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Edition Viva Voce, September 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.

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

LectureSeriesOpera Guild of Rochester Lecture/Listening Series
Fairport Library

Wednesday, September 12, "E Pluribis Unam: Opera Ensembles" Art Axelrod

Early opera was comprised primarily of solos and orchestral interludes. But in the middle of the 18th century, composers and librettists began to recognize and explore the unique and varied dramatic potential of ensembles of voices, resulting in more adventurous character groupings, vocal textures and formal structures. This lecture will explore some notable examples.

Wednesday, September 26, "Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro" Peter Dundas

An account of how Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte produced this opera, which is still one of the most popular on the opera stage today. The details of the plot will be illustrated by relevant video clips from the MET performance of November 1998, with Bryn Terfel, Cecilia Bartoli, Renee Fleming, Dwayne Croft and Heinz Zednik. Mozart's genius as a master of ensemble opera, his musical imagination, the characterization of each performer are all apparent, the work requiring seven people who can both act and sing this difficult music.

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Sept 12 , Lecture, "E Pluribus Unum"
Sept 16, Pegasus, A Baroque Miscellany
Sept 26, Lecture, "Le nozze di Figaro"
Sept 27, Bravo Night at the Little Café


Thursday, September 27, The Little Theater Café, 7-9 pm
Daniel Kamalic, tenor, accompanied by Sara Hoffee
Keri Lynn Slominski, soprano, accompanied by Alex Kuczynski
Opera and musical theater in an informal atmosphere, free!


From Death to Rebirth
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation Through Hearing
Music by Ricky Ian Gordon, Libretto by Jean-Claude Van Itallie
November 1, 2, and 3 at 7:30 pm; November 4 at 2 pm, Kilbourn Hall

From Sorrow to Joy
Orfeo ed Euridice
In Italian with English supertitles
Music by Christophe Willibald Gluck, Libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi
January 31, February 1 and 2 at 7:30 pm; February 3 at 2 pm, Annex 804 Black Box Studio

From Seduction to Damnation
Don Giovanni
In Italian with English supertitles
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
April 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 pm; April 7 at 2 pm, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater

The Voice and Opera Department presents
L'enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Spells)
Sung in French and performed with piano
Music by Maurice Ravel, Libretto by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
May 3 and 4 at 7:30 pm, Annex 804 Black Box Studio

Eastman Theater Box Office (585) 274-3000; To purchase tickets Click Here

Royal Opera House Film Series at The Little

Sunday performances at The Little are followed by informal meet-ups in the café to chat about the opera with other fans. Everyone is welcome.  

Sunday November 25 (Noon)
Tuesday November 27 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 4:50

Sunday February 24 (Noon)
Tuesday February 26 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:30

Sunday March 24 (Noon)
Tuesday March 26 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:35

Sunday April 28 (Noon)
Tuesday April 30 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 4:15

Sunday May 26 (Noon)
Tuesday May 28 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:45

MetHD2018-2019SeasonMetropolitan Opera HD Season 2018-2019

Verdi, Aida
October 6
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Verdi's version of French "grand opera" is a story of love, patriotism, loyalty and betrayal, set amid the splendor of the pharaohs and the beauty of the countryside. Anna Netrebko sings Aida, Anita Rachvelishvili is Amneris, Aleksandrs Antonenko is Radames, and Nicola Luisotti conducts.

Saint-Saëns, Samson and Delilah
October 20, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Mark Elder conducts the Met's first new production of this opera in 20 years, featuring a monumental Temple of Dagon, under which Samson crushes his enemies in the last act. Roberto Alagna and Elina Garança, who sizzled in Carmen together not long ago, play the title characters.

Puccini, La Fanciulla del West
October 27, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings Puccini's gun-slinging heroine in this romantic epic of the Wild West, with the heralded return of tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the role of the outlaw she loves. Baritone Zeljko Lucic is the vigilante sheriff Jack Rance, and Marco Armiliato conducts.

