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Support Opera Education

In November, we brought a short performance to K-12 students at St. John Bosco School in celebration of National Opera Week. This effort was suggested in a survey last year. Supporters like you told us it was very important to extend our outreach to include the primary grades, not just middle and high schoolers. Many of you recalled fondly memories of a parent or grandparent listening to or singing opera music in the home.

Last month, K-12 students at St. John Bosco in East Rochester listen to opera arias performed by Kurt Griffen, tenor, and Alexandria Beal, mezzo soprano. Zalina Fedetov accompanied on piano.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to support opera programs in Rochester.

Your donation will further support worthy productions, the publishing of Viva Voce, opera lectures, meet-ups following Royal Opera House screenings, and 'Beat the Blahs' on Sunday afternoons in January.

Please donate securely via PayPal, credit card or by check. Or you may mail your donation to: Opera Guild of Rochester, P.O. Box 25613, Rochester, NY 14625. All donors will receive an invitation to our annual recital followed by a reception with the artists at the beautiful Rochester Academy of Medicine.


Edition Viva Voce, January 2019

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.

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.

Our Website and Facebook pages serve as a clearinghouse for local and regional opera, concert, and recital information, with links to other music organizations in our area. Please visit our Website at operaguildofrochester.org.   

For up-to-date information on opera-related news and events, please visit us on facebook.com/OperaGuildofRochester.

Some events are now being recorded.  Click the YouTube logo to visit us there.
For OGR Channel
Reader Article submission deadline for the next issue is the 15th of the previous month.


Jan 6, 13, 20, 27     Rochester Opera Guild      Beat the Blahs (see below)
Jan 12                     Met HD                                 Adriana Lecouvreur

BeatBlahBeat the Blahs, The Haskell Rosenberg Memorial Series
The 2019 Beat the Blahs program has been generously underwritten 
by Angeta D. Borgstedt, M.D.

***PLEASE NOTE CHANGE ON JAN 20TH!*** On our program handout for 2018-19, Elektra is listed. It has been changed to Arabella, below.

Opera DVDs on the big screen, introductions by Opera Guild docents, refreshments at intermission. $9/10 suggested donation; children and students always FREE. 
Temple B'rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Avenue, Sundays, 1-5 pm.

Jan 6 1-5 p.m. Gounod's Mireille
Opera Talk, David Dean
One of Gounod's "French Provence" operas from 1864 and perhaps the first French impressionist opera.

Jan 13 1-5 p.m. Mark Adamo's Little Women
Opera Talk, Carol Crocca
This production, with Joyce DiDonato and Katherine Ciesynski, is of "a beautifully crafted work, brilliantly molding Alcott's tale into operatic form." (The New Yorker) It is a coming-of-age story with a particular focus and great appeal for adults and children alike.

Jan 20 1-5 p.m. Richard Strauss's  Arabella
Opera Talk, Peter Dundas
From 1928. Librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal convinced Strauss to abandon the dissonant style of Electra and to return the lyrical style of Rosenkavalier, with this delightful opera as the result. Today's production features Kiri te Kanawa.

Jan 27 1-5 p.m. Rimsky-Korsakov's  Golden Cockerel
Opera Talk, Art Axelrod
Rimsky-Korsakov's last opera. Two hours long, a satire on military ineptitude with mystical plot elements and beautiful arias and orchestral numbers.

If you are on our snail mail list, you may have received a green flyer which you may return with donation for your selected operas. However, anyone is welcome to come without pre-registration. If you would like to be on our snail-mail list, send your address to PO Box 25613, Rochester, 14625 or visit operaguildofrochester.org for more contact information.

Oasis Winter-Spring trimester

John Bouman, Retired Partner, Nixon Peabody LLP

For a description of this course, see last month's issue of Viva Voce or go to oasisnet.org/rochesterny/classes. There are 12 sessions, Wednesdays, 9:30 -11:00 am, January 9 - March 27. For places still open, register online or call Oasis between 9 am and 3 pm, M-F, at 585-730-8800.

