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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


Edition Viva Voce, May 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   

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 Guild Hosts Tour to Glimmerglass Festival
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

Photo: Musa Ngqunwana as Porgy and Talise Trevigne as Bess Photo © by Karli Cadel

The Opera Guild of Rochester is hosting a tour to the Glimmerglass Fesival to see Porgy and Bess  
on Monday, July 31 at 1:30 pm. Click Here for flyer and to register. Tour includes breakfast on the bus, lunch catered at Glimmerglass Pavilion with a private introduction to the music, and dinner on the return trip at the Brewster Inn.

Set in Catfish Row by the shores of Charleston, South Carolina, George Gershwin's classic work deals with the attempt of Porgy, a disabled beggar, to create a home for himself and Bess, a young woman whose troubled past threatens to consume her present. Porgy and Bess is one of the pillars of the American opera repertory, with unforgettable melodies including "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," and "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin."

This production will be sung in English with projected titles in English.
John DeMain conducts with staging by Francesca Zambello.


Finger Lakes Choral Festival
Finger Lakes Choral Festival

"When Love Goes Wrong" 
Romantic Tragedies in Opera
Hochstein Performance Hall
The Penfield Symphony, conducted by Andy Horn
Sunday, July 23 at 4pm

Some of the most exciting and memorable music of Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Grieg, Bizet, and even Wagner will be performed, featuring selections from Lucia di Lammermoor, Aida, Il Trovatore, Otello, Carmen, Dido & Aeneas, and Faust. As a respite from the heart-wrenching drama of end-to-end love disasters, the festival will include the glorious and redemptive final scenes of Turandot and Tannhauser.

Registrations for those who wish to sing in the chorus for this event are now being accepted. Rehearsals begin on May 31.

Soloists will be Madeline Cain (soprano), Jessica Best (mezzo-soprano), Evan Thomas Jones (baritone), and Keith Ikaia-Purdy (tenor).

The event is FREE, but call for tickets.

For more information, Click here or call 585-465-0838


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

This annual competition honors the memory of Eastman's beloved German professor, Jessie Kneisel. The repertoire for the preliminary audition consists of three German lieder, one of which must be by Schubert.  From the initial audition, six singers are chosen for the finals where each participant prepares thirty minutes of German lieder representing a variety of composers.  In the finals, each singer performs for twenty minutes with the first ten minutes consisting of repertoire chosen by the singer and the final ten minutes of repertoire chosen by the panel of faculty members. Substantial cash prizes are awarded to the top four singers as well as the top four pianists.  

For more general information about the competition, Click Here

Met201617SeasonMet HD 2016-2017 Season

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

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

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. 


Seagle Music Colony
2017 Summer Season

999 Charley Hill Road
Schroon Lake, NY 12970

Click Here for an article on Seagle Music Colony that appeared in Viva Voce May 2016 edition.   

The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel
(New opera based on a novella by Elizabeth Spencer)
July 5,6,8 at 8 pm, July 7 at 2 pm

Seagle Music Colony's 102nd season will begin with this stunning 2005 Tony and Drama Desk winning musical by composer Adam Guettel. Based on the novella by Elizabeth Spencer, the story follows Margaret and her daughter Clara as their lives are changed forever after a summer in beautiful Italy. The gorgeous score has been hailed for its romantic and operatic music - a perfect fit for our talented emerging artists. 

The Magic Flute by Mozart
(Sung in German with projected English supertitles and English dialogue)
August 2,3,5 at 8 pm, August 4 at 2 pm

My Fair Lady by Lerner & Loewe
August 16,17,19 at 8 pm, August 18 at 2 pm

Little Red's Most Unusual Day by John Davie, Children's Opera
(Boathouse Productions)

July 8 at 10,11:30 am

John Davie's take on the traditional Little Red fairy tale includes Dudley the forest ranger and a man-crazy grandma who both take on the big bad wolf.  Using music of Rossini and Offenbach, this 30-minute opera is fun from beginning to end. FREE admission, reservations suggested. 

Individual tickets go on sale April 1, 2017.
Call the box office at (518) 532-7875 or visit


Glimmerglass Festival Season 2017

Porgy and Bess
George Gershwin/DuBose Heyward & Ira Gershwin
July 7-August 22

Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II
July 8-August 22

G.F. Handel/Nicol Minato & Silvio Stampiglia
July 15-August 18

The Siege of Calais
Gaetano Donizetti/Salvatore Cammarano
July 16-August 19

Single tickets start at $26. More information at or call the box office at (607) 547-2255.