Muhly, Marnie
November 10, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Based on a novel by Winston Graham, this new opera by Nico Muhly was commissioned by the Met. It tells the story of a beautiful and elusive woman and the man who pursues her.  Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and baritone Christopher Maltman sing the principals, with Robert Spano at the podium.

Verdi, La Traviata
December 15, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts Michael Mayer's richly textured new production, featuring a dazzling 18th-century setting that changes with the seasons. Soprano Diana Damrau plays the tragic heroine, Violetta, and tenor Juan Diego Flórez returns to the Met for the first time in five seasons to sing the role of Alfredo, Violetta's hapless lover. Baritone Quinn Kelsey is Alfredo's father, Germont, who destroys their relationship.

Cilea, Adriana Lecouvreur
January 12, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Anna Netrebko sings the title role, based on the life of an actual 18th-century actress who dazzled audiences with her on- and off-stage passion. Piotr Becsala is her lover, Maurizio, and Gianandrea Noseda leads the orchestra. The story is superbly set by David McVicar in a working replica of a Baroque theater.

Bizet, Carmen
February 2, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her remarkable portrayal of opera's ultimate seductress, a triumph in her 2017 debut performances of Bizet's masterpiece. Tenor Roberto Alagna is her lover, Don José, in Sir Richard Eyre's powerful production, a Met favorite since its 2009 premiere. Louis Langrée conducts.

Donizetti, La Fille du Régiment
March 2, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Tenor Javier Camarena and soprano Pretty Yende team up for a feast of Donizetti's bel canto vocal fireworks-including the show-stopping tenor aria "Ah! Mes amis," with its nine high Cs. Maurizio Muraro is the comic Sergeant Sulpice, with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as the outlandish Marquise of Berkenfield and Enrique Mazzola in the pit.

Wagner, Die Walküre
March 30, 12:00 
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
In what is expected to be a Wagnerian event for the ages, soprano Christine Goerke plays Brünnhilde, Wotan's willful warrior daughter who loses her immortality in opera's most famous act of filial defiance. Tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek play the incestuous twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. Greer Grimsley sings Wotan, Fricka is Jamie Barton, and Hunding, Gunther Groissbock. Philippe Jordan conducts.

Poulenc, Dialogues des Carmélites
May 11, 12:00 PM 
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the classic John Dexter production of Poulenc's devastating story of faith and martyrdom. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the touching role of Blanche and soprano Karita Mattila, a legend in her own time, returns to the Met as the Prioress.

NickelCityNickel City Opera Season

The Saturn Club, 
Thursday December 6 at 7pm

Hits from  Carousel, Les Miserables, A Little Night Music, Don Quichotte, The Sound of Music and many more! 
$25 per person, limited seating
For more information, please send an eMail to

Villa Maria College, May 24 and 26, 2019


The beloved classic opera by Verdi about a woman who is misunderstood and misguided. Violetta falls in love with Alfredo and loses everything. Memorable and popular tunes abound including the drinking chorus 'Libiamo!' Don't miss a full opera with costumes, sets, chorus and a full orchestra at the majestic 1250-seat Villa Maria College Theatre in Buffalo near Pine Ridge and Doat St. Plenty of parking, easy access and a great acoustic will leave your ears ringing with opera. 

Crouse-Hinds Theater at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center
Free conductor's talk an hour prior to each performance

Christian Capocaccia, Conductor
Symphoria Orchestra
Syracuse Opera Chorus, Ensemble

To purchase a subscription, Click Here
Verdi, Macbeth  
Friday, October 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 2:00 PM
Sung in Italian with projected English titles

R.B. Schlather, Director
Anthony Michaels-Moore, Macbeth
Alexandra Deshorties, Lady Macbeth
Mozart, Don Giovanni
Friday, February 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM  
Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Ophelie Wolf, Director
Marcus DeLoach, Don Giovanni
Julia Ebner, Donna Anna
Pamela Armstrong, Donna Elvira
Robert Mellon, Leporello

