentary to these young artists, and Julia Figueras of WXXI emcees the event.

Tickets ($75) are available online  click here.  
Or through the ROS Box Office, (585) 473-2234.

Contact the office for tables of up to 8 guests.

FEOWinnersFEO Voice Competition Winners

First Place: Maria Vasilevskaya, mezzo-soprano, a native of Siberia, will be a soloist in the performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah this May at Kodak Hall.

Second Place: Maire Carmack, mezzo-soprano, a native of Seattle, will sing the role of Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza this April.

Third place: Athene Tsz Wai Mok, soprano, sang Poppea in L'incoronazione di Poppea and La Fee in Cendrillon for Eastman Opera and was the winner of the 2013-14 concerto competition.

Honorable Mention: Brianna J. Robinson, soprano, sang Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea, and was chosen to be the soprano soloist in the Brahm's Requiem with the RPO.

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Thanks to those who responded to our call for support of Viva Voce.

As an Amici, your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated. All donation levels  receive an invitation to the Annual Recital (see the following article); those listed below will be given priority until a date specified on the invitation.   

Chorus: $60-$99
Comprimario: $100-$149, one additional recital invitation.
Primo: $150-$199, $20 discount on trip (except to New York City).
Maestro: $200-$299, $30 discount on trip (except to New York City).
Impresario: $300 or more, $30 discount on trip (except to New York City); two additional recital invitations. 
To donate online go to and scroll down until you find the PayPal link.

You may also mail a check to Opera Guild of Rochester, P.O. Box 92245, Rochester, NY 14692-0245. Please include an email or other address for your tax receipt.

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OGRAnnualRecitalOpera Guild of Rochester Annual Recital for Donors

Sunday May 20, 2018, 2 p.m.
Rochester Academy of Medicine, 1441 East Ave.

Mark Daniels
This year our recitalist is tenor Mark Daniels, accompanied by pianist Rob Goodling.

Mr Daniels is a versatile tenor who hails from Kennebunk, Maine. His early studies were with David Goulet in Portland, Maine, where he made his professional debut as Charlie Dalrymple in Lerner and Loewe's Brigadoon. Mr. Daniels continued his studies at the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Rita Shane, where he made his Eastman Opera Theater operatic debut as Sam in Carlisle Floyd's Susannah. He performed the role of Ferrando in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte in Urbania, Italy, with Benton Hess's Oberlin in Italy program and again in Buffalo, New York, with Buffalo Opera Unlimited. Other roles have included Danilo in Lehar's The Merry Widow with Buffalo Opera Unlimited, Nemorino in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore with Genesse Valley Orchestra and Chorus, and Bingley in the world premier performance and recording of Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Warren Baker's Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Daniels was the tenor soloist in J. S. Bach's Magnificat with the Finger Lakes Chorale under the direction of John Walker, and Great Lakes Productions created a show around him called " A Tenor," which he preformed for two years throughout the Rochester area and upstate New York with the "Tuscan Trio and Two Sopranos."

Mark Daniels' recital will include tenor arias by Donizetti, Tchaikovsky and Verdi as well as a collection of Neapolitan folk songs.

ReaderArticlesOpera Essays

This section brings you articles written by Opera Guild docents, previously distributed at HD performances. Other essays previously published as Reader Articles are also published in this section. All these essays are also available on the Website in the Reading Room.   

SemiramideSemiramide, the Culmination of an Italian Career 
Carol Crocca
Zingarelli, Nicolini, Mayr, Gazzaniga, Portogallo, Orlandi, Pollini, Puscita, Nasolini, Mosca - these were the composers whose works were presented in the 1800-1801 season at La Scala.  Of the most popular composers of the late 18th century (Mozart not among them), Piccinni and Cimarosa were dead and the active career of Paisiello, composer of the original Barber of Seville, was over.  Other Italian composers had established themselves abroad. It was not the finest hour of opera in Italy: according to Julian Budden, Norton History of Opera, p.168, "the prevailing idiom inclined to monotonous mellifluity."  Rossini was 8 years old.

By the time he was 21 he had exploded on the scene.  In 1813 two operas in particular, Tancredi, an opera seria, and L'italiana in Algerie, a comedy, established him as a maestro di cartello, a composer whose name alone guaranteed an audience for any new production.  In addition to his gifts for melody, rhythm and orchestral color, Rossini transformed the structures of Italian opera, providing a model that was ignored by other composers at their peril in the ensuing decades. He composed 39 operas in 19 years, and retired at a time when Romantic opera was beginning to demand a type of more dramatic singer, different from the light, flexible voices of the bel canto style required by his works.     

In 1815, Rossini signed a contract with the San Carlo Theater in Naples that allowed him to produce operas for other cities as well. He was based in Naples until 1822, but during this time he wrote Barbiere and Cenerentola for Rome and La gazza ladra for Milan.

During these years he continued to define his style.  His vocal line became more ornate, but unlike former composers, he wrote out the embellishments for his singers. The embellishments themselves became part of his musical thought, helping express a range of moods from amusement to flirtatiousness to triumph and sadness. He consolidated and refined the trends in opera which made the basic unit of composition the scene rather than the alternation of aria or ensemble and recitative. In the Rossini scena, dramatic events took place during an often extended aria, duet and/or chorus, advancing the trend toward the integration of the music and the drama, the latter formerly carried only by the recitative.  Along the way, Rossini abandoned barely-accompanied recitative in favor of orchestral accompaniment and even essayed into the territory of tragedy, providing both a tragic and a seria ending for his Tancredi and Otello.  (In the 18th century, all operas, both comic and serious had happy endings, at least for the protagonists that deserved them.) The era of the castrati was over, but in Italy the allure of the high-voiced hero was perpetuated by contraltos or mezzos in travesti, like Arsace in Semiramide. In his dedication to form, balance, and contrast, Rossini was neo-classical, but he prepared the way for many developments of the Romantic period to come.

After his time in Naples, Rossini had a successful season in Vienna and returned to compose Semiramide for Venice's La Fenice at his country home outside Bologna.  It is Rossini's last opera in Italian and his last written in Italy.

Semiramide does not include so many ensembles as had become usual for Rossini. However, most significant dramatic events, such as the appearance of the dead king's ghost, do occur in one of the three great ensembles, namely, the introduction and the Act I and Act II finales.  Memorable melodies are found in the cabalettas (second, faster sections) of the duets for Arsace and Assur, and Semiramide and Arsace in Act I.  The finale of that act encompasses the appearance of the ghost of the dead king Nino, and the musical idea associated with Nino is recalled in Act II.  Assur's mad scene just preceding the Act II finale is full of original musical and dramatic effects, effectively conveying his disordered emotions. The opera was a great success, was presented all over Europe, and unlike Rossini's other serious operas, remained in production for most of the 19th century.

Epilogue.  Rossini spent some time in London, then settled in Paris as Director of the Theatre-Italien, where his operas formed the backbone of the repertory.  New (or revised old) operas were written in French. His one entirely new work was Guillaume Tell (1839), considered a masterpiece in which the elements of French and Italian style are beautifully integrated.  After Tell, he retired from writing for the stage and died in 1868.

While The Barber of Seville has been in the repertory since its premiere, Rossini's other operas, especially the serious ones, were forgotten with the advent of Romanticism and the change in singing associated with it.  Singers were no longer trained in the bel canto style and these works were very difficult to mount because of their length and the number of excellent singers required.  It wasn't until the 1950's that the Fondazione Rossini, located in Pesaro, the composer's birthplace, precipitated an interest in reviving his work. During the 1980's, critical editions of the operas began to be published. Talented singers began to be trained, and since then some of the best singers specialize in this repertory. Its lovely melodies and beautiful writing for the voice, to say nothing of the wit and zaniness of the comedies, inspire gratitude to those who were dedicated to this legacy. 

For another article on Rossini and his muse, Isabella Colbran, Click Here

MassenetJules Massenet
Agneta D. Borgstedt, MD

Massenet was one of the most prominent French composers of the period between 1867 and his death in 1912.  He was a child prodigy and was admitted at 9 years of age to France's principal music college, the Paris Conservatoire.  He studied under Ambroise Thomas and received the Prix de Rome in 1863.  Though he composed in several different genres, he is best known for his more than thirty operas.

Like his mentor, he became Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire, and taught there from 1878 to1896.   He resigned after Thomas' death and then lived part of the year in Monaco, where Prince Albert I was a prominent supporter of the arts and the director of the Opera Monte Carlo, which produced many of Massenet's operas.

His most successful ones are Manon (1884), Werther (1892), Thais (1894) Cendrillon (1899), and Don Quichotte (1910).

Massenet traveled widely, but preferred to live quietly in his Paris home or his country estate, Egreville. He was somewhat withdrawn and modest, liked his privacy and often avoided the first nights of a new opera.  He met his wife Ninon in Rome when he studied there and they married in 1866. Their only child Juliette was born in 1868. He enjoyed his grandchildren in later life.

Massenet's composing style was influenced by Gounod, Thomas, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, and Verdi.   He never fully fell under Wagner's spell, but took from the earlier operas the richness of orchestration and the fluency of musical themes.  Like other composers of his time, he liked to set his operas in exotic places such as ancient Egypt, mythical Greece, biblical Galilee, and India.  Some of the singers he worked with were Sibyl Sanderson, Emma Calve, Mary Garden and Lucy Arbell.  Massenet had crushes on many of them, though there is no direct evidence that he neglected his wife Ninon.

In 2012-13, Massenet was the fourth most popular French composer after Bizet, Offenbach and Gounod.  At the lecture, excerpts from the five operas mentioned will be presented.

Carol Crocca

I have sometimes wondered why I have never seen this opera advertised primarily by an English translation of its title. Perhaps it's because Così fan tutte, unless translated awkwardly and incorrectly, as it sometimes is, gives little information about the subject of the opera. It probably implied much more to its 18th century audience, however, because testing a woman's fidelity, or the lack of it, was a subject ad nauseam of opera, fable, literature and the stage in general up to and including that time.  The theme goes back to the Roman poet Ovid, the 16th century Italian poet Ariosto, and was also used by Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Boccaccio.  This opera was commissioned by the Emperor Joseph of Austria, at whose court Mozart and librettist Da Ponte were employed, and the Emperor may also have suggested the theme.

The title, however, was chosen by Mozart and it came from Act I of The Marriage of Figaro.  Count Almaviva is relating how, in his recent visit to Barbarina's house, he removed the tablecloth to reveal Cherubino, the randy adolescent, hiding beneath the furniture.  As he now lifts the dress covering a chair to illustrate his story - Voila! There is Cherubino hiding again!  The music master remarks, "Così fan tutte le belle. Non c'e alcuna novita."  (Thus do all beautiful women. This is not anything new.")  Never mind that it is Cherubino who is caught for the second time.  As usual, the women get the blame: Così fan tutti gli uomini (men).

It is justly considered a misogynistic theme, but there is a nod to fair play in Despina's remarks to the sisters when she expresses total surprise at the idea that soldiers having gone off to war would be faithful to their sweethearts back home. "Di pasta simile son tutti quanti," she says, "They are all made of the same stuff."

One prominent characteristic of the opera is the alternation of parodistic and serious treatment of the material.  Parody of opera seria was a staple of opera buffa.  In the first duet, we meet the sisters mooning over their lovers, and their exaggerated delight in their lovers' charms gives way to a paean to love itself.   The parody continues with Dorabella's extremely dramatic response to the news that the men have been called to war.  And Fiordiligi's adamant insistence at the beginning of the deception that the women will be like rock in their fidelity merely sets them up for a harder fall from grace later on.

In addition, there are buffa shenanigans in the episode of the mock poisonings, and Dorabella's seduction (in Mozart's seduction key of A major; cf. Don Giovanni) with its delightful heartbeat motif.  We know that she is the less serious sister of the two, and her new partner, Guglielmo, has not really fallen for her.  But being Mozart, the composer is about to engage our more serious emotions.  Fiordiligi's "Per pieta" expresses her genuine distress at the crack in her emotional armor occasioned by Ferrando's wooing.  Unlike her sister, she intends to do something about it: join her fiancé at the front disguised in one of his uniforms.  When Ferrando appears, the music tells us that she genuinely responds to his moving plea.  In my favorite version of the opera, we are left in no doubt that they are sincerely in love.  (Director's choice here.  If Ferrando immediately runs off to gloat at his triumph with Don Alfonso and Guglielmo in the background, for example, that's another interpretation.)  

The sincerity of their feelings makes the subsequent revelations that much more painful and confusing.  Don Alfanso, a character more akin to Da Ponte than to the composer, advises, "See the humor here!" Despite the philosophic attitude urged by that old Enlightenment paragon, the school of experience has created some sadder but wiser lovers who are probably not grateful for the lesson.  That's why we don't say, "Oh, that cynical Mozart!"  

For more about Mozart, see "Mozart's Magic," "Idomeneo's Vow," and "Mozart: The Man and the Myth" in the Opera Essays section of the Reading Room at our website.

From your Opera Guild 
Dear Opera Lovers,

This year the Finger Lakes Opera is expanding its contribution to opera in our region by inaugurating a Young Artists Program.  This kind of program, similar to an internship, allows aspiring singers to gain experience in the real world of opera production.  Gerard Floriano, FLO's Artistic Director, has already auditioned many candidates in the New York City area, and that process continues.  The Young Artists selected will be performing a full 'opera scenes' program this summer and will have various other opportunities for coaching, training, and participation in FLO's main presentation, Die Fledermaus, and the children's opera Little Red's Most Unusual Day. This is a tuition-based program, also offering scholarship assistance, which provides an excellent opportunity for those wishing to support young talent. The Guild is excited about this news, and the good things it augurs for Finger Lakes Opera's development as a professional opera company in the Rochester area. 

Computer Skills Needed

Electronically publishing the newsletter requires a few fairly sophisticated computer skills and we are fortunate to have two accomplished volunteers working in this capacity.  But since it is a job requiring 2-3 days per month on a regular basis, two technical publishers are not enough to make sure we have coverage for times of illness, vacation, computer malfunction, etc.  If you have computer skills, please consider helping with this valuable project, even if you cannot, or would prefer not, to work every month.  Thanks for your consideration!  Just see the beginning of the newsletter to find a job description and how to let us know of your interest.

Please consider the Opera Guild of Rochester among your charitable organizations for 2018. Donations to the Opera Guild of Rochester are fully tax deductible and donors will receive an invitation to the Annual Recital in May 2018, which includes a dessert reception with the artists.

To donate online Click Here. Be sure to scroll down until you find the PayPal link.

Enjoy our free Lecture/Listening series, which you can download from the Website at by clicking on Reading Room. While at our Website you can also learn about our opera program at Temple B'rith Kodesh, our opera trips to regional opera companies including the Glimmerglass Festival, and our Metropolitan Opera trips.

Cindy New Ad 2016

Submission deadline for the next issue is the 15th of the previous month

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