Opera Saratoga 2017 Summer Season 
The Spa Little Theater
21 Roosevelt Drive, Saratoga, NY 12866

Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto by Arrigo Bolto
(sung in Italian with English Supertitles)
July 1,6 at 7:30 pm
July 10,15 at 2 pm

Zemire Et Azor by Andre Gretry 
(Beauty and the Beast)
Libretto by Jean Francois Marmontel

(sung in French with English supertitles)
July 2 at 7:30 pm
July 8,14 at 2 pm

Single tickets $95, $72.50, and $50. Subscribers save up to 15% off single tickets.
Contact the box office at (518) 584-6018 or go to

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Chautauqua Opera Company Season 2017 

by Claudio Monteverdi
(sung in Italian with English supertitles)
July 8 at 8:15 pm, Chautauqua's Historic Amphitheater
Tickets $43 or Gate Pass

Orpheus, the man who could charm death itself with his music, travels to the underworld to retrieve his lost love, Euridice. The Chautauqua Opera Company presents the U.S. stage premiere of Ottorino Respighi's dazzling realization of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo. Come hear what happens when luscious and romantic orchestration is married to the rich melodies of one of the first operas ever composed.

Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti (sung in Italian with English supertitles)

Libretto by Giovanni Ruffini
July 28, 31 at 7:30 pm, Norton Hall
Tickets required. Reserved seating, $52, $42, $15, Youth, $10.

True Italian farce returns to the stage of Norton Hall, continuing Chautauqua Opera's dedication to performing operas for the entire family. Hijinks ensue when the aging bachelor, Don Pasquale, pursues the spirited Norina, hoping to trap himself a much younger wife. Don't miss Donizetti's hilarious tale of love and deception.

Hydrogen Jukebox by Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg
July 27 and August 1 at 4 pm, Norton Hall

Tickets $17

Experience the collaboration of two of America's most revolutionary artists, composer Philip Glass and poet Allen Ginsberg, in this unique chamber opera. Hydrogen Jukebox paints a portrait of America approaching the end of the millennium, touching on political and social issues that are more timely than ever. Six Chautauqua Opera Apprentice Artists take the spotlight in this work which perfectly reflects the mix of arts and humanities that is the spirit of Chautauqua.

Ticket Office: Tel (716) 357-6250 or Click Here; call for parking fees and details.


Smith Opera House
82 Seneca St.

Geneva, NY 14456

Don Giovanni by Mozart
July 27 and 29 at 7:30pm
July 30 at 3pm

Don Giovanni will be sung by Valerian Ruminski, bass baritone and Nickel City Opera Music Director.

Tickets: Adults, $35.00; Children K-12, free. Call (315) 781-5483 for tickets.    


Dido&Aeneas Logo
Pegasus Early Music
Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center
Hart Theater  
1200 Edgewood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell
August 10, 12 at 8 pm, August 13 at 7:30 pm

The first English opera, composed in 1688 and still fresh, tuneful and engaging, tells the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her doomed relationship with the Trojan Prince Aeneas, bound by fate to abandon her for Italy. In the course of the drama we also meet a wicked sorceress, a drunken sailor, and various witches, spirits, and courtiers, all wrapped in emotionally-affecting music from the heartbreaking to the comedic.

With Grammy-award winner Virginia Warnken as Dido; Jesse Blumberg as Aeneas; Laura Heimes as Belinda and Luthien Brackett as the Sorceress. Directed by Andrew Eggert; musical direction by Michael Beattie; design by Julia Noulin-Merat.

Tickets $100 (Patron), $35, and students, $20. For more information, Click Here.
Call box office at (585)461-2000

FingerLakesOperaThe Finger Lakes Opera

Canandaigua Academy Auditorium 
435 East Street, Canandaigua, NY 14424

Tosca by Puccini
Friday, August 11 at 7:30 pm 
Sunday, August 13 at 2 pm

Tickets are $75, $50, $40 and Students, $25.
Blocks of 10 or more tickets receive a 10% discount. 
For Finger Lakes Opera Facebook page
Click Here.
To visit the Website or buy tickets Click Here

The Tosca production will feature Met Opera soprano Jennifer Rowley as Tosca, Yeghishe Manucharyan as Cavarodossi, Crey Crider as Scarpia, and Jamie Offenback as Angelotti.  Fenlon Lamb is stage director and Gerard Floriano is the artistic director and conductor. 

Directions from Rochester: 490 East to 90 East to exit 44, Canandaigua.  Follow Rt. 332 south into the Village of Canandaigua.  Left onto Chapel Street.   Canandaigua Academy will be ahead on the right.  

