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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 pay off in numerous ways for anyone who wants to participate.  Currently there are several jobs posted: Assistant Publisher, Publicity Manager, Mail & Database Maintenance Assistant, Document Designer, and Audio/Visual Technician.

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.  Contact Carol Crocca, Director of Development, at


Edition Viva Voce, February 2016
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 over 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

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

Opera Lecture Series
Brighton Memorial Library
2300 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 784-5310

The Guild lecture and listening series on operatic topics is free.   

"The Mezzo Voice in Opera," presented by Art Axelrod
Monday, February 1, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Preview of the world premiere of SHOT!, a new opera by Persis Vehar
Monday, February 8, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

Members from Nickel City Opera will present audio excerpts and more from the opera SHOT! by Persis Vehar, which will have its world premiere on June 10 and 12, 2016 at Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo NY. Valerian Ruminsky, who sings the role of President McKinley in the opera, will sing at this preview lecture, with a keyboard accompanist. For more on the opera and the composer, see Nickle City Opera Season and Reader Article

FairportFairport Library
1 Fairport Village Landing, 
Fairport, NY 14450
(585) 223-9091 
The Guild lecture and listening series on operatic topics is free. 
The Opera Guild will celebrate the new opening of the Fairport Library.

"The Mezzo Voice in Opera" by Art Axelrod
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM 

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

The Guild lecture and listening series on operatic topics is free. 
We help celebrate the Penfield Library's "March into the Arts" program with

"Bad Girls in Opera" by Carol Crocca
Sunday March 13, 2016 from 2:30 - 4 PM 

eastmanEastman Opera Theater Season
Suor Angelica by Puccini
Mese mariano
by Giordano 
January 28, 29, 30 at 7:30 PM, January 30 at 2 PM  
804 Annex 
Suor Angelica is the second in a trio of operas known as Il trittico.  
Mese mariano is an opera in one act with an Italian libretto by Salvatore Di Giacomo,  adapted from his own play. 
Both operas deal with the grief of women who were forced to give up their children.

Stephen Carr, stage director; Ksenia Leletkina, music director.

Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart 
April 7, 8, 9 at 7:30 PM, April 10 at 2 PM 
Eastman Theater 
Mozart and librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte's most popular and delightful comedy in which the servants succeed in thwarting the Duke's lecherous plans. 
Friends of Eastman Opera Annual Dinner
April 7 at 5:00 PM at Miller Center
Friends of Eastman Opera Voice competition
February 12 at 8 PM at Kilbourn Hall (no tickets necessary) 
Tickets sold through the Eastman Theater Box Office
433 East Main Street, Rochester NY
Tel: 585-454-2100

Except for April 7, introductory talks will begin one hour before each performance. 
More information can be obtained at   

METHDHD Season Live at the Met 

Manon Lescaut - New production
Puccini / Illica, Giacosa, et al
Mar 05, 2016, 12:55 PM

The Met stage ignites when soprano Kristina Opolais and tenor Jonas Kaufman join forces in Puccini's obsessive love story. Opolais sings the title role of the country girl who transforms herself into a Parisian temptress, while Kaufmann is the dashing student who desperately woos her. Director Richard Eyre places the action in occupied France in a film setting. "Desperate passion" is the phrase Puccini himself used to describe the opera that confirmed his position as the preeminent Italian composer of his day. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi leads the stirring score.

For a synopsis of Manon Click Here.

Click on the following links to get more information
Annual Recital

The Annual Recital for donors to the Opera Guild will be on May 15, 2016. For the first time in 25 years we will offer a bass baritone, Carl DuPont. He is a mature, well-known singer whose theme for this presentation is power and corruption. He will sing Sarastro's aria "In diesen heilgen Hallen" from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Wolfram's aria "O! du mein holder Abendstern" from Wagner's Tannhäuser, and Wotan's aria "Abschiedslied" from Wagner's Die Walküre, among others. 

Click here for the complete program

Click here for more information and Mr. DuPont's biography.

