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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! Currently there are two jobs posted: Event Host or Hostess and Assistant Publisher.  Click on links for the job descriptions.  

Let us know of your interest by contacting Carol Crocca, Director of Development, at operaguildofrochester@gmail.com.


Edition Viva Voce, March 2017

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 in our area. Please visit us at operaguildofrochester.org.   

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 operaguildofrochester@gmail.com.

The Opera Guild of Rochester is also on Facebook. For up-to-date information on opera-related news and events, please visit us on facebook.com/OperaGuildofRochester.

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

OGRLectureSeriesOpera Guild Lecture Series - Notice of Change
Brighton Memorial Library
2300 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, NY 14618, (585) 784-5310

Monday, Feb 27 at 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Verdi's Don Carlo (Rosalba Pisaturo)

Monday, Mar 6 at 7:00 - 9:00 PM

Mozart's Così fan tutte (Peter Dundas)

Monday, Mar 13 at 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Jacques Offenbach's Comic Operas (Agneta Borgstedt). For her Reader Article Click Here.

Monday, Mar 20 at 7:00 - 9:00 PM
This lecture is cancelled.
Monday, Mar 27 at 7:00 - 9:00 PM
Mostly Mozart: Italian Comic Opera in the 18th Century (Carol Crocca)

Met201617SeasonMet HD 2016-2017 Season

La Traviata, Giuseppe Verdi
Sat, Mar 11, 2017 12:55 PM

Sonya Yoncheva sings one of opera's most beloved heroines, the tragic courtesan Violetta, a role in which she triumphed on the Met stage in 2015, opposite Michael Fabiano as her lover, Alfredo, and Thomas Hampson as his father, Germont. Nicola Luisotti conducts.

For a complete synopsis Click Here

Idomeneo, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Sat, Mar 25, 2017 12:55 PM   

Mozart's first operatic masterpiece returns to the Met in the classic Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production, conducted by Music Director James Levine. The superb ensemble includes Matthew Polenzani as the king torn by a rash vow; mezzo-soprano Alice Coote in the trouser role of his noble son Idamante; soprano Nadine Sierra as Ilia; and soprano Elza van den Heever as the volatile Elettra, who loves Idamante to the bounds of madness.

For a complete synopsis Click Here

Eugene Onegin, Peter Tchaikovsky
Sat, Apr 22, 2017 12:55 PM

Tchaikovsky's setting of Pushkin's timeless verse novel is presented on the Met stage in Deborah Warner's moving production, starring Anna Netrebko and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Tatiana and Onegin. Alexey Dolgov sings the role of Lenski, and Robin Ticciati conducts.

For a complete synopsis Click Here

Der Rosenkavalier, Richard Strauss 
Sat, May 13, 2017 12:30 PM

The dream cast of Renée Fleming as the Marschallin and Elīna Garanča as Octavian star in Strauss's grandest opera. In his new production, Robert Carsen, the director behind the Met's recent Falstaff, places the action at the end of the Habsburg Empire, underscoring the opera's subtext of class and conflict against a rich backdrop of gilt and red damask, in a staging that also stars Günther Groissböck as Baron Ochs. Sebastian Weigle conducts the sparklingly perfect score.

For a complete synopsis Click Here

EastmanOperaEastman Opera 

Jules Massenet, libretto by Henri Caïn
April 6, 7, 8 at 7:30 pm  
April 9 at 2:00 pm  
Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater

Tickets sold at Eastman Theater Box Office (585) 274-3000


Syracuse Opera

Friday, Apr 7, 2017, 8 PM
Sunday, Apr 9, 2017, 2 PM
Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin 
Sung in Russian with projected subtitles.

The story concerns a selfish hero who lives to regret his blasé rejection of a young woman's love and his careless incitement of a fatal duel with his best friend.

For more information, Click Here

There will be an Opera Guild of Rochester tour to the Syracuse Opera's performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin on Sunday, April 9, 2017.

For a flyer and registration materials, Click Here

VoiceCompetitions2017April 2017 Rochester Voice Competitions
Eleventh Annual Classical Idol Competition
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 7:30 pm
Temple B'rith Kodesh
2131 Elmwood Avenue
The Rochester Oratorical Society presents the finalists in its annual international competition for young artists on the rise. For more information, Click Here. If you would like to sit with folks from the Opera Guild, Agneta is arranging tables.  These are all at the front, and seats are available at the table discount price of $68 ($28 is tax-deductible). Call Dennis Rosenbaum at 473-2234 to purchase your ticket(s) and  request seating with the Opera Guild; also contact Agneta Borgstedt, President, to inform her of your inclusion in the group.