(For those wishing to explore opera without spending a lot of money)

FREE - Friends of Eastman Opera Voice Competition. Look for listing in February 2019 Viva Voce. 8 pm, Kilbourn Hall, Gibbs Street, Rochester.
FREE - The Lotte Lenya Competitionyoung multi-talented singer/actors performing both opera and musical theater selections.  See Viva Voce for Saturday in April, 11am-4 pm and an evening concert, Kilbourn Hall, Gibbs Street, Rochester.
FREE - Opera Guild Lectures in February and March (with many video selections) at Brighton Memorial Library, 7 pm, 2300 Elmwood Ave, Look for listing in January 2019 Viva Voce
$9/10 suggested donation - Opera Guild "Beat the Blahs."  Opera DVD presentations at Temple B'rith Kodesh.  
Four Sundays in January at 1 pm, see the 2019 schedule in this issue.  Pre-performance talk, refreshments at intermission, children and students always FREE.
$18 - Pre-recorded operas from the current season of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden (London). Queen of Spades, Feb. 24, 26; La traviata, March 24, 26; La forza del destino, April 28, 30; Faust, May 26, 28; followed by informal chats in the café.  The Little Theater, 240 East Ave, Rochester. See listing in Viva Voce.
$24; UR students $10 with ID - The Eastman Opera Season:  (Eastman voice students).  Pre-performance talks; see full listing in Viva Voce.
$25 per (senior) ticket - Metropolitan Opera simulcasts in HD of live performances on Saturdays usually at 1 pm.  An encore performance, not live, is given on the Wednesday following for $23.  Theaters are at Tinseltown, Eastview, Webster and Henrietta. See full listing and essays in Viva Voce.
FREE - Opera Guild Bravo Nights at The Little Café, live accompanied singers perform opera favorites in an informal atmosphere.  See Viva Voce for next date, in 2019.


From Sorrow to Joy
Orfeo ed Euridice
In Italian with English supertitles
Music by Christophe Willibald Gluck, Libretto by Ranieri de' Calzabigi
January 31, February 1 and 2 at 7:30 pm; February 3 at 2 pm, Annex 804 Black Box Studio

From Seduction to Damnation
Don Giovanni
In Italian with English supertitles
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
April 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 pm; April 7 at 2 pm, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre

The Voice and Opera Department presents
L'enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Spells)
Sung in French and performed with piano
Music by Maurice Ravel, Libretto by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
May 3 and 4 at 7:30 pm, Annex 804 Black Box Studio

Eastman Theatre Box Office (585) 274-3000; To purchase tickets Click Here

Royal Opera House Film Series at The Little

Sunday performances at The Little are followed by informal meet-ups in the café to chat about the opera with other fans. Everyone is welcome.  

Sunday February 24 (Noon)
Tuesday February 26 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:30

Sunday March 24 (Noon)
Tuesday March 26 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:35

Sunday April 28 (Noon)
Tuesday April 30 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 4:15

Sunday May 26 (Noon)
Tuesday May 28 (6 pm)
Est. RT: 3:45

MetHD2018-2019SeasonMetropolitan Opera HD Season 2018-2019

Cilea, Adriana Lecouvreur
January 12, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Anna Netrebko sings the title role, based on the life of an actual 18th-century actress who dazzled audiences with her on- and off-stage passion. Piotr Becsala is her lover, Maurizio, and Gianandrea Noseda leads the orchestra. The story is superbly set by David McVicar in a working replica of a Baroque theater. For Adriana Lecouvreur essay Click Here.

Bizet, Carmen
February 2, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine reprises her remarkable portrayal of opera's ultimate seductress, a triumph in her 2017 debut performances of Bizet's masterpiece. Tenor Roberto Alagna is her lover, Don José, in Sir Richard Eyre's powerful production, a Met favorite since its 2009 premiere. Louis Langrée conducts.

Donizetti, La Fille du Régiment
March 2, 12:55
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Tenor Javier Camarena and soprano Pretty Yende team up for a feast of Donizetti's bel canto vocal fireworks-including the show-stopping tenor aria "Ah! Mes amis," with its nine high Cs. Maurizio Muraro is the comic Sergeant Sulpice, with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as the outlandish Marquise of Berkenfield and Enrique Mazzola in the pit.

Wagner, Die Walküre
March 30, 12:00 
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
In what is expected to be a Wagnerian event for the ages, soprano Christine Goerke plays Brünnhilde, Wotan's willful warrior daughter who loses her immortality in opera's most famous act of filial defiance. Tenor Stuart Skelton and soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek play the incestuous twins Siegmund and Sieglinde. Greer Grimsley sings Wotan, Fricka is Jamie Barton, and Hunding, Gunther Groissbock. Philippe Jordan conducts.