Weill, Three Penny Opera
Friday, April 12, 2019 at 8:00 PM  
Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 2:00 PM  
Sung in English with English surtitles.
Cara Consilvio, Director
Peter Kendall Clark, Macheath
Ron Lloyd, Peachum
Melissa Parks, Ceila Peachum
Gregory Sheppard, Tiger Brown

To purchase single tickets, Click Here



Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, EUGENE ONEGIN
For more details, Click Here
Rufus Wainwright, HADRIAN
For more details, Click Here
Richard Strauss, ELEKTRA
For more details, Click Here
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, COSÌ FAN TUTTE
FEBRUARY 5 TO 23, 2019
For more details, Click Here
Giacomo Puccini, LA BOHÈME
APRIL 17 TO MAY 22, 2019
For more details, Click Here
Giuseppe Verdi, OTELLO
APRIL 27 TO MAY 21, 2019
For more details, Click Here


October 14th, 2018 - 3pm
The Forum Theatre
236 Washington St.
Binghamton, NY 13901

Tri-Cities Opera opens its season with the tragic opera Madama Butterfly. Cio-Cio San, a 15 year old geisha, decides to renounce her occupation and religion to find true love in an American naval officer B. F. Pinkerton. Three long years pass and Pinkerton does indeed return but not to reunite with his ever faithful Butterfly.

For details and tickets, Click Here

Nov 9th, & 16th, 2018 - 7:30pm
Nov 11th, & 18th, 2018 - 3:00pm
Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church
44 Main Street
Binghamton, NY 13905

Suor Angelica is a unique one-act opera set in a 17th century Tuscan convent, containing moments of harrowing drama and unequaled redemptive beauty. The story take place over one day and intensifies as it unravels.

For details and tickets, Click Here

Feb 22 & March 1, 2019 - 7:30pm
Feb 24 & March 3, 2019 - 3:00pm
Tri-Cities Opera Center
315 Clinton Street
Binghamton, NY 13905

Three Decembers is a 90 minute one-act opera based on Terrence McNally's original script for Some Christmas Letters. The story takes place over three decades of the AIDS crisis, each section recalling the events of a December, as the characters struggle to connect when family secrets are revealed.

For details and tickets, Click Here

 April 28th, 2019 - 3pm
The Forum Theatre
236 Washington St.
Binghamton, NY 13901

Gilbert & Sullivan's beloved operetta takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain's daughter is in love with a lower class sailor although her father intends her for Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. Will their plan succeed?

For details and tickets, Click Here

Pegasus Logo
2018-2019 Season

All concerts at Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh Street, Rochester. Pre-concert talk at 3:15 pm, concert at 4:00 pm

For more information or to buy tickets, Click Here

A Baroque Miscellany
September 16, 2018 @ 4 pm

Our 14th season begins with an array of chamber music performed by our dear musical friends. Music by familiar composers, such as Telemann and Marais, and unfamiliar composers, such as Pfeiffer-and more!

November 4, 2018 @ 4 pm

An excursion to 17th century Venice to explore the stunning vocal music of Barbara Strozzi, her contemporaries, and her influences. Music of Strozzi, Monteverdi, Schütz, Grandi, Ferrari, and others who lived during this innovative period.

February 24, 2019 @ 4 pm

It's a musical party as we celebrate with 17th century music and dance from Spain and the New World, including Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico.

April 7, 2019 @ 4 pm

"The magical duo Bedlam" (Fanfare Magazine) is Kayleen Sanchez, soprano, and Laudon Schuett, lute. Our first Pegasus Rising artists, they return to Rochester with a program of renaissance French and English lute songs. Sacred, secular, bawdy and tender!

Acis & Galatea
May 5, 2019 @ 4 pm

A semi-staged concert version of this beloved pastoral opera by Handel. Will the monster Polyphemus woo Galatea to his side? Michael Beattie, musical direction; Emily Cuk, stage direction.

OasisOasis Course 316: Exploring French Opera

Oasis is a national organization for adults age 50 and older, who wish to remain active physically, socially and mentally.  Rochester has a thriving chapter located at 259 Monroe Avenue.