Lotte Lenya Competition
Saturday, April 22, 2017, admission is free
In prior competitions, 11 am to 3pm, semi-finals; finals in the evening
Eastman School of Music
Kilbourn Hall
The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music sponsors this international competition for versatile singers aged 19-32 who must perform opera/operetta, both older and contemporary Broadway selections, and the music of Kurt Weill.

An all-star panel of judges will preside over semifinals and finals. Semifinalists in New York City will have the opportunity to audition for and be coached by stage, opera and concert performer Judy Blazer and Tony-award winning conductor, director and orchestrator, and Artistic Director of MasterVoices Ted Sperling.  In April, renowned stage director Anne Bogart and Tony-award winning actor and singer Shuler Hensley both join the judges' panel for the first time.  Broadway music director, conductor and orchestrator Rob Berman returns to judge the competition for the sixth time.

For more general information about the competition,
Click Here.


Friends of Eastman Opera Competition Winners

From a very talented field of eight, the following singers took prizes at the Sixteenth Annual Competition on February 10:

First Place, Laura Sanders, soprano.  Ms. Sanders is a first-year master's student at Eastman and will be performing the title role in Cendrillon this spring.

Second Place, Liliana Natalie Buickians, soprano.  Ms. Buickians is a second-year doctoral student at Eastman, who sang the Governess in last fall's Turn of the Screw and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro in spring 2016.

Third Place, Robin Steitz, soprano.  A second-year master's student at Eastman, Ms Steitz was a winner of Eastman's 2016 Voice Concerto Competition and will perform La Fée in Cendrillon this spring.

Honorable Mention, Emma Ritter, mezzo-soprano.  Also a second-year master's candidate at Eastman, Ms. Ritter portrayed Mrs. Grose in Turn of the Screw and will sing Madame de la Haltière in Cendrillon.


The Jessie Kneisel Lieder Competition

Finals: Saturday, May 13, 2017, Kilbourn Hall, 1:00 pm, free and open to the public
Winners' Recital: Saturday, May 20, 2017, Kilbourn Hall, 8:00 pm, free and open to the public

For more general information about the competition, Click Here


Hydrogen Jukebox
The Opera Center 
315 Clinton Street 
Binghamton, NY
7:30 PM April 21, 28
3:00 PM April 23, 30 
For more information, Click here.



Louis Riel
APRIL 20 to MAY 13, 2017
More Info, Buy Tickets
APRIL 30 to MAY 20, 2017
More Info, Buy Tickets

Opera Guild of Rochester Annual Recital for Donors
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 2 pm
Rochester Academy of Medicine, 1441 East Avenue

Our recitalist this year will be Paige Kiefner, a recent graduate of Eastman School of Music. She has appeared as Emily Webb in Ned Rorem's Our Town and in Dialogues of the Carmelites, She Loves Me, and Street Scene. Paige starred as Maria in Roberts Wesleyan's production of West Side Story. Her credits also include Rochester Lyric Opera's production of The Tales of Custard the Dragon and Little Red's Most Unusual Day. She is a section leader in the Third Presbyterian Chancel Choir under the direction of Peter Dubois as soprano soloist. Paige is from Cape Girardeau, MO.

The program, "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History," will include selections by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart, and Donizetti, as well as some more modern repertoire from Broadway musicals.

Ms. Kiefner will be accompanied by Jacob Stebly. He studied Vocal and Opera Performance at the Eastman School of Music.  Since then he has held positions at Syracuse University as a Music Director and Pianist for their Musical Theater Program, as well as assistant to the Rare Books Department at the Sibley Music Library.  He has recently appeared in You're Gonna Love Tomorrow with the Rochester Lyric Opera and was music director for A Little Night Music with Syracuse University. 


As an Amici, your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated.

All donation levels below receive an invitation to the Annual Recital. (See Annual Recital  information.)

Chorus: $60-$99
Comprimario: $100-$149, 4 passes to Beat the Blahs or two additional recital invitations.
Primo: $150-$199, 5% discount on all trips (except to New York City).
Maestro: $200 or more, 10% discount on trips (except to New York City).
To donate go to  http://operaguildofrochester.org/donate.html

 Of course your donation in any amount is greatly appreciated.

You may also mail a check to Opera Guild of Rochester, P.O. Box 92245, Rochester, NY 14692-0245. Please include an email or other address for your tax receipt.

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 operaguildofrochester@gmail.com.  We generally limit articles to 500 words.  All submissions are subject to editorial review.

Jacques Offenbach and Parisian Life, 1830-1870
by Agneta Borgstedt

Jacque Offenbach was born in 1819 in Cologne, Germany to a synagogue cantor. His father brought him to Paris as a 14-year-old violin-cello student. There his outstanding talent could be nurtured at the Paris conservatory, led by the stern Luigi Cherubini. Offenbach left the strict conservatory life after one year and worked as a cellist in the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique. He was mentored by the composer Fromental Halévy, whose opera
La Juive was a sensational success; and later by Friedrich von Flotow, whose opera
Martha is still a favorite of European opera houses.