Poulenc, Dialogues des Carmélites
May 11, 12:00 PM 
Synopsis and other info: Click Here
Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the classic John Dexter production of Poulenc's devastating story of faith and martyrdom. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard sings the touching role of Blanche and soprano Karita Mattila, a legend in her own time, returns to the Met as the Prioress.

OGLectureSeriesOpera Guild of Rochester Lecture Series

Brighton Memorial Library
2300 Elmwood Avenue
Rochester, NY 14618

All lectures are on Tuesdays from 7-9pm.

Tuesday February 26th:
Comparison of Bellini's Mad Scene in I Puritani with Donizetti's in Lucia di Lammermoor.
Agneta Borgstedt.

Tuesday March 5th:
Party Scenes and Drinking Songs.
Art Axelrod.

Tuesday March 19th:
Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss: Scenes and Memories of the 1960 Salzburg Festival Production.
Peter Dundas.

Tuesday March 26th:
The Legacy of Halevy.
David Dean.

Tuesday April 2nd:
Puccini's Heroines.
Rosalba Pisaturo.

RochIntVocCompAnnouncing the Rochester International Vocal Competition

The Rochester Oratorio Society is pleased to announce the rebranding of its signature fundraising event. It will now be known as the Rochester International Vocal Competition. The competition, now in its 13th year, culminates in a final round gala, featuring live performances and real-time commentary from a panel of distinguished judges.

"We see the rebranding as an opportunity to showcase the growth in talent and prestige the competition has gained over the last 12 years," said Eric Townell, Artistic Director of the Rochester Oratorio Society. "What started as a showcase of local talent has expanded in to an internationally respected and highly regarded competition in the classical vocal world."

The final round will be held on May 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Brighton. The evening will feature 9 finalists as well as wine, hors d'oeuvres, desert, coffee, silent auction and raffle. "We look forward to another year of outstanding talent," said Townell.

Rochester Oratorio Society, 1050 East Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607

Left to right: Jorell Williams, First Place, 2018 Competition, Host Julia Figueras, Christine Lyons, Second Place.

Nickel City Opera Season

Villa Maria College, 
May 24 and 26, 2019


The beloved classic opera by Verdi about a woman who is misunderstood and misguided. Violetta falls in love with Alfredo and loses everything. Memorable and popular tunes abound including the drinking chorus 'Libiamo!' Don't miss a full opera with costumes, sets, chorus and a full orchestra at the majestic 1250-seat Villa Maria College Theatre in Buffalo near Pine Ridge and Doat St. Plenty of parking, easy access and a great acoustic will leave your ears ringing with opera. 

Crouse-Hinds Theater at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center
Free conductor's talk an hour prior to each performance

Christian Capocaccia, Conductor
Symphoria Orchestra
Syracuse Opera Chorus, Ensemble

To purchase a subscription, Click Here
Mozart, Don Giovanni
Friday, February 1, 2019 at 8:00 PM  
Sunday, February 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Ophelie Wolf, Director
Marcus DeLoach, Don Giovanni
Julia Ebner, Donna Anna
Pamela Armstrong, Donna Elvira
Robert Mellon, Leporello

Weill, Three Penny Opera
Friday, April 12, 2019 at 8:00 PM  
Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 2:00 PM  
Sung in English with English surtitles.
Cara Consilvio, Director
Peter Kendall Clark, Macheath
Ron Lloyd, Peachum
Melissa Parks, Ceila Peachum
Gregory Sheppard, Tiger Brown

To purchase single tickets, Click Here



Richard Strauss, ELEKTRA
For more details, Click Here
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, COSÌ FAN TUTTE
FEBRUARY 5 TO 23, 2019
For more details, Click Here
Giacomo Puccini, LA BOHÈME
APRIL 17 TO MAY 22, 2019
For more details, Click Here
Giuseppe Verdi, OTELLO
APRIL 27 TO MAY 21, 2019
For more details, Click Here


Feb 22 & March 1, 2019 - 7:30pm
Feb 24 & March 3, 2019 - 3:00pm
Tri-Cities Opera Center
315 Clinton Street
Binghamton, NY 13905

Three Decembers is a 90 minute one-act opera based on Terrence McNally's original script for Some Christmas Letters. The story takes place over three decades of the AIDS crisis, each section recalling the events of a December, as the characters struggle to connect when family secrets are revealed.