Wednesdays      09/12/18 - 12/05/18       09:30 - 11:00    No class 11/21

John Bouman, Retired Partner, Nixon, Peabody, LLP

With lectures and DVDs, we will study six French operas, beginning with the very first: Lully's "Cadmus and Harmonia" (1673), the mythical tale of Cadmus, the greatest Greek hero and slayer of monsters before the days of Hercules, in a spectacular candle-lit production with reconstructed sets and 17th century costumes, just as King Louis XIV would have enjoyed it. Other operas in the program will include Gluck's "reform" opera "Orpheus and Eurydice" (1774), another mythical story involving the attempt by Orpheus to lead his beloved wife Eurydice out of the Underworld and back to the surface of the Earth without looking at her and featuring the beautiful "Dance of the Blessed Spirits;" Offenbach's operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld" (1858), an irreverent parody and satire on Gluck's Orpheus opera which culminates in the famous and risqué "can-can;" Meyerbeer's "Robert the Devil" (1831), one of the first grand operas to be performed at the Paris Opera, in which Robert, trying to win the hand of Isabella, enlists the magical powers of his mysterious friend Bertran who wants Robert to sign away his soul to the devil; Gounod's ever popular and tuneful "Faust" (1859); and Debussy's sensuous and tragic love story adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's symbolist play "Pelleas and Melisande."

Fee $70.00 for 12 classes. You may register online beginning August 21 at or call Oasis at 585-730-8800 from 9am-3pm for further information.

From your Opera Guild 

The Guild's significant financial support of Finger Lakes Opera was again well rewarded. On August 12, I attended the matinee performance of Die Fledermaus, at which a full house thoroughly enjoyed Strauss' comic masterpiece. At both the opera and the Opera Pops concert the previous evening, the orchestra, led by Music and Artistic Director Gerard Floriano, performed beautifully, and the opera cast carried off singing, dancing and drama in fine style. If you haven't made it to Canandaigua yet, mark your August 2019 calendar and don't miss what is sure to be an equally good season next year.

And if you haven't made it to a Bravo Night yet, we have one coming up on September 27 at the Little Theater Café from 7-9 pm. These are opera and musical theater performances by young local artists in an informal setting, with no admission charge.  
An exciting development is our new YouTube channel. Available so far are video clips of the Finger Lakes Young Artists' opera scenes at the Summer Soirée, and selections from previous Bravo Nights. To access them, Click Here.

Welcome to fall, the season of new beginnings and the return of autumnal pleasures!
Please consider the Opera Guild of Rochester among your charitable organizations for 2018-19. Donations to the Opera Guild of Rochester are fully tax deductible and donors will receive an invitation to the Annual Recital in May 2019, which includes a dessert reception with the artists.

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, and our opera trips to regional opera companies including the Glimmerglass Festival.

Cindy B Advert


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, and at the Comprimario level and above may request extra tickets.

Chorus: $50 per person, $80 per couple.
Comprimario: $100-$149.
Primo: $150-$199.
Maestro: $200-$299.
Impresario: $300 or more. 

You may also mail a check to Opera Guild of Rochester, P.O. Box 25613, Rochester, NY 14625. Please include an email or other address for your tax receipt.

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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 available on the Website in the Reading Room.   

Verdi's  Aida
By Art Axelrod

What do Verdi, the Suez Canal, Albanian Cavalry, the Franco-Prussian War and Indiana Jones have in common?

In 1869, at the age of 56, Giuseppe Verdi was an internationally famous composer, an Italian national hero, and a successful gentleman farmer. By 1853 he had already completed his most celebrated and successful "big three" operas, Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata, and then had recently enjoyed acclaim with La forza del destino in 1862 and Don Carlos in 1867. Verdi had often referred to his earlier period, when he was struggling to establish his reputation, as his "years in the galley," churning out work after work, composing and directing, sometimes two works in one year. Now, at the height of his fame, he could afford to relax; he retired to his farm in Sant'Agata, in the Province of Parma near his childhood hometown of Le Roncole. At this point, he could concentrate on only those works that interested him.