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BardSummerscapeBard SummerScape

Bard College
Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater
60 Manor Ave, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504
Dimitrij by Antonín Dvořák
American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director
Directed by Anne Bogart
July 28, August 4 at 7:30 pm
July 30, August 2 at 2 pm

Acclaimed at its 1882 premiere for its strong dramatic moments, original melodies, and masterful choral writing, Antonín Dvořák's Dimitrij was widely regarded as one of the most significant works created for the Czech operatic stage. Based on events of 17th-century Russia, Dimitrij resumes where Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov leaves off-vividly depicting the uncertainty, tribal loyalties, and struggles for power in the wake of the revered tsar's death.

Tickets from $25- $95 call box office at (845)758-7900. For more information, Click Here.


2017 Classical Idol Winners
Photo by Brigid Harrigan
Left to right:
 Junhan Choi, Megan Barrera,
Gillian Cotter, and Daniel Moody
2017 Classical Idol  
Competition Winners 

Chosen from a field of 70 international applicants from across the U.S, Canada and abroad, ten finalists competed for cash awards before a live audience and a panel of expert judges, who offered constructive feedback on their performances, on Saturday April 8.

First prize went to MEGAN BARRERA, a Florida soprano of Cuban-Puerto Rican descent, who sang an aria from Florencia en al Amazonas, by the Mexican composer Daniel Catán. Buffalo native GILLIAN COTTER, a soprano, won Second Prize with her piece from American composer Jake Heggie's opera Dead Man Walking that invoked an awed silence from the listeners. Taking Third, countertenor DANIEL MOODY, a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, offered an excerpt from A Midsummer Night's Dream, by the English composer Benjamin Britten. Finishing Fourth and winning the Audience Favorite award was baritone JUNHAN CHOI, performing the perennial opera hit, Largo al factotum, from Rossini's Barber of Seville.

LotteLenyaWinners2017 Lotte Lenya Competition Winners

On Saturday, April 22, in two sessions, fourteen finalists competed for $45,000 in prizes. The talent was so competitive that the eleven finalists who did not place were each awarded a $3,000 special prize.

First place was awarded to Bradley Smoak, who has appeared with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Theater of St. Louis, and Boston Lyric Opera, among others, and has made his international debut with the Wexford Festival Opera.

Second place was awarded to Filipe Bombonato, a graduate of the University of Florida in Musical Theater, who has appeared in national tours of Cats and Man of La Mancha, and many other shows. 

Third place was awarded to Paulina Villarreal, a graduate of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, who is currently a Young Artist at Cincinnati Opera.  She has been a fellow at Tanglewood Music Center and appeared with the Boston Pops, Kentucky, Appalachian, and Cincinnati Orchestras. 

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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

 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.

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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  We generally limit articles to 500 words.  All submissions are subject to editorial review.

Pushkin, Tchaikovsky and Eugene Onegin
by Rachel Stuhlman

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin (1799 - 1837) is Russia's national treasure. Poet, playwright and author of short stories, Pushkin was a cosmopolitan, cultured man who led a wild life. He was extremely well read, conversant with French literature, inspired by Russian history and folk stories. He was also a liberal in an age of autocracy, writing satirical, bawdy and sometimes subversive epigrams that condemned him to long periods of exile.

Eugene Onegin, his long novel-in-verse, is regarded as his supreme achievement. The poet himself called it his best and favorite work. Its seven chapters were composed between May 1823 and November 1828, with further revisions by the author in 1831. The 389 stanzas in Eugene Onegin are written in the famous Onegin stanza form, a tour-de-force realized with extraordinary skill and finesse. Despite the rigorous, complex rhyming structure, the work has a casual, conversational tone, a light touch.

Pushkin's tale combined fully realized, psychologically complex characters with long digressions on life and society in all its aspects, often with a sting in the final couplet. He dwells on the beauty of the Russian countryside and the life of its people, serfs and landowners, and muses on the great themes of love, convention and misplaced passion. There are frequent autobiographical passages, filled with a sometimes bitter sense of loss. The omnipresent narrator's voice stands in for Pushkin himself.

Pyotr Iliyich Tchaikovsky was inspired by the works of Aleksandr Pushkin. At a time when opera was regarded as music's supreme artistic form Tchaikovsky turned to Russia's greatest poet for source material. From the 1825 play Boris Godunov he set a scene for a projected opera, now lost. His Mazeppa of 1881-83 drew its libretto from Poltava, Pushkin's historical poem of 1828-29. The Queen of Spades, composed in 1890, was inspired by a short story of the same title written in 1833, though Tchaikovsky took considerable liberties with the text.

