Call for Volunteers

Enjoy meeting others in Rochester's opera community and contributing to the availability of opera activities by volunteering for the Opera Guild! Learning a small job or part of a larger one will be rewarding in numerous ways for anyone who wants to participate.  There are three jobs posted: Document Designer, Mail and Database Specialist, and Audio/Visual Technician.  Currently one dedicated guild member is performing all these jobs and more. If you can do any part of this work please consider volunteering. Thank you.



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, as well as 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 on our area. Please visit us at  

This newsletter is sent via eMail each month, currently to about 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

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

Click on a highlight to jump to a topic.
Click here to go to our Web site.
Free Opera Guild Lecture/Listening Series

Brighton Memorial Library

2300 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester NY 14618

(585) 784-5310


Monday, March 9, 2015 at 7-9 p.m.

Beginnings in the Baroque (Carol Crocca).   Click Here for a related article in the January issue entitled OPERA, ORPHEUS, EVOLUTION and REFOR




Penfield Public Library

1985 Baird Rd., Penfield, NY 14526 
(585) 340-8720


Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 2:30-4 p.m.

Heroic Women in Opera (Agneta Borgstedt) 


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EastmanCompFriends of Eastman Opera
Voice Competition winners

Kilbourne Hall
February 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Here are the finalists:
2015 FEO Competition Finalists
Photo Credit: Michael Radigan, FEO

From right to left (pianists not pictured):
First: Evelyn Saavedra, soprano, with Andrew Stephens, piano
Second: Keely Futterer, soprano, with Christopher Reed, piano
Third: Sam Grosby, tenor, with Christopher Kayler, piano
Contest adjudicator: Neil Varon, Professor of Conducting & Ensembles
Honorable Mention: Matthew Swensen, tenor, with Mary Holzhauer, piano


Click here for a YouTube video of the event (shot and edited by Bob Swensen, ESM). 

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LOL Logo
LOLAdvertRenée Fleming on Broadway in
Living on Love

See LIVING ON LOVE and save up to 35%*!
The world's most famous opera singer Renée Fleming plays the world's most famous opera singer in the hilarious new screwball comedy Living On Love. Direct from a smash-hit run at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, this glamorous romp through the world of music, marriage and celebrity is written by two-time Tony Award® winner Joe DiPietro (Nice Work If You Can Get It), adapted from a work by Garson Kanin (Born Yesterday) and directed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes). Fleming stars alongside Tony nominee Douglas Sills (The Scarlet Pimpernel) and Emmy® nominee Anna Chlumsky ("Veep").
When a demanding diva (Fleming) discovers that her larger-than-life maestro husband (Sills) has become enamored with the lovely young lady (Chlumsky) hired to ghostwrite his largely fictional autobiography, she retaliates by hiring her own handsome young scribe to chronicle her life as an opera star. Sparks fly, silverware is thrown and romance blossoms in the most unexpected ways.
Click here to visit, or call (800) 872-8997, and use code LLOPERA205 for the discounted prices.*

Performances begin April 1.  The discounted ticket prices are as follows:

Orchestra (Reg. $137)
Orchestra (Reg. $145)
Mezzanine (Reg. $99)
Mezzanine (Reg. $109)
Balcony (Reg. $55)
Balcony (Reg. $65)

*Offer valid on all performance through 8/2/15, excluding any blackout dates whenever they may apply. All prices include a $2 facility fee. All sales are final - no refunds or exchanges. Not valid in combination with any other offers. Normal service charges apply to phone and internet orders. Performance schedule subject to change. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. Photos by Andrew Eccles.

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OurTownEastman Opera Theater
Announces Ned Rorem's


Our Town takes place in 1901 in the small town of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, but it proves that "our" is everywhere. In 2006, composer Ned Rorem and librettist J.D. McClatchy turned Thornton Wilder's theatrically innovative play into a moving opera. A Stage Manager is the narrator, commentator, and guide through Wilder's story of love, life and death  among the Gibbs and the Webb families; the play's profound emotions are heightened through Rorem's lyrical music.

Thursday, April 9, Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 12 at 2 p.m.

Pre- performance lecture one hour before in the Ray Wright Room (room 120).
Tickets available now at (585) 454 2100, 108 East Ave. Rochester NY 14604

Our Town is sung in English with English subtitles

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9th Classical Idol Competition
For Young Opera Singers

Temple B'rith Kodesh

2131 Elmwood Ave

Rochester NY 14620


Final competition on Saturday April 18th at 7 p.m.

