Opera season begins with dramatic love story

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Program > “Carmen” is opening show for the 2014 season

By The Staff

The Santa Fe Opera 2014 season begins Friday with “Carmen.”
The other operas included in this year’s program are “Don Pasquale,” “Fidelio,” the double bill of “The Impresario and Le Rossignol” and the hisotrical “Dr. Sun Yat-sen.”
“Carmen” is an archetypal love story of irresistible dramatic sweep, a meditation on fate and freedom, and a portrait of the definitive femme fatale. But most of all, it is music: the highest expression of Bizet’s trove of melodies that capture all the sun and sensuality of Carmen herself.
The international cast for this production of “Carmen” comes to Santa Fe from many countries. Argentinian Daniela Mack (June 27-July 18) and Ana María Martínez from Puerto Rico (July 28-Aug. 23) share the title role. Don José, Roberto De Biasio, has been the forefront of romantic tenors in only seven years since his debut in Bergamo, Italy. The swaggering toreador Escamillo is sung by the bass-baritone Kostas Smoriginas, praised in “The Guardian” as “utterly charismatic, physically and vocally” in this role. The young Scottish maestro Rory Macdonald conducts. Stephen Lawless will direct.
Note that Carmen is for mature audiences only due do its subject matter.
Performances are
8:30 p.m. June 27; July 2, 5, 11, 18 and 8 p.m. July 28; Aug. 2, 6, 11, 16, 20, 23.
“Don Pasquale” is Donizetti’s Italian comic opera. Norina and Ernesto are young and very much in love, but Don Pasquale, Ernesto’s aging uncle, stands in their way. The road to matrimonial bliss is filled with outlandish pranks and beguiling melodies.
In this ideally cast new production staged by the Laurent Pelly, the young tenor Alek Shrader, who performed previous in front of Santa Fe audiences in “Albert Herring,” portrays Ernesto. The Romanian-American soprano Laura Tatulescu plays Norina and has been described by “Los Angeles Times” as “uncommonly sexy.”
The British baritone Andrew Shore, a singer with comic flair who performed in 2001 Santa Fe Opera “Falstaff,” sings the title role. Corrado Rovaris, who led Donizetti’s “Elixir of Love” in 2009, returns to conduct.

Performance are 8:30 p.m. June 28; July 4, 9 and 8 p.m. July 29; Aug. 4, 9, 13, 19, 22.
For the true meaning of heroism expressed in some of the noblest music ever composed, look to “Fidelio.” Beethoven’s only opera is a testament to the human spirit and a test of musical skill and endurance, posing challenges for soloists, chorus and orchestra.
The story is of the unjustly imprisoned Florestan and his steadfast wife Leonore, who secretly battles a corrupt political regime to win his release. “Fidelio” finds the super-hero in all of us. Returning to Santa Fe to sing Leonore in this production is the soprano Alex Penda (formerly Alexandrina Pendatchanska), who was in the Santa Fe Opera productions of Rossini’s “Ermione” (2000) and Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” (2002) — and also earned two Grammy nominations in 2006.
The tenor Paul Groves, who sang Gualtiero in the Santa Fe Opera’s 2011 “Griselda” and the title role in the 2010 production of “The Tales of Hoffmann,” portrays Florestan.
Stephen Wadsworth, who directed “King Roger” in 2012, returns to mount this production. On the podium, Harry Bicket leads his first production as Santa Fe’s new chief conductor.

Performances are 8:30 p.m. July 12, 16, 25 and July 31; Aug. 5, 12, 21.
For the first time since 1993, The Santa Fe Opera presents two shorter operas paired as a double bill.

Divas vie for a plum role while a producer struggles to cope with their rivalry and with the stresses of work in the music business. That’s the scenario of Mozart’s brief, opera “The Impresario,” but it could also be a news story in tomorrow’s issue of “The Hollywood Reporter.”
In these framed productions, the stars’ rivalry centers on casting for Stravinsky’s one-act opera “Le Rossignol,” which forms the second half of the double-bill. With English dialogue by the British dramatist Ranjit Bolt and additional Mozart concert arias folded into the score, “The Impresario” takes audience’s to 1920s Paris for the high-stress auditions.
With the same cast, “Le Rossignol” enfolds in Hans Christian Andersen’s poetic fable in which an emperor learns the lesson of humility. Sopranos Erin Morley and Brenda Rae face off as the dueling divas. Making his company debut is English stage director, Michael Gieleta. Kenneth Montgomery will conduct.
This production of “Le Rossignol” honors the centennial of the opera’s premiere in Paris in 1914.

Performances are 8 p.m. July 19, 23
and 8 p.m. Aug. 1, 7, 15.
A historical opera, “Dr. Sun Yat-sen” by Chinese-born American composer Huang Ruo makes its American premiere.
Charles MacKay calls Ruo “one of the most gifted and imaginative composers writing today,” whose music has galvanized critics and audiences internationally with its blend of Eastern, Western, folk and classical styles. “Dr. Sun Yat-sen” depicts the epic struggle to overthrow China’s ancient monarchy and build a modern national identity for one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Tenor Warren Mok recreates the title role.
The conductor will be Carolyn Kuan, in demand with opera and ballet companies throughout the world. James Robinson directs.

Performance are 8:30 p.m. July 26
and July 30; Aug. 8, 14.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit santafeopera.org.