Tchaikovsky began writing his masterpiece Eugene Onegin in May of 1877 during a period of great emotional turmoil. He had contemplated marriage in order to quash rumors of his homosexuality. On July 6 he married Antonina Milyukova. It proved an utter disaster. Tchaikovsky soon fled his wife in a state of panic and loathing, never to see her again. Ever after he referred to her as "the reptile." Later, recuperating in Europe, Tchaikovsky found solace in resuming his work on Eugene Onegin, completing it on February 3, 1878.
The composer had decided to set long passages of Pushkin's original text, often quoted verbatim. He crafted his opera from different episodes, knowing that his audience was familiar with the original narrative and all its digressions. He also inserted another poem by Pushkin into Eugene Onegin. It is the melancholy song of the sisters Tatyana and Olga that begins Act One.

It is well known that Tchaikovsky identified with his heroine. But Pushkin too expressed great sympathy for Tatyana despite all her faults, from her overwrought personality to her propensity for "trashy" novels. He even likened her to his Muse, though he made her the most miserably unhappy girl in all of literature.

What Tchaikovsky chose to leave out of the opera is as revealing as what he kept. The most noticeable difference is the absence of the authorial voice, the poet observing the action and commenting on the deficiencies of his protagonists. The many digressions, the ironic tone and satirical asides on the shallowness and deceit of society, his own wry farewell to the passions and despairs of love are all absent from the opera. Irony was not a part of Tchaikovsky's vocabulary. There is Tatyana's famous Letter Scene, but not Eugene's letter that mirrors hers and in the novel-in-verse is given equal weight. Tchaikovsky omits Tatyana's famous nightmare, that terrifying, erotic phantasmagoria presaging Lensky's violent death by Onegin's hand. Likewise there is no allusion to her superstitious belief in divination, especially the gift of prophesying marriage from certain omens. There is no scene of her disillusionment when, in his absence, she enters Onegin's house, and in the library finds an entirely commonplace selection of books, superficially annotated. It is a moment when Tatyana realizes that she had projected upon Onegin all of her passion and longing for an ideal union, a passion fostered by the old-fashioned novels that had captivated her for so long. Nor does Tchaikovsky depict Tatyana being carted off against her will to the Moscow marriage market, where she catches the eye of some fat General.

Tchaikovsky also chose not to set the first chapter of the novel, where the reader meets Onegin. He is intelligent, he is bored, he is cynical, he is selfish, and gradually he withdraws, a misanthrope as lost to society in his own way as Tatyana is in hers. Tchaikovsky's reading of the character is close, but lacks the full force of Eugene's profound alienation. He does not show how, in the midst of St. Petersburg's glittering society, Onegin gradually comes to renounce the frivolity, the fashionable posturing and intrigues, the frantic pursuit of pleasure. He grows tired of his own affectations and the empty life he leads, withdrawing into a profound isolation.  

And what did Tchaikovsky add? Most noticeably he transformed that fat general into Prince Gremin, whose noble aria adds a bass voice to the mix. The choruses and songs of happy serfs are likewise amplified, woven into the drama in counterpart to the emotions of the chief characters. Within the duel scene, the fugal play of the two voices, tenor and baritone, and their convergence in the word "nyet" have a plangent quality that is pure Tchaikovsky, though the text follows closely the original poem.

And then there is the ending. The opera concludes resoundingly with Onegin's tormented cry "Ignominy...Anguish...Oh, my pitiable fate!"  Pushkin simply loses interest in the work and abruptly ditches his Onegin.  Of course an opera is not a piece of literature. Opera speaks a different language. The meaning is in the music, vocal and orchestral. Tchaikovsky was right to call his work a series of "Lyrical Scenes," inspired by the far more complex Pushkin novel-in-verse, yet emotionally intense, brilliant and complete in its own right. 

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From your Opera Guild 
Congratulations are due to the Finger Lakes Opera's Board of Directors, Gerard Floriano, Conductor, donors, and all others who were instrumental in reinventing the opera company as a free-standing organization.  This was made necessary by the decision of SUNY Geneseo's new president, Denise Battles, to terminate its relationship with FLO and deprive it of its venue.  This loss to the civic and academic community is regrettable, but at least the region is not deprived of successful company - a company which has given us a thoroughly enjoyable summer festival for several years now.  Your Opera Guild supported this effort financially and we urge you to do the same.

Electronically publishing the newsletter requires a few fairly sophisticated computer skills and we are fortunate to have two accomplished volunteers working in this capacity.  But since it is a job requiring 2-3 days per month on a regular basis, two technical publishers are not enough to make sure we have coverage for times of illness, vacation, computer malfunction, etc.  If you have computer skills, please consider helping with this valuable project, even if you cannot, or would prefer not, to work every month.  Summer is an excellent, less-pressured time to start.  Thanks for your consideration!  Just see the beginning of the newsletter to find a job description and how to let us know of your interest.

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 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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