Carl DuPont
Carl DuPont

festivalGlimmerglass Festival Season 2016

La Boheme
Puccini / Illica & Giacosa
July 8 - August 26, 2016
Sweeney Todd
Sondheim / Wheeler
July 9 - August 27, 2016
The Thieving Magpie (La gazza ladra) 
Rossini / Gherardini
July 16 - August 25, 2016
The Crucible
Ward / Stambler
July 23 - August 27, 2016
More information can be obtained at
or by calling (607) 547-2255

Single tickets from $26.00 on sale January 25, 2016

NickelNickel City Opera Season

Songs of Love
Valentine's Day, February 14, 2016, 2:30 pm
The Lancaster Opera House
For details and tickets call the Box Office at (716) 683-1776

Preview of the World Premiere of SHOT!, a new opera by Persis Vehar 

Brighton Memorial Library
2300 Elmwood Avenue 
Rochester, NY 14618 
(585) 784-5310
Monday, February 8, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. 
Members from the Nickel City Opera will present audio excerpts and more from the opera SHOT! by Persis Vehar.  Valerian Ruminsky, who sings the role of President McKinley in the opera, will sing at this preview lecture, with a keyboard accompanist.
International debut of Persis Vehar's SHOT!
Libretto by Gabrielle Vehar

Shea's Performance Arts Center, Buffalo
Friday June 10, 2016, at 8 p.m. and Sunday June 12 at 2:30 p.m.
For details and tickets call the Box Office at (716) 939-3722

Shot is the seventh opera by Buffalo native and Composer-in-Residence, Persis Parshal Vehar.

The opera deals with the assassination of President William McKinley on September 6, 1901, in Buffalo on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition. He was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz and died on September 14, 1901 from his  wounds. 
Persis Vehar
Persis Vehar
Photo: Jim Bush
The opera was commissioned by Valerian Ruminski, the Director of Nickel City Opera, who will be singing the bass-baritone role of President William McKinley.

Click here for much more information and a small preview:

For Nickel City Opera Website click here:  

ClassicalIdolClassical Idol competition
The 10th Classica ldol competition of the Rochester Oratorio Society will take place at Temple B'rith Kodesh on April 9 at 7 p.m. This is a fund-raising event, with dessert in the intermission. Many participants, such as Katherine Lewek, now have international careers.

Tickets are $75.00 per person, or $68.00 per person for a table of 8.
For tickets call the ROS office (585) 473-2234 or use

Rochester's most engaging vocal competition returns for its tenth year in CLASSICAL IDOL, Saturday, April 9, 2016, 7:00 P.M., at Temple B'rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Avenue in Rochester. In this gala event, ten rising stars of the international vocal performance scene demonstrate the expressive power of the human voice through polished renditions of the most moving classics of opera, art song and oratorio. Their thrilling performances mark careers in the making as distinguished judges offer constructive commentary in real-time. Cash awards and concert appearances go to the top performers. Audience members sample elegant refreshments in a cabaret setting, then submit their ballots for the Audience Favorite cash award.
Tickets are available through the ROS Office, (585) 473.2234 or online at 
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 feedback from established authorities in the field. Selected from national and
international applicants, twenty vocalists come to Rochester for the semi-final round of the competition, held at Asbury First United Methodist Church on April 8. Panelists choose ten contestants to advance to the final round on April 9.
The 2016 Idol panelists include Metropolitan Opera star soprano and professional vocal performance coach, ERIE MILLS, and international performing artist, Vocal Program Director and Associate Professor of Vocal Performance at Roberts Wesleyan College, CONSTANCE FEE, and ERIC TOWNELL, Artistic Director for the Oratorio Society and for Rochester Lyric Opera. JAMIE JOHNS will be the accompanist, and BRENDA TREMBLAY, Morning Drive Host/Producer for Classical 91.5 FM, will emcee the event.

Rochester's Classical Idol is one highlight of the 70th season of the Rochester Oratorio Society, the region's leading large choral ensemble. Information on the ROS and on Classical Idol is at
Tickets to the final round ($75) are available at 
For more information, contact the Rochester Oratorio Society at (585) 473-2234 or e-mail

The Opera Guild will have three tables in the front.  If you would like to sit with the Guild, tickets to our tables are $68 each.  Please call Dennis Rosenbaum at the Oratorio Society Box Office (585) 473-2234 to register for and purchase Guild table tickets, and also eMail Agneta Borgstedt at for seating arrangements.   

