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"The Flying Dutchman" celebrates Wagner's 200th birthday

February 10, 2014

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    February 10, 2014
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    Opera Carolina News

"The Flying Dutchman" celebrates Wagner's 200th birthday

Opera Carolina's production of Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) celebrates the 200th birthday of composer Richard Wagner. Combining the world's finest artists with Opera Carolina's resident company, The Flying Dutchman performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 22; at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 30. This first Wagner production in 20 years for the local company is a romantic treasure, and a fitting conclusion to Opera Carolina's season theme, "The Architects of Love." Wells Fargo Private Bank is Opera Carolina's 2013/14 season sponsor.

"The cast has star power," said James Meena, general director and principal conductor of Opera Carolina. "We are especially thrilled to re-introduce audiences to Greer Grimsