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Edition Viva Voce, October 2017

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.

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

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

The Opera Guild of Rochester is also on Facebook. 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.


October 20, 2017, 6-8 pm
Max of Eastman Place
25 Gibbs Street

Olando Diaz is a Rochester-based award-winning pianist and composer, who has written an opera, Adventure Gospel based on the strange but true story of a man who in 1986 abandoned his life to spend the next 27 years in the woods of North Pond, Maine.  (For more about the story click here.)

Garrett Wellenstein conducts, and Emily Cuk is the director, with performances by Eastman musicians.  Be among the first to hear this new work by an experienced man of the theater!

A dinner catered by Max's is included with the price of the ticket, which is $35 before Oct. 1 and $40 after Oct. 1.  Go to Eventbrite link.
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EastmanOpera2017-2018Eastman Opera
2017-2018 Calendar

by W. S. Gilbert & Arthur Sullivan
October 8th at 2:00 p.m.
Hochstein Music School - OrKIDStra Series

L'incoronazione di Poppea* (1642)
by Claudio Monteverdi and G. F. Busenello
November 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m.
November  5  at 2:00 p.m.
Kilbourn Hall
Les Enfants Terribles* (1996)
by Philip Glass and Susan Marshall
Adapted from the Jean Cocteau Novel and 1950 French Film
February 1, 2, 3 at 7:30 p.m.
February 4 at 2:00 p.m.
804 Black Box Theatre
Friends of Eastman Opera
Voice Competition
February 9 at 8:00 p.m.
Kilbourn Hall
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


341 Delaware Ave
by Donizetti
A hilarious comic opera about a young man who wants to win over the woman he loves and the con artist who sells him the perfect potion to do it. 
Valerian Ruminski as Dulcamara
Karen D'Angelo as Adina
Jim Judd as Nemerino
Conducted by Matt Marco
A full chorus
TICKETS $25 plus fee
for info call 716 2222 3969

2017-2018 'Doomed Divas' season!
Bizet's Carmen
Oct 20 at 8 PM
Oct 22 at 2 PM

Directed and choreographed by Syracuse's own Anthony Salatino. Syracuse Opera opens its 43rd season with an audience favorite. Christian Capocaccia (Rigoletto) returns to conduct the instantly recognizable score.

The principle roles have been announced:
    Venessa Cariddi as Carmen
    Noah Stewart as Don José
    Luis Orozco as Escamillo
    Jennifer Goode Cooper as Micaëla

Verdi's La traviata
Feb 2 at 8 PM
Feb 4 at 2 PM

Soprano Raquel Gonzalez and tenor Andrew Maughan (Eugene Onegin) return to bring Verdi's gorgeous score to life. Directed by Stephanie Havey (Rigoletto) and conducted by Christian Capocaccia.

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.

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

      2017 - 2018 Season

Giacomo Puccini La Bohème
October 15, 3pm
The Forum Theatre
236 Washington St.
Binghamton, NY 13901

Tom Cipullo Glory Denied
November 10, 17  7:30 PM
November 12, 19  3:00 PM
Tri-Cities Opera Center
Savoca Hibbitt Hall
315 Clinton St
Binghamton, NY 13905

Terrence McNally Master Class
February 23, 24  7:30 PM
February 25, 3:00 PM
Tri-Cities Opera Center

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

MetTourMetropolitan Opera 2017 Fall Tour

The Guild organizes informal group trips to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The Guild will buy tickets and make group hotel and restaurant reservations. Participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements.

Click here to download a PDF information file which also includes the registration form.

Bellini's Norma   Wednesday, October 11, 2017
New production with Sondra Radvanovsky (Norma), Joyce DiDonato (Adalgisa), Joseph Calleja (Pollione), Matthew Rose (Oroveso)     Conductor: Carlo Rizzi

Puccini's Turandot    Thursday, October 12, 2017
This is the Met's spectacular, not-to-be-missed production of Puccini's last opera. With Oksana Dyka (Turandot), Maria Agresta (Liu), Marcelo Álvarez (Calaf ), James Morris (Timur)     Conductor:Carlo Rizzi

Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann  Friday, October 13, 2017
With Erin Morley (Olympia), Anita Hartig (Antonia/Stella), Oksana Volkova (Giulietta), Tara Erraught (Nicklausse/The Muse), Vittorio Grigolo (Hoffmann), Christophe Mortagne (Four Servants), Laurent Naouri (Four Villains)     Conductor: Johannes Debus

Additional Information:

You can choose one, two or all three operas! We will order opera tickets in the price range of your choice, reserve hotel rooms, make arrangements for pre-performance dinners, and book your flight, if requested.

