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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 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.

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RLOBldgRochester Lyric Opera News

Christian Scientist Church Rochester Lyric Opera started the news media buzzing when it announced its purchase of the former First Church of Christ, Scientist.  On April 10 there was a press conference in the facility announcing the purchase accompanied by a tour of the facility, various renderings of the proposed renovations, and performances from several local singers and a group from the Rochester high school, School of the Arts.  Lyric Opera intends to renovate the building as a venue for arts performances, and has already begun programming both opera performances and jazz performances in cooperation with the Rochester International Jazz Festival.


Here are some of the stories published by the news media:


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AgnetaA Note from the President

April 8, 2015 was an unforgettable day in the music history of Rochester, the day Susan Cotroneo of Rochester Lyric Opera announced that the historic building, formerly owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, will now be the first theater owned by an opera company in Rochester.

Rochester has certainly had opera productions in the past; but whether home-grown, brought from New York, or given by European touring companies, none had a theater which was its local home.

Rochester Lyric Opera made this vision come true with the hard work of its team over several years.  Now this beautiful building with exceptional acoustics will be a "house of worship" for all of music from opera to jazz, chamber music, and recitals, and a gathering place for everybody who loves music.

The Opera Guild of Rochester now is proud to be part of the users and supporters of this magnificent building that rivals European opera houses and concert venues and will enrich Rochester's cultural life.  We call on all the people in Rochester and beyond to join us in support of this jewel, where we can find joy and peace listening to music.

- Agneta Borgstedt
IdolWinnersClassical Idol Winners 2015
The winners were:
1. First place and audience favorite: Laura Strickling, Soprano 
2. Second place: Magdalena Wor, Mezzo-Soprano 
3. Third place: Rebecca Witty, Soprano 
4. Tied for fourth place: Madeline Cain, Soprano and Rhys Lloyd Talbot, Bass-Baritone

Magdalena Wor, Laura Strickling, Rebecca Witty, Rhys Lloyd Talbot, Madeline Cain

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RanalettaThanks for the support 

Thanks to all who helped support Judith Ranaletta's Tony Award nomination. (See article in last month's Viva Voce for full details.)  Results will not be announced until May.  We will keep you informed.
Judith Ranaletta

LotteLenyaLotte Lenya Competition

Talent was so abundant at the Lotte Lenya Competition finals that the judges awarded two second and two third prizes, in addition to giving two Lys Symonette Awards, each for the outstanding performance of one particular selection (out of the four required of each finalist) and a new prize, the Carolyn Weber Award which recognizes outstanding creativity in the program and sensitivity to the text/music relationship. 

For more information see

The winners were:

First Prize
- Lauren Michelle
Second Prizes
- Robin Bailey
- Jordon Davidson
Third Prizes
- Michael Maliakel
- Adam Fieldson
Carolyn Weber Award
- Briana Silvie Gantsweg
Simonetti Award
- Talya Lieberman
- Florian Peters

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GriffeyEastman School of Music Announcement 
Tenor Anthony Dean Griffey
and Master Teacher Dr. Jonathan Retzlaff
are appointed to the Voice Faculty at Eastman School of Music.
Anthony Dean Griffey is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music who is well known for his portrayal of Peter Grimes and has performed in many major opera houses in the United States and around the world. He served on the faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for three years and for the last two years has been Distinguished Artist in Residence at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Dr. Jonathan Retzlaff, lyric baritone, has championed the art of the song recital. Following his New York debut recital of French melodie at Carnegie Hall, he  performed in many major recital venues in the United States and in Europe.

Please click here for the full report at the web site of the Eastman school of Music

NitschRochester Lyric Opera
Community Voice Recital

To sign up to sing, please contact by May 20th
The Rochester Lyric Opera Community Voice Recital Series is a celebration of the talent, passion and dedication of singers in the Greater Rochester area.

Click here for more information
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NickelNickel City Opera 

Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro  
Riviera Theatre, Tonawanda NY


June 26 and June 28

Click here for more information.

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GlimmerglassGlimmerglass Opera Tour

Verdi's Macbeth
July 21, 2015
New production, presented in Italian with projected English Text.

Shakespeare's tragedy of Macbeth is one of Western civilization's most powerful and
iconic tales. In the first Glimmerglass production of Verdi's opera based on the play, Artist-in-Residence Eric Owens makes his role as the title character with Melody Moore as his scheming wife.

See Reader Article #2 for the second in a series about Verdi and the making of the opera.

Click here for flyer. GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY    
FingerLakesFinger 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 by Victor Robertson.


Returning to Finger Lakes Opera will be its creative team, including stage director E. Loren Meeker, scene 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

ImpresarioRochester Lyric Opera
440 East Avenue


Rochester Lyric Opera's
10th Anniversary Celebration

Following a celebratory reception at 6:30 PM, enjoy a concert  performance of Mozart's The Impresario,   complemented by a suite of scenes and arias featuring Rochester Lyric Artists.

Click here for more information

AnnualOpera 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. 



LOLAdvertLOLAdvert2Renée Fleming on Broadway in
Living on Love

See LIVING ON LOVE and save up to 35%*!

LOL Logo 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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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, we encourage you to submit it to us and we will schedule it for inclusion.  Please send your submissions to and please limit them to 500 words.  All submissions are subject to editorial review. 