In 1869, the ruler of Egypt, the Khedive, was named Isma'il Pasha. Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire whose capital was Istanbul, Turkey. The title "Khedive" can be translated as "Viceroy," that is, one who rules in place of the King. Isma'il Pasha was a westernized ruler. He had been educated in Paris and was eager to lead his country in Western ways. He was quoted as saying, "My country is no longer in Africa; we are now part of Europe. It is therefore natural for us to abandon our former ways and to adopt a new system adapted to our social conditions." He traveled frequently to Britain and France where he cut a dashing figure. He made many influential contacts in both capitals.

In 1798 Egypt had been invaded by Napoleon's French forces. Needless to say, the Ottomans were not going to accept that, and in 1801, with British and Egyptian assistance, a contingent of Albanian cavalry expelled the French and restored Egypt to the Ottomans. (At that time, Albania was also part of the Empire.) During the power vacuum following the French expulsion, an Albanian cavalry officer, Muhammad Ali, managed to seize power, adopted the title of Khedive and established his dynasty in Egypt. Isma'il Pasha was his grandson.

In 1869, the Suez Canal opened for navigation. Work on it had begun in 1859. The French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps was brought in by Said Pasha, Isma'il's predecessor. A canal, an international resource, was exactly the kind of thing that Isma'il wanted for his modern Egypt. He wanted to celebrate its opening with an opera, to be premiered in Cairo in an opera house he had just built, and he sought to have the premiere of the opera as the house's first production. Accordingly, he offered Verdi a commission to write such an opera. At first, Verdi declined.

Auguste Mariette was a French scholar, archaeologist and Egyptologist. He was born in 1821 in Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. He was a prodigy at languages and history and soon distinguished himself as a linguist and epigrapher (a student of inscriptions, particularly ancient ones). In 1839, at the age of 19, he received a post at the Louvre and was sent to Egypt to collect manuscripts. But instead, he became infatuated with Egypt and began a career as an archeologist. Mariette was a swash-buckling figure. He firmly believed that Egyptian artifacts should remain in Egypt, and so, on one occasion, when he learned that a local chieftain had stolen some artifacts and was sailing down the Nile to sell them, he organized a group of armed men and took off on a boat in pursuit. He captured the man, recovered the artifacts and presented them to the Khedive. (It has been suggested that Mariette might have been a model for Indiana Jones.) The Khedive appointed him as the first Director of Ancient Monuments in Egypt and then head of a new National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo.

While in Egypt, Mariette wrote a short story set in Pharaonic Egypt which he entitled La Fiancèe du Nil (The Bride of the Nile). It was never published, but in 1869, he accompanied Isma'il Pasha to Paris; Isma'il introduced him to Camille Du Locle, a distinguished Parisian playwright and impresario. Du Locle had written several librettos for Verdi: Simon Boccanegra, Forza del destino and Otello, and had collaborated on the French version of Don Carlos. He went on to write a libretto in French based on Mariette's story and presented it to Verdi, persuading him to accept it. The French libretto was passed to another of Verdi's librettists, Antonio Ghislanzoni, who wrote the Italian libretto, and the show was on!

But things did not go as planned. Aida was scheduled to premiere as the first production of the new Cairo Royal Opera early in 1871. Sets and costumes were being designed by Du Locle in Paris. But along came the Franco-Prussian War, waged from July 1870 -January 1871. Paris was under siege and Du Locle's sets were trapped. The Cairo Opera House had to open with Rigoletto. Aida finally had its premiere in Cairo in December of that year.

Aida was a resounding success. Its Italian premiere was in Milan in 1872 and its US premiere in New York in 1873. It has been a staple of the opera canon ever since.

And so this convoluted, unlikely conjunction of circumstance resulted in one of the most beloved operas in the repertoire. Enjoy!

For other essays on Verdi's operas Click Here to see the Reading Room at our web site.

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