Our hotel will be the Watson Hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn) on 57th St. between 9th and 10th Avenues. You are welcome to make your own hotel arrangements. If you desire to share a room, it is your responsibility to find a roommate. Individual hotel bills are to be paid at check-out. (It is possible that we may be able to negotiate an attractive group rate. If so, registered attendees will be notified.)

Opera tickets have to be paid at the time of your order. We will pay the restaurant checks and bill you later. Travel arrangements to New York City are the responsibility of the participants. If you need help with airline reservations, call Helga Strasser at (585) 586-2274 or e-mail

If you'd like to take a Met Opera Backstage Tour, please indicate on the reservation form. The tours start at 3:30 pm and last about 1½ hours. The price is about $16.00.

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.

Vincenzo Bellini, Norma
Sat, Oct 07, 2017 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
A new production by Sir David McVicar, starring Sondra Radvanovsky (who played all three of Donizetti's queens at the Met last year) as Norma, Joyce DiDonato as Adalgisa, and Joseph Calleja as Pollione. Carlo Rizzi will conduct.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Die Zauberflöte
Sat, Oct 14, 2017 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
A full-length German version of Julie Taymor's famous production, starring Golda Schultz as Pamina, Kathryn Lewek as the Queen of the Night, Charles Castronovo as Tamina, Markus Werba as Papageno and Rene Papé as Sarastro. James Levine will conduct.

Thomas Adès, The Exterminating Angel
Sat, Nov 18, 2017 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
The American premier inspired by the Luis Bunuel film of the same name. It is a surreal fantasy about a dinner party from which the guests cannot escape. The composer (who also wrote The Tempest) will conduct.

Giacomo Puccini, Tosca
Sat, Jan 27, 2018 12:55 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
A new production by Sir David McVicar, starring Kristine Opolais as Tosca, Jonas Kaufmann as Cavaradossi and Byrn Terfel as Scarpia. Andris Nelsons will conduct.

Gaetano Donizetti, L'Elisir d'Amore

Sat, Feb 10, 2018 12:00 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
A Bartlett Sher production, starring Pretty Yende as Adina, Matthew Polenzani as Nemorino, David Luciano as Belcore, and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo as Dulcamara. Domingo Hindoyan will conduct.

Giacomo Puccini, La Bohème
Sat, Feb 24, 2018 12:30 PM
Synopsis and Cast: Click Here
Franco Zeffirelli's classic production, starring Sonya Yoncheva as Mimi, Susanna Phillips as Musetta, Michael Fabiano as Rodolfo and Lucas Meachem as Marcello. Marco Armiliato will conduct.

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.

Fun 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.


OCTOBER 5 TO 28, 2017
The Elixir of Love
The Abduction from the Seraglio
FEBRUARY 7 TO 24, 2018
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.  Oct. 22, Nov. 19, Jan. 21, 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.


As an Amici, your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated. All donation levels  receive an invitation to the Annual Recital; 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

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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ReaderArticlesMet Opera Essays

This section brings you articles written by Opera Guild docents. Previously distributed at HD performances, they are now published in Viva Voce in the beginning of the broadcast month, and are available on the Website. 

Portrait of Bellini
Vincenzo Bellini.
After an oil painting by Natale Schiavoni, 1830. Courtesy of the Sibley Music Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

WordsSetToMusicWords Set to Music
The Inspired Collaboration of Vincenzo Bellini and Felice Romano
Rachel Stuhlman

"Bellini is one of my predilections because his music is strongly felt and intimately bound up with the words."
-Richard Wagner

"[Bellini is] rich in feeling and in a melancholy entirely his own. Even in his less known operas... there are long, long, long melodies such as no one wrote before him. And how much truth and power of declamation there is..."
-Giuseppi Verdi