$ 75.00 - cocktail attire


Sponsored by the Rochester Oratorio Society 


Distinguished panelists are Maestro Gildo DiNuncio, Italian coach and conductor for the Metropolitan Opera, Constance Fee, widely experienced international performing artist and Associate Professor of Voice at Roberts Wesleyan College, baritone Johnathan Beyer, and Music Director and Mid-Day Host for WXXI Julia Figueras are adjudicating.   


Click here for the flier from the Classical Idol web site for sponsorship opportunities. The Opera Guild has one table filled which gives participants a 10% discount and is looking for more participants to fill more tables. Call (585) 334-2323 if you want to help get together another table with the Opera Guild.  


Jonathan Beyer
Jonathan Beyer 


For tickets to the final round ( $75.00)

Call Rochester Oratorio Society at (585) 473-2234 or e-mail


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Eastman School of Music

2015 Lotte Lenya Competition 


The Lotte Lenya competition seeks exceptionally-talented young singers/actors who excel in a wide range of musical-theater styles for the 2015 contest.  


The finals are on April 18, 2015 at Kilbourn Hall, the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York.   Both the Daytime Round (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and the Evening Concert (8 p.m.) are free and open to the public.

Winners will be announced at the conclusion of the Evening Concert. A panel of distinguished musical theater and opera professionals will judge the competition.


Further information maybe found on the Kurt Weill Foundation's web site at


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SyrBarberSyracuse Opera Tour
Rossini's The Barber of Seville

Rossini's razor-sharp wit shines through each scene of this fast-paced comedy. With the help of a wily barber, a strong-willed young woman outwits a lecherous old man in this eternally fresh comic masterpiece. From the first notes of one of the world's most famous overtures, all the way to the final curtain, you are sure to recognize many hit tunes.

Click here for flyer, call Helga Strasser at 586-2274, or e-mail

Sung in Italian with projected English titles.

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Metropolitan Opera Trip 2015

Wed. April 29, 2015 - a double bill:
Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana
Leoncavallo, Pagliacci

With Eva-Maria Westbrock, Marcello Álvarez, Zeljko Lucic (Cavalleria Rusticana), Patricia Racette, Marcelo Álvarez, George Gagnidze, Lucas Meachem (Pagliacci)
Conductor: Fabio Luisi

Opera's most enduring tragic double bill returns in an evocative new production with the verismo action set across two time periods but in the same Sicilian setting.

Thurs. April 30, 2015
Franz Lehár, The Merry Widow

With Susan Graham, Danielle de Niese, Rod Gilfry, Stephen Costello, and Alan Opie
Conductor: Fabio Luisi

Susan Graham stars as the beguiling femme fatale who captivates all Paris in Lehár's enchanting operetta in a new staging in an art-nouveau setting that climaxes with singing and dancing grisettes at the legendary Maxim's.

Fri. May 1, 2015
Stravinsky, The Rake's Progress

With Layla Claire, Stephanie Blythe, Paul Appleby, Gerald Finley, Brindley Sherratt
Conductor: James Levine

Stravinsky's only full-length opera with its wonderful neo-classical score is back on the Met stage for the first time in 12 years.

Click here for flyer


FingerFinger Lakes Opera Festival 2015

Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore


The main stage operatic production in the

Wadsworth Auditorium at Geneseo College


One of Donizietti's masterpieces of opera buffa will be performed on

August 7 and 9, 2015, sung in Italian with English supertitles.

Conductor:Gerard Floriano.


Adina will be sung by Andrea Carroll and Nemorino will be sung by Victor Robertson.


Returning to Finger Lakes Opera will be its creative team, including

E. Loren Meeker, scenic designer Laura Hawkes, and lighting designer

Nic Minetor.


Tickets for the 2015 season will be available online (FingerLakesOpera.comand by phone at (585) 245 5650. A group package of 10 or more tickets will receive a $ 5.00 per ticket discount.


Gerard Floriano
Andrea Carrol
Victor Robertson


Opera Guild of Rochester

Annual Recital  for Donors

The Opera Guild of Rochester is proud to announce its Annual Recital on May 17, 2015. The featured artist will be tenor Matthew Valverde.  Matthew has made his name in Rochester and throughout the United States in opera, recitals, and as a choral soloist and conductor. He teaches at Nazareth College, the Eastman School, and the Eastman Community Music School.