OperaTourOpera Tour

The Opera Guild of Rochester will conduct a tour to the Thieving Magpie (La gazza ladra)
on July 25, 2016. The opera tour flier will be available in April. Please look for it and respond quickly if you'd like to go on the tour. The bus seats 55 people. Look for a reader article about the La gazza ladra in the April Viva Voce.

Return to Contents 

ReaderArticlesReader Articles

This 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.

Persus Vehar on Shot!

"To me music is a perfect blending of the heart and head.  Certainly it is a direct expression of soul.  Yet, as a full-time professional composer and performer, communication to an audience is also important to me.  I believe that a natural evolution from music of the past, wedded to new and different ideas, makes for accessibility and listenability for my audience."  

This website statement describes how I approach composition.  SHOT! is based on traditional opera components that have been successful for centuries--a "drinking song," "death scene," recurrent motives, ensembles sung by conflicting personalities, recitatives and arias, etc.   However, the musical style includes syncopation and mixed meters, American melodies popular in 1901, jazzlike elements, dissonance weaving in and out of consonance, and chromatic inflections within a diatonic technique.

A Vaudevillian, like a Greek Chorus, introduces scenes with original recitatives and 1901 melodies with innovative accompaniments, in order to attain a unity of style so important to any lengthy musical work.  Before the last scene-- after a "McKinley Two-Step" written for the McKinley Clubs of the time--my gay 90's-type ballad telling William and Ida McKinleys' love story recalls again the music of their era.

The original idea by Valerian Ruminski--to tie an important event like the McKinley assassination in Buffalo to the community itself--was attractive.  However, presidential photos of McKinley showed a man seemingly devoid of personality.  As librettist Gabrielle Vehar and I did research at the McKinley Museum (OH), the History Museum (NY), the First Ladies Library & Museum (OH), and other sources, we discovered that McKinley had never lost an election except one.  So, there must have been something about McKinley that related to prospective voters.  In Act I, Scene 1, the Reception Line shows his personal "grass roots" approach that drew people to him.  

Puccini, Beethoven, and other past composers set their works in a particular period because it reflected contemporary issues. I was attracted to McKinley's period because it contained issues still present in our time -- gun control, assimilating immigrants, equality for all, huge economic differences between the "haves" and the "have-nots," mental problems, war, etc.  Also, the random shooting of Congressperson Gabrielle Gifford had just occurred, with its shocking effects both personal and professional.  I wanted very much to expose the results of terrorism in operatic form, bringing together all the arts, with full orchestra and dancers, in an historical, beautiful Buffalo theater.

In a presidential election year, with costumes, lights, sets, and digital effects, SHOT! presents America's problems in a forceful and valuable way.  SHOT! makes people aware of current situations, offers possibilities, and submits the solution of coming together to solve our individual & collective troubles.

- Composer Persis Vehar

From your Opera Guild 
January is a busy month for the Guild, which presents "Beat the Blahs" on Sunday afternoons at Temple B'rith Kodesh and the lecture/listening series on Monday evenings at Brighton Library.  The lectures continue into the first two Mondays of February, and then pick up again in March in Penfield and Fairport (see listings.)  

We did have a glitch at "Beat the Blahs" last month.  Art Axelrod was unable to present on January 10, and since the presenter prepares the talk to go with the opera, Carol Crocca stepped in with her presentation on Giovanna d'Arco instead of the scheduled Tsarina's Slippers. The latter was given on January 24, which was the originally scheduled date for Giovanna d'Arco.  We were not organized to get the word out on the change, and apologize to those of you who may have missed an opera you wanted to see. In future, we will post any changes on and, if time allows, notify the newspaper. This may have been the first time such a thing has happened; let's hope it is also the last!   

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 will receive an invitation to the Annual Recital in May 2016, 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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Submission deadline for the next issue is the 15th of the previous month

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