"A man who does not love Vincenzo Bellini does not love Music"
-Arrigo Boito

"Carve in your head in adamantine letters: the music drama must draw tears, inspire terror, make people die, through singing."
                                                                            -Vincenzo Bellini
If any Italian opera can be called "sublime," that opera is
Norma. It unites Classical nobility and restraint with the urgent passions of Romanticism. Dramatic vehemence is expressed in gorgeous bel canto singing. Above all this is an opera where music is inextricably bound to words.
Norma was the creation of two men working together: the young composer Vincenzo Bellini and his librettist Felice Romani. Romani was a seasoned man of the theatre, the finest poet of his day, an indefatigable writer whose talents were much in demand. In the course of a year he would produce five to seven libretti, frequently missing deadlines. Norma was his 65th libretto, and he lavished on it all his art, even delivering it on time.
Romani was the official librettist at La Scala, Milan's premier opera house, when he met the young and ambitious Vincenzo Bellini, newly arrived from Naples in April of 1827. Bellini had already composed two operas. Adelson e Salvini was his graduation piece after six years of study at the Naples Conservatory, and Bianca e Fernando debuted successfully at San Carlo in 1826.
There was an immediate rapport between the two men. Friendship and mutual respect led them to collaborate on seven operas between 1827 and 1833. Romani later wrote that "[From the first] we understood each other, and united we struggled against the vicious conventions of the musical theater, girding ourselves to eradicate them little by little by dint of courage and loving perseverance." This bond would be tested as they began working together.
Felice Romani devoted far more time to Bellini's operas than he did to the works for any other composer. The maestro demanded revision after revision, and the exasperated Romani obliged him. Autograph texts for successive drafts of Norma contain numerous corrections and instructions in Bellini's hand. Some changes were major, like Bellini's insistence that a verse be rewritten with a different number of syllables per line so that it followed the rhythm and cadence he intended, or when he struck out whole arias and ensembles. Other alterations were seemingly minor: in one such instance Bellini changed a single word from the conditional to the present tense to heighten the emotion. Romani also asserted himself, as when he adamantly refused Bellini's demand that "Casta Diva" and Norma's ensuing caballeta be followed with a prayer by Adalgisa. He rightly judged that two consecutive prayers would not work dramatically.
While Bellini was indeed inspired by Romani's verse, Norma was not created solely from the new libretto. At that time it was customary for composers, working under stringent deadlines, to repurpose their own music. Bellini was no exception. He too revisited his earlier work and tortured the words to fit existing melodies.
The notion that Felice Romani and Vincenzo Bellini labored side by side in perfect harmony is one of the myths that collected around Bellini after his death. Tensions between the perfectionist maestro and the self-important and contentious poet eventually came to a head after the fiasco of Beatrice di Tenda in 1833. Their nasty dispute was carried out publically in the newspapers, with escalating recriminations, character slurs and self-justifications. They never worked together again, though both men later regretted it. There was a rapprochement and plans for future collaborations after the desperate composer realized that he needed Romani's plots and words to create the kind of musical dramas he envisioned. But it never happened: Bellini died in Paris on September 23, 1835 at age 33. For the rest of his long life Romani would mourn this tragic loss.

