Friday, November 22, 2013
Westminster Opera Theatre will present two comedic operas, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario) and Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7 at 8 p.m. in the Princeton Regional Schools Performing Arts Center in Princeton High School. The fully staged productions will include the Westminster Festival Orchestra conducted by musical director William Hobbs. The production is directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni.
Mozart’s score is set to the libretto of Gottlieb Stephanie in the singspiel tradition in which musical excerpts are fused with spoken dialogue. For this production, the music will be sung in German and the dialogue will be in English. Der Schauspieldirektor is a farcical backstage look into creating a production, including over-the-top prima donnas.
Gianni Schicchi centers on a family who will go to any lengths to be included in their recently deceased relative’s will after learning that he has left his entire estate to the community. The libretto was written by Giovacchino Forzano and relates to an event mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. It will be performed in Italian with English supertitles.
Both operas will be staged with contemporary settings and scenarios. The performers are students at Rider University’s Westminster Choir College. Westminster Opera Theatre’s productions have been praised for their innovative approach to a wide range of repertoire. Graduates of the program have gone on to perform in opera houses around the world. Recent seasons have included La Clemenza di Tito, The Dialogues of the Carmelites, Albert Herring, Il Re Pastore, Die Zauberflöte, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Così fan tutte and Les contes d’Hoffmann.
Kara-Lynn Vaeni recently directed the premiere of a two-story theatrical installation/event, AliceGraceAnon, which she developed with playwright Kara Lee Corthron. She has also directed the premiere of Rob Hartman’s new musical Vanishing Point at American Stage; the workshop of Dead Bodies, a new play by M.J. Kaufman at Huntington Stage; and Leos Janacek’s opera Jenůfa with Opera Slavica. This past spring she was an artist-in-residence at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where she directed the United States premiere of Suitors, a new translation/adaptation of two rediscovered 17th-century works by Spanish playwrights Ana Caro and Feliciana Enriquez. She is also a resident director for the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at New York University and literary manager of New Georges, an Obie-winning nonprofit theater company in New York that produces feisty, imaginative, highly theatrical new plays by women.
Westminster Choir College faculty member William Hobbs works at many of the world’s major opera houses as conductor and coach. His repertoire ranges from Handel to the European avant-garde, as well as works by Slavic composers and a number of premieres by American composers such as Lowell Liebermann and John Musto. He has assisted a number of conductors and has worked closely with some of the most noted opera singers of our time, including Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Karita Mattila, Lauren Flanigan, Olga Borodina, Frederica von Stade, Roberto Alagna, Paul Groves, Placido Domingo, Rod Gilfry, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Sam Ramey.
Tickets for the performances are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door, through the box office at (609) 921-2663 or online at www.rider.edu/arts. For more information, visit www.rider.edu/arts.
The Princeton Regional Performing Arts Center is located in Princeton High School at the corners of Walnut Lane and Franklin Avenue in Princeton, N.J.