During this period, life in Paris began to change, with the beginning of industrialization and the rise of the Bourse. Louis Phillippe of Orleans had begun his reign after the revolution of 1830. Extreme tendencies flourished; the Legitimists or Carlists, that is, the aristocratic population of Faubourg-Saint-Germain, represented the feudal gentry, who regarded the bankers and their "Bourgeois King" as parvenus. At the other extreme were the masses, the workers, who had vainly believed that the part they had played in the July fighting would be rewarded with improvement in their lot. But their wages remained low and their hours long.

Offenbach lived the life of the boulevards, playing in tavern bands, mingling with some of the young and often idle richer members of the bourgeoisie, who ridiculed the nobility but imitated them. He played in the salons, whose hostesses wanted to offer their guests music, which was a universal obsession. Offenbach became one of their favorites. He lived in the moment, sensitive to the changing times.

Society was just developing into its modern form, as the result of the industrial revolution, the consequence of innumerable inventions, the most revolutionary of which was the railway. Also very influential was the commercialization of the press, initiated by Emile Gerardin. Many writer and poets enlisted in the service of the press such as Honoré de Balzac, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Eugène Scribe and George Sand. The press became an important factor in spreading news about musical and other events and was important to the fame of Offenbach's opera bouffes. These often centered about the life of the boulevards, where different social classes met.

Then the worker's plight led to the revolution of June 21, 1848. Louis Philippe was overthrown; at first a "democracy" was established. The proletariat seized power, but class antagonism led to counter-attack by the bourgeoisie, which betrayed its principles and brutally destroyed their fledgling democracy.

Offenbach fled for a year back to Cologne, where some of his family still lived.
The bourgeoisie placed their hopes in Prince Louis Napoleon, who took advantage of the crisis in society. The coup d'etat took place on December 2, 1851; in 1852 the Prince was crowned Emperor Napoleon III. When everything finally was quiet, Offenbach said: "I hope that Paris will again live in joy and glamour as it did before."

Between 1850 and 1880 Offenbach composed about 100 opera bouffes. Under the Emperor, Baron Haussmann rebuilt Paris; new works included the Palace of Industry, part of the Emperor's dream of a world exhibition. Offenbach jumped at the chance to form a new little theatre on the Champs-Elysees and so the Theâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens opened in 1855. Here Hortense Schneider started her career, and all Paris and visitors from all over came to hear his music. By 1858 larger theaters with lavish productions of Offenbach's opera bouffes were the vogue of Paris, starting with the successful Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld).

Parisian life was full of frivolity and Offenbach's works were comic critiques of the lack of reality during the Second Empire of Napoleon III. Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halevy (Fromental's nephew) were the librettists who wrote the majority of Offenbach's productions. The most famous ones are the said Orpheus in the Underworld, in which the gods of antiquity make fun of the world; La belle Hélène, in which the kings of antiquity critique the demoralized court of Emperor Napoleon III; La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, which satirizes the militarism of the court; and La vie parisienne, which sheds light on the falsity of life in Paris, and was much enjoyed by representatives of the European courts including the German Chancellor Bismarck, who visited the 1867 Grand Exhibition. Last of the most famous is La Périchole (1868), which is set in Peru and is based on a play by Prosper Merimee. The play concerns a liaison between an 18th-century cocotte and the Viceroy of Peru. The operetta makes fun of the courtesans in Paris, and the music foreshadows Les contes d'Hoffmann, a serious opera composed ten years later.
The French German War of 1870 ended the feverish gaiety of Parisian life as well as the reign of Napoleon III.

  1. Harding, James, Jacques Offenbach, a Biography, Opera Library, 1980.
    ISBN 000 7145 3835 3
  2. Krakauer, Siegfried, Jacques Offenbach and the Paris of His Time, Zone Books, New York, 2016.

From your Opera Guild 
Art Axelrod continues to heal at home from the his injuries sustained in December from a fall on the ice. The lecture on Opera Ensembles which he was to give this month is cancelled, but we can look forward to hearing it next season.

In addition to great lectures and competitions this month, and splendid events in April and May, the summer calendars of our regional opera presenters are becoming available and will be listed in next month's Viva Voce. So get out your calendars and sharpen your pencils! 

Please consider the Opera Guild of Rochester among your charitable organizations for 2017. Donations to the Opera Guild of Rochester are fully tax deductible and donors will receive an invitation to the Annual Recital in May 2017, which is our gift to our donors, followed by dessert reception with the artists.

To donate online Click Here.  

Enjoy our free Lecture/Listening series, which you can download from the Website at operaguildofrochester.org 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.

Cindy New Ad 2016

Submission deadline for the next issue is the 15th of the previous month

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