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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, January 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 Viennese Operettas of Johann Strauss Jr.," presented by Agneta D. Borgstedt 
Monday, January 4, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM
(See Reader Article in December Viva Voce.) 

"Romantic Romps: The Comic Operas of Rossini," presented by Carol Crocca 
January 11, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM
(See Reader Article, The Figaro Fiasco.) 

"Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov," presented by Peter Dundas
Monday, January 18, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

"Donizetti's Anna Bolena, the First of the Three Queens," presented by Rosalba Pisaturo
Monday, January 25, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM

"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.

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 Viennese Operettas of Johann Strauss Jr.," presented by Agneta D. Borgstedt
March 2, 2016 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM 

"The Mezzo Voice in Opera" by Art Axelrod
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 

The Haskell Rosenberg Memorial Series
(Beat the Blahs)
Opera Presentations

Tchaikovsky's The Tsarina's Slippers
Sunday, January 10, 2016 at 1 PM

The Royal Opera House Covent Garden production of a comic Russian opera with Olga Guryakova, Vivold Grivnov, and Larissa Diadkova. Conductor Alexander Polianichko, and director Francesca Zambello. Opera talk by Art Axelrod.

Ponchielli's La Gioconda
Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 1 PM

Vienna State Opera production with Placido Domingo, Eva Marton, Matteo Manuguerra, Ludmilla Semtschuk, Kurt Rydl, Magerita Lilowa. Conductor Adam Fischer, producer and designer Filippo Sanjust. Opera talk by Peter Dundas.

Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco
Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 1 PM

Parma Opera production with Evan Bowers, Renato Bruson, Svetlana Vassileva, Luigi Petroni, Maurizio Lo Piccolo. Conductor Bruno Bartoletti. Opera talk by Carol Crocca.

Meyerbeer's L'Africaine
Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 12:30 PM

San Francisco Opera production with Shirley Verrett, Placido Domingo, Ruth Ann Swensen, Justino Diaz. Conductor Maurizio Arena. Opera talk by Agneta D. Borgstedt.

We meet at the Social Hall (rear entrance) of the Temple B'rith Kodesh, located at 2131 Elmwood Avenue in Rochester, NY.  For complete details, including maps, flyers, and registration forms

Please return your fliers with your choice of operas and the information on the bottom of the flier, which speeds the sign-in process. In the intermissions we have delicious dessert provided by the Opera Guild hostesses.


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
Tickets sold through the Eastman Theater Box Office
433 East Main Street, Rochester NY
Tel: 585-454-2100
More information can be obtained at   

METHDHD Season Live at the Met 

Bizet's Les Pecheurs de Perles - New production 
January 16, 2016

Bizet's gorgeous opera of lust and longing set in the Far East returns to the Met stage for the first time in 100 years. Soprano Diana Damrau stars as Leila, the beautiful Hindu priestess pursued by rival pearl divers. Her suitors are tenors Matthew Polenzani and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien, who sing the lilting duet "Au fond du temple saint," which opera fans know and adore. Director Penny Woolcock explores the timeless themes of pure love, betrayal, and vengeance in a production that vividly creates an undersea world on the stage of the Met. Conductor Gianandrea Nosea brings his romantic flair to the lush score from the composer of Carmen.

Puccini's Turandot
January 30, 2016

Nina Stemme, one of opera's greatest dramatic sopranos, takes on the title role of the proud princess of legendary China. Tenor Marco Berti is Calaf, the brave prince who sings "Nessun dorma" and wins her hand. Franco Zeffirelli's golden production is conducted by Paolo Carignani.

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 Persis Vehar's biography

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. BRENDA TREMBLAY, Morning Drive Host/Producer for Classical 91.5 FM, emcees 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

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.

Reader Article 
The Figaro Fiasco

Carol Crocca

Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) is Rossini's most famous and popular comic opera.  However, at its premiere on February 20, 1816 at the Teatro Argentina in Rome (then titled Almaviva) there was a fiasco.  The composer, although only 23, was already acclaimed throughout Italy as the creator of more than a dozen operas, among them the greatly successful Tancredi and L'italiana in Algeri.  However, the contralto Geltrude Righetti Giorgio who created the role of Rosina that night, after reporting that the audience had not received the first scene well, had this to say:

I was prepared for anything.  ... When they heard only those few words [instead of the usual entrance aria] they exploded in whistles and brawling. ...Booed on all sides, we came to the finale...Laughter, catcalls, and piercing whistles, and silence was established only to be broken by even louder demonstrations.
- As quoted in Weaver, William, The Golden Century of Italian Opera, Thames and Hudson, 1980, NY, NY.

The cause of this disaster?  As was not unusual in Italy at the time, there were factions in the audience that did not want the opera to succeed.  Some were pro-Paisiello, partisans of the most popular Italian composer of the 18th century, whose own Barbiere was still being performed.  Others were supporters of a rival theater, who objected because the Teatro Argentina was presenting an opera buffa, which until then had been the exclusive province of the Teatro Valle.

The second night, Rossini, who was contractually obligated to attend the first three performances, was 'indisposed.'   However, the public had changed its mind, or the opposition had dissipated, and accorded the second performance a hit.  Again in the words of Geltrude Giorgio:

...we went, all of us, to the imaginary invalid, whose bed was surrounded by many distinguished Roman gentlemen, who had hastened to compliment him.
- Weaver, p. 22                                                               

Since Rossini had virtually grown up in the theater, the reactions of the public probably did not surprise him. In fact, Charles Dickens, sometime later, had occasion to remark on the 'uncommonly hard and cruel character' of the Italian theater public, who seemed 'always to be lying in wait for an opportunity to hiss.' He speculated, 'As there is nothing else of a public nature at which they are allowed to express the least disapprobation, perhaps they are resolved to make the most of this opportunity.'  (Weaver, p. 21.)  He was referring to the ubiquitous censorship and suppression of public opinion by Italy's foreign ruling powers, always afraid that something might spark the smoldering dissent of the populace into rebellion.

Fortunately for us, the Italian composers of the 'golden' century, including Donizetti, Bellini and Verdi, suffered the indignities of this sometimes ludicrous imposition, continuing to produce those masterpieces we continue to enjoy.   And Rossini, of course, was not dissuaded from going on to give us La Cenerentola, La gazza ladra, Armida, La donna del lago, Maometto II, Semiramide, Le Comte Ory, William Tell, and many others.

Carol Crocca will present a lecture with video illustrations about Rossini's comic operas at the Brighton Memorial Library, Monday, January 11, from 7 to 9 pm.

From your Opera Guild 
On Monday, December 21, a six-foot Yamaha grand piano was moved to the Lyric Theater.  This piano has been purchased by the Opera Guild and its use dedicated to the Rochester Lyric Opera in its new home.  Although not brand new, the piano is a fine instrument meticulously maintained by its former owner, and will serve admirably its new function as an accompanying instrument for opera, recitals, and rehearsals.  We join with Rochester Lyric Opera in celebrating this acquisition and look forward to many musical experiences enhanced by its use.

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