For details and tickets, Click Here

 April 28th, 2019 - 3pm
The Forum Theatre
236 Washington St.
Binghamton, NY 13901

Gilbert & Sullivan's beloved operetta takes place aboard the ship HMS Pinafore. The captain's daughter is in love with a lower class sailor although her father intends her for Sir Joseph Porter, the First Lord of the Admiralty. They declare their love for each other and eventually plan to elope. Will their plan succeed?

For details and tickets, Click Here

Pegasus Logo
2018-2019 Season

All concerts at Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh Street, Rochester. Pre-concert talk at 3:15 pm, concert at 4:00 pm

For more information or to buy tickets, Click Here

February 24, 2019 @ 4 pm

It's a musical party as we celebrate with 17th century music and dance from Spain and the New World, including Bolivia, Peru, and Mexico.

April 7, 2019 @ 4 pm

"The magical duo Bedlam" (Fanfare Magazine) is Kayleen Sanchez, soprano, and Laudon Schuett, lute. Our first Pegasus Rising artists, they return to Rochester with a program of renaissance French and English lute songs. Sacred, secular, bawdy and tender!

Acis & Galatea
May 5, 2019 @ 4 pm

A semi-staged concert version of this beloved pastoral opera by Handel. Will the monster Polyphemus woo Galatea to his side? Michael Beattie, musical direction; Emily Cuk, stage direction.

SalonConcertsSalon Concerts with the Rochester Academy of Medicine

Join us for a performance by The Academy Salon Trio 
followed by a reception with the artists.
1441 East Avenue, 14610

21st Salon Concert Season

February 3, 2019
March 24, 2019
April 28, 2019

All concerts take place at 2:00 pm in the Lyon Family Salon in the Rochester Academy of Medicine. Tickets are $35 at the door, $30 with reservation by phone, online or message. $26 Academy Members with reservation and $5 student. Seating is extremely limited. For more information Click Here.

OperaGuildFrom Your Opera Guild

We are at the end of the calendar year, but the opera season is about to go into full swing:  Beat the Blahs, the Lecture Series, more Met HD performances, the F.E.O. and Lotte Lenya competitions, broadcasts from Covent Garden at The Little, and that just brings us through March!  Watch this year for the Rochester International Vocal Competition, formerly known as 'Classical Idol' (click here to see announcement in this issue).

Those of you interested in introducing a young person to opera will have another opportunity this year at Beat the Blahs.  Mark Adamo's adaptation of Little Women captures the spirit of Jo and the March family with lyrical music and an apt libretto.  It is in English with subtitles, and, while it will appeal to children, is very enjoyable for adults as well.  Joyce Di Donato is Jo and a cameo role (Aunt March) is sung by Katherine Ciesinski, currently a professor of voice at the Eastman School.

For us here at the Opera Guild, the New Year starts happily with those Sunday afternoons at Temple B'rith Kodesh, enjoying our favorite art form with fellow fans and holiday goodies at intermission. Hope those of you who haven't joined us yet will do so this year.

Happy New Year!

Carol Crocca


As an Amici, your contribution in any amount is greatly appreciated. All donation levels receive an invitation to the Annual Recital; those listed below will be given priority until a date specified on the invitation, and at the Comprimario level and above may request extra tickets.

Chorus: $50 per person, $80 per couple.
Comprimario: $100-$149.
Primo: $150-$199.
Maestro: $200-$299.
Impresario: $300 or more. 

You may also mail a check to Opera Guild of Rochester, P.O. Box 25613, Rochester, NY 14625. Please include an email or other address for your tax receipt.

Return to Contents

OperaEssaysOpera Essays

This section brings you articles written by Opera Guild docents, previously distributed at HD performances. Other essays previously published as Reader Articles are also published in this section. All these essays are available on the Website in the Reading Room.

EssayAdrianaDeath by Violets
By Rachel Stuhlman

One of the main characters in Adriana Lecouvreur is a bunch of violets. These flowers are the unwitting villains, and their progress through the opera is a virtual plot summary. In Act One they make their appearance as a love token. In Act Two they are repurposed for political reasons and personal expediency. In the following act they are flung about in a cat fight. And in the final fourth act, the now wilted flowers are serenaded by a dying woman and then meet their own fate in the fire.