Reader Article #1

Verdi and Shakespeare: The Libretto  
Part 2 of 3
Carol Crocca

Unlike Othello and Falstaff, Verdi's other operas based on Shakespeare, the roots of Macbeth are English, taken from the accounts of the reigns of Duncan and Macbeth in the Chronicles of Holinshed.  Not strictly speaking histories, these accounts included the role of the witches. Shakespeare, of course, tailored the story to his purpose, and Lady Macbeth is his own creation.    


Verdi's librettist for Macbeth was Francesco Piave, with whom he would work on more operas than any other librettist.  Piave was a long-suffering but not especially competent soul, who learned to write as Verdi directed, and had a difficult apprenticeship.  Verdi wrote to Piave regarding the work on the libretto on September 22, 1846:  "I've got the cavatina [entrance aria], which is better than the introduction, but oh, how prolix you are!"  He went on to complain that Lady Macbeth's recitativo was too long and not sufficiently "lofty" in style, there were too many lines in Macbeth and Banquo's duet, and perhaps the lines should be shorter in the witches' chorus. Then, over and over in insulting capitals appeared "POCHE PAROLE...STILO CONCISO."  ("Few words...concise style.")  He was not known as "The Bear of Busseto" for nothing! 


Piave bore it all patiently, often remarking, "that's how the Maestro wants it." Verdi sometimes had to hire another librettist to effect what Piave had been unable to provide, and this was the case with Macbeth. He brought in Andrea Maffei, a friend, poet and translator, who wrote, or rewrote, entirely the witches' chorus in Act III and the sleepwalking scene. Piave was nevertheless brought in on the revision of Macbeth 18 years later, although it appears that Verdi wrote the new aria for Lady Macbeth, "La luce langue," virtually himself.

One of the first adaptations Verdi made was to multiply the number of witches from three to three groups of six, most probably because he had choruses in mind for them.  Lennox, Ross and other Scottish noblemen were eliminated, their dramatic functions given to other characters. The role of Duncan, the murdered king, is mute. When he arrives at the castle, we see him pass across the stage in the background, miming greetings. Verdi eliminates the drunken porter who admits MacDuff and Lennox to the castle after the murder of Duncan, a bit of comic relief in the play that was not congenial to the Italian notion of tragedy.

Act IV, scene ii, the murder of MacDuff's family, is omitted, as is Act IV, scene iii, the conversation between MacDuff, Malcolm, the king's son, and Ross in England. In that conversation, they refer to the plight of Scotland under Macbeth's bloody reign and Verdi chose to show this by adding an entirely new scene: Act IV, scene i, of the opera actually shows the Scottish refugees and provides them the opportunity to sing a patriotic chorus in the tradition of "Va pensiero" (from Nabucco.) In the 1847 version, Macbeth dies on stage, unlike in the play.  In both versions, the opera ends with a chorus of rejoicing, the only of Verdi's tragic operas to do so. 


Next month: The Lady and the Perfectionist


Reader Article #2

Ned Rorem's Our Town  
A Review of the Saturday evening performance at Eastman Opera Theater 
William Crocca

Our Town is a 1938 three-act play by American playwright Thornton Wilder. It tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover's Corners between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens.  Our Town was first performed at McCarter Theater in Princeton, New Jersey in 1938.  It later went on to success on Broadway and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It remains popular today and revivals are frequent.

Our Town is also a three-act opera by composer Ned Rorem and librettist J. D. McClatchy.  It was premiered by Indiana University Opera Theater with student singers and orchestra on 25 February 2006. Its professional debut was at the Lake George Opera on 1 July 2006. It covers the same ground as the play, dealing with birth, maturity and death. Rorem created pleasant but unmemorable melodies delivered with a sparseness reminiscent of the original production.  As with the play, the libretto calls for no sets, a bare stage, and limited props. 

Even though it is sung-through, i.e. with virtually no spoken dialog, the music is disappointingly bland.  There is little melodic motif to focus your attention or amplify the emotions.  The music is wallpaper, and so, I suppose, deliberately avoids upstaging the play. 

Despite this, the cast created an intense and affecting performance.  The key is their ability to act: "park-and-bark" singers could not have delivered the drama the way they did.  Act 3 gets to the nub of the play, examining our attitudes and perceptions of life.  Here the dead deal honestly with their regrets, and the audience resonates with the feelings.  Emily is the lightning-rod for these emotions as she grows up, deals with her love for George, and then dies, still loving George and wanting more of him and life.  Like Emily, we left the theater wanting more.   


VolunteerCall for a volunteer

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 pay off in numerous ways for anyone who wants to participate.  Currently there is one job posted: Assistant Publisher.

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 job title for a description, or contact Carol Crocca, Director of Development, at

FromOGRFrom your Opera Guild

The Opera Guild of Rochester promotes the production and enjoyment of opera in the greater Rochester area.  We support efforts to perform opera, to present recorded performances, and we work to inform all who are interested in opera about the music, the drama, and the history.

On the morning of April 8, the Executive Committee of the Guild's Board of Directors attended the press conference at which Sue Cotroneo announced the purchase of the beautiful building formerly owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The announcement was followed by a concert to demonstrate the building's acoustics, performed by a chorus from the School of the Arts led by John Gabriel, solos and duets by Allyn van Dusen and Madelain Cain, and a piano solo by Kevin Nitsch, who also accompanied the vocalists. 

On April 18, guild board members, volunteers, and friends made up two tables at the Classical Idol Competition, and on April 24, several board members and volunteers attended the inaugural concert of RLO (Rochester Lyric Opera) at their newly announced theater, a benefit with Matthew Swensen, tenor, and others. 

Please consider the Opera Guild of Rochester among your charitable organizations for 2015. 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