MozartsMagicMozart's Magic  
Carol Crocca
Die Zauberflöte was written during the last year of Mozart's life, and its premiere took place just ten weeks before his death on December 5, 1791.  In German, with spoken dialogue, it was called a singspiel, which generally meant a dramatic work with spoken dialogue and many popular songs, and, occasionally, more ambitious music.  The Emperor Joseph II had tried to establish the genre at his court in Vienna, but his attempt failed. The singspiel continued to be enjoyed as a popular entertainment in theaters outside aristocratic patronage, although the audience frequently consisted of all classes.
Situated in the suburbs of the city, such was the Freihaustheater auf der Weiden for which the opera was written by its impresario Emmanuel Schikaneder.  Mozart had met Schikaneder in Salzburg; he was a one-man travelling theater, having filled the roles of playwright, composer, actor, singer, producer and manager in his long career.  He later wrote that he and Mozart had worked together on the opera, and its superiority over his other efforts testifies to this. He and Mozart were both Freemasons.  There is no doubt that the Temple Brotherhood in the opera represents the Order of Freemasonry, for the frontispiece of the original libretto was illustrated with Masonic symbols. 
According to Edward Dent (Mozart's Operas, Oxford University Press, 1947) the early history of Freemasonry is obscure but it eventually evolved into a social and philosophical society, described by Sir Alfred Robbins in English-Speaking Freemasonry (London, 1930) as
. . . [A]n organized system of morality, derived from divine wisdom and age-long experience, which, for preservation from outside assault and inner decay, is veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols.
The German definition defines a group of men who "work for the welfare of mankind, striving morally to ennoble themselves and others, and thereby to bring about a universal league of mankind, which they aspire to exhibit even now on a small scale." 
The movement was absolutely in tune with the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment, and extremely popular both for its high ethical ideals, and for the opportunity it provided for social climbers and careerists to mingle with the higher classes.  It was opposed by the Catholic Church for its pagan symbolism and its acceptance of men of all faiths on an equal basis; it was persecuted by Joseph II's mother, Mary, a devout Catholic.  Joseph, however, was not opposed, and the Masonic influence in Vienna was so strong that the papal bull against the order was not promulgated there.  Although Mozart himself was a Catholic, he had learned an extreme anti-clericalism from his father; on the other hand, he belonged to a lodge at which there was a strong Catholic influence and he was spared a conflict.
One lesson of The Magic Flute might be "Don't judge things by their first appearances."  The story begins with Prince Tamino on a chivalric quest to slay the serpent, and ends with a moral and philosophic quest for knowledge and wisdom.  The Queen of the Night is initially a distraught mother begging for the prince to rescue her abducted daughter, only to become the vengeful sorceress demanding that Pamina murder Sarastro.  Pamina herself begins as a frightened child seeking guidance, and ends as the one to lead Tamino through the trials.  (A definite departure from Freemasonry, which was clear in its insistence that women were lesser beings; thus Sarastro's admonishment to Pamina that she must be guided by men.)  The authoritarian Sarastro himself, who has failed to protect his charge from the evil intentions of his servant, Monostatos, must give up his own desire for Pamina, and cede moral leadership to the next generation.  And this ending is entirely in keeping with Mozart's belief in companionate marriage between two people who freely love and have chosen each other, celebrated in The Marriage of Figaro.
So many transformations led some commentators to believe that after Act I had been written the story was changed, while leaving the inconsistent first act intact.  But another take is that these transformations are deliberate, and are an allegory of the true nature of Freemasonry revealed against the slanders of its detractors.  Of course, the more universal story, carried by these archetypal characters, is the age-old one of the successful attainment of love and wisdom through the trial of goodness and strength.   
In any case, Die Zauberflöte was very popular, no doubt because of its magic elements, exoticism, colorful characters, and the comic relief provided by the Queen's ladies and Papageno, the Birdcatcher, which role was written by Shikaneder for himself.  Much simple and tuneful music co-exists with the serious and dramatic, including some taken from music Mozart had written previously for Masonic ceremonies.   The first time I heard this opera, I was put off by the chauvinism of Sarastro, and the fantastic nature of both plot and characters.  At the end, however, I was deeply moved - which could only have been Mozart's musical message working its magic.   
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VolunteerSpotlightVolunteer Spotlight
Mary Bonaccio

An interview with volunteer Mary Bonaccio who chairs the Communications Committee, by Carol Crocca, 

Carol: Mary, what brought you to Opera Guild of Rochester?

Mary: With our boys nearing college age, I anticipated having some time that I could offer to a non-profit organization. I found OGR through a Google search, and reached out to you to see what roles were available. I thought I might hand out flyers (which I do at Live in HD performances held at the AMC Webster location) just to meet new people.

CC: But then we discovered you had other talents. How has your role changed/expanded?

MB: My day job is with The Verdi Group, a marketing firm started by my husband Bob Green in 1995 (the "Verdi" while a tribute to Giuseppe Verdi, was mostly chosen for its Italian translation of his last name). I assist clients who want to gain and protect market share by developing direct marketing programs that help achieve their goals.

Opera Guild of Rochester had need for some of the same marketing building blocks. We seek to foster more engagement in opera in whatever form that represents our constituent's interest - attending performances, learning more about opera, composers and the context of each opera, etc. Pinpointing ways to reach new constituents and increasing our reach through Viva Voce are important things I work on.

CC: What activities are handled by the Communications Committee?

MB: Our recent constituent survey is a major initiative designed to help us understand our constituents' wants and needs.  We also have active volunteers who handle our PR efforts and our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Additional volunteers are always needed! (See Call for Volunteers in this issue.)

CC: Do you have a musical background?

MB: I don't! Other than some very early piano and guitar lessons, I am just someone who appreciates opera as an art form. BC - before children - we treated ourselves to the Met opening night event for several years. We also saw opera performances in Vienna, Budapest and Paris. And of course we support our vibrant local productions. Rochester is fortunate in having "operatunities" right here, including, Eastman Opera, Finger Lakes Opera, and the Met live telecasts each season in local theaters.  

CC:  Mary, you are such a valuable volunteer, for both your enthusiasm and your ability. Thank you.

From your Opera Guild 
Silvia,Margaret, Agneta, and Elizabeth
Pictured, left to right, are Sylvia Marshall, Margaret Dundas, Agneta Borgstedt, and Elizabeth Beumer, preparing a mailing to Opera Guild constituents including the brochure for the current season. Volunteers have opportunities to work together on projects of mutual interest.  

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 2017. 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.  

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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