At the heart of Adriana Lecouvreur is an operatic love triangle. Here it involves the actress Adriana, her lover, the military hero Count Maurice of Saxony, and his old flame, the Principessa de Bouillon. Consumed by jealousy, the Princess turns to "the recipe of vengeance," a poison so terrible that simply inhaling it proves deadly. The story is not some absurdity cooked up by the librettist: like the characters themselves, violets and all, it is grounded in historical fact. The real Adrienne Lecouvreur, as is her operatic counterpart, was the premier tragedienne of her day, adored by the audience of the Comédie Française. Her lover really was Count Maurice of Saxony, the brilliant soldier, Marshal of the French army, political schemer and pretender to the Polish throne. He was a charismatic and brutal man, quite unlike the rather wimpy Maurizio of the opera. And the Countess de Bouillon (elevated in Cilea's opera to the rank of Princess) was one of many women that Maurice had discarded. There was indeed a public confrontation of Adrienne and the Countess. Where the opera departs from historical fact is in the manner of Adrienne's death in 1730 at the age of 37. She died, not from inhaling poisoned violets, but much more prosaically, from dysentery. And yet there is a measure of truth in this melodramatic stage death. Shortly after the real Adrienne died, rumors began circulating that she had been poisoned by a jealous woman. The public fascination with this lurid story of her death persisted: the Countess de Bouillon spent the rest of her life denying it.

Poisons have gone down the throats of many opera singers. Most of those who succumb are women. For every Romeo and Simon Boccanegra there are four heroines who die from poison. Women are also far more likely to be the perpetrators, by a margin of two to one. Most strikingly, there are over twice as many suicides as murders: suicide clearly makes for better theater.

Adriana breathes in the aroma of poisoned violets sent by the Principessa, thinking Maurizio has sent them as a sign that he no longer loves her. She is not the only soprano to die from botanical inhalation or ingestion. Sélika, the heroine of Meyerbeer's L'Africaine, Suor Angelica in Puccini's Il Trittico, and Léo Delibes' Lakmé all choose to kill themselves by deadly plants.

In Meyerbeer's monumental five act Grand Opera, a very fictional Vasco da Gama discovers an "unknown island," and there he finds its Queen, Sélika. She, predictably, falls in love with Vasco, but in the end helps him sail off with his European sweetheart. In despair, Sélika chooses to die by breathing in the perfume of the deadly manchineel tree. Meyerbeer got his botany right but his geography wrong. The manchineel is indeed one of the deadliest plants on earth, but it grows in the Americas, not in Africa. No matter. When inhaled on the operatic stage it induces a final ecstatic vision of the heavens opening.

Lakmé is another exotic woman who chooses a noble and tragic botanical death. This time the setting is India during the British Raj. Lakmé, daughter of the Hindu High Priest, falls in love with an enemy soldier. When he chooses duty over love (shades of Don José in Carmen), she kills herself by eating a poisonous Datura leaf. This plant, also called devil's trumpet, is a member of the deadly nightshade family. It also causes the sort of cathartic death that transports heroines into a sacred realm.

Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) is the title character in the second one-act opera of Puccini's trilogy, Il Trittico. For seven years the nun has kept her secret, but at the same time that the audience learns she has had an illegitimate child, Angelica learns that her son has been dead for two years. In a heartbreaking scene Angelica addresses the flowers she has gathered, calling them her friends ("Amici fiori"), then brews a lethal drink of hemlock, oleander and belladonna. The muffled drum beat of a death march gives way to an eerie glissando of harp and flute as the poison begins to work, and her elation suddenly turns to terror. She begs the Virgin Mary to save her from damnation, and is redeemed by a miracle. Or perhaps the sight of her son is just a hallucination caused by the oleander.

In these operas, plants and flowers are merely a plot device enabling the heroine to kill herself. By contrast, the violets of Adriana Lecouvreur play a vital role in the bitter rivalry between actress and princess. At the end, their death is mourned in the great aria "Poveri fiori," (Poor flowers), an expression of utter despair at the loss of love. Giving them "the last kiss, or the first, the kiss of death, the kiss of love," Adriana breathes in the perfume of that withered posy, and the stage is set for the inevitable, tragic denouement.

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