His theme for the program is "Wishes and Dreams," featuring traditional opera arias, zarzuela, and Mexican songs.   


Click here for his biography. 




Metropolitan Opera Live in Season 


Rossini's La Donna del Lago - Met Premiere


March 14, 2015, 12:55 pm ET


U.S. Encore:  Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 6:30 pm


Bel canto superstars Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez join forces for this Rossini showcase of vocal virtuosity, set in the medieval Scottish highlands and based on a narrative peom by Sir Walter Scott. DiDonato is the "lady of the lake" of the title, and Flórez is the king who relentlessly pursues her, their vocal fireworks embellishing the romantic plot in this Met premiere production conducted by Michele Mariotti. 


Approximate running time 3:30


 Click here for Synopsis  



Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana

Leoncavallo's Pagliacci - New Production  


April 25, 2015, 12:30 pm ET


U.S. Encore: Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm local time


Opera's most enduring tragic double-bill returns in an evocative new production from Sir David McVicar, who sets the action across two time periods but in the same Sicilian village. Marcelo Álvarez rises to the challenge of playing the dual tenor roles of Turiddu in Cavalleria rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci. Rae Smith (War Horse) has designed the moodily atmospheric 1900 village square setting of Cavalleria, which transforms to a 1948 truck stop for the doomed vaudeville troupe of Pagliacci. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Cav) and Patricia Racette (Pag) sing the unlucky heroines, and Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi is on the podium.  



Approximate running time 3:30



ReaderArticlesThis section brings you articles written by anyone involved in opera, from impresarios, to singers, to fans.  If you have seen a performance that you want to review, or have attended a class or workshop that you want to write about, or have a story or a review that would interest others, please submit it to us and we will schedule it for inclusion.  Send your submissions to and please limit them to 500 words.  All submissions are subject to editorial review. 

Reader Article #1


Classical Idol 2015      

Eric Townell

Rochester again plays host to the world's finest emerging vocalists in the classical field in the ninth annual Classical Idol Vocal Competition, April 17-18, 2015. Widely recognized as an essential career step for vocalists pursuing professional performance at the top levels, Classical Idol provides the opportunity for young artists to compete before a live audience and receive real-time commentary from established authorities in the field.

Selected from national and international applications, twenty vocalists come to Rochester for the semi-final round of the competition, to be held at Asbury First United Methodist Church on April 17. Panelists choose ten contestants to advance to the final round, presented before a live audience on April 18, 2015, 7:00 P.M. at Temple B'rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Avenue. In the final round, judges offer helpful commentary on the performances. Cash awards and concert appearances go to the top performers. Listeners vote for the Audience Favorite cash award.

"It was such an honor to receive first place and the Audience Favorite award at the Classical Idol competition. It was such a marvelous group of singers and was a really wonderful experience," remarked baritone Jonathan Beyer, who returns this year as a panelist for Classical Idol, offering advice to upcoming artists from one whose career was launched in Rochester. Beyer's burgeoning international career now includes performances in the Orient and with the Metropolitan Opera, among numerous prestigious assignments.    

Joining him as distinguished panelists are Maestro Gildo DiNunzio, longtime Italian coach and conductor for the Metropolitan Opera; Constance Fee, a widely-experienced international performing artist and Associate Professor of Voice at Roberts Wesleyan College; and Julia Figueras, Music Director and Mid-Day Host for WXXI-FM, producer of the live performance production Backstage Pass and a favorite among Classical Idol audiences. Brenda Tremblay, Morning Drive Host/Producer for Classical 91.5 FM, emcees the event. Rochester Oratorio Society Artistic Director Eric Townell moderates the panel.

"The growth of Classical Idol has simply amazed us all," Townell remarks. In the first year, contestants came with guitars and sang (some really good!) Praise music. Now, the competition attracts attention from the Metropolitan Opera, Glimmerglass, Tri-Cities Opera and other national and regional companies, because the quality of the contestants has been so high. It is no exaggeration to say that major careers have been made at Classical Idol, and that the guidance artists receive in the final round has been formative and critical to their success."

"What makes Classical Idol special is that everybody gets work. Many local and national organizations now recruit our winners. Contestants have been hired from the semi-final round for engagements with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, for instance."

"My advice for audience members truly interested in the art form: attend the semi-final round on Friday, April 17 in the afternoon - it's free (but a reservation is required) and the singing is outstanding. You will be unable to resist hearing the final round. The growth and progress from one day to the next has consistently astounded our panelists."

The proceeds from Classical Idol allow the Oratorio Society to promote the event and the careers of its laureates more widely and to recruit judges of the first rank. The funds also build ROS programs for developing new talent locally, the benefits of which may be seen in performances of regional professional ensembles and in the ROS itself, which celebrates 70 years of concerts in 2015-16. 



Reader Article #2

Verdi's Nabucco and the Italian Risorgimento
Rosalba Pisaturo

Nabucco was Verdi's first operatic triumph, and it established his reputation as a great composer.   But more than that, the opera played a political role.  Italians were seeking independence from foreign domination; Nabucco inspired the people with national sentiment and became the artistic symbol of the Risorgimento, their struggle to unite as a nation and rid themselves of the control of the Austrians, the French and the Spaniards.  One of the young artists and intellectuals whose work led to political activism  was Giuseppe Mazzini, who believed that music in particular was the "universal language of the nation" and a powerful vehicle for the ideas of the Risorgimento.

Verdi became a cultural and artistic symbol of the movement alongside Mazzini, Manzoni, Garibaldi, Cavour, and others.   He strongly believed that Italy had to be free and united as a monarchy under the king Victor Emmanuel II from the Savoy dynasty. In the 1850's Verdi's name became a rallying cry for unification: "Viva Verdi" (the acrostic "Vittorio Emanuele Re Di Italia") was shouted and written on the walls of major cities.
In Verdi's "Autobiographical Sketch" he tells the story of receiving a libretto from Temistocle Solera in 1840, when he was mourning the deaths of his wife and two children and had decided not to compose again after the failure of his second opera Un giorno di regno.   When he took the libretto home, he said, "I threw the manuscript with a violent gesture on the table and stood rigid before it. The libretto, falling on the table, opened itself and without my quite realizing it my eyes fixed on the page before me at one particular line: 'Va, pensiero sull'ali dorate' ('Fly, thought, on golden wings')... I was deeply moved." He gradually worked on the music and in 1841 Nabucco was completed.

It is based on the biblical story of the Jews, conquered and exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucodonosor (Nabucco).   But to the Italians at the dawn of their wars of independence against the Austrians, Verdi's opera became an inspiring call to arms, capturing the voice of the exiles yearning for their homeland.  At its premiere of March 9, 1842, the opera was a great success, and in spite of police prohibition against encores, which could initiate political demonstrations, the audience demanded that this Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Part II be sung again.  Gioachino Rossini observed that this Chorus is not a true chorus, but an aria sung by many voices.   Except for a few notes, all voices sing the melody, and it is in a range that can be sung by anyone.

 When Verdi died in Milan in 1901, all of Italy wept.  Almost a quarter million people marched in a solemn procession to the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, sung by a massed choir under the baton of Arturo Toscanini.  In 2011, on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, a special performance of Nabucco, conducted by Riccardo Muti, was staged in Rome. When it came to the Chorus in Part II, Maestro Muti asked the audience to sing along.  Almost all of them knew every word. To this day many Italians believe that 'Va, pensiero' is the Italian national anthem.

(1) Martin, George, Verdi, His Music, Life and Times, New York: Mead and Company, 1983 
(2) Pugnetti, Gino, Portraits of Greatness, Verdi, Elite Publishing Corporation, 1984 

FromOGRFrom your Opera Guild

Call for volunteers: Enjoy meeting others in Rochester's opera community and contributing to the availability of opera activities by volunteering for the Opera Guild! Learning a small job or part of a larger one will be rewarding in numerous ways for anyone who wants to participate.  There are three jobs posted: Document Designer, Mail and Database Specialist, and Audio/Visual Technician.  Currently one dedicated guild member is performing all these jobs and more. If you can do any part of this work please consider volunteering. Thank you.    

If you would like to volunteer in some other way, just let us
know what your interest is and we will certainly find a place to accommodate it! Click the titles for job descriptions, or contact Carol Crocca, Director of Development, at
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Click Opera Bracelets to visit

Please consider the Opera Guild of Rochester among your c
haritable organizations for 2014. Donations to the Opera Guild of Rochester are fully tax deductible and donors receive an invitation to a free Annual Recital in May 2015, which is our gift to our donors, followed by dessert reception with the artists.

Enjoy our free Lecture/Listening series, which you can download from the web site 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.

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Opera Guild of Rochester | P.O. Box 92245 | Rochester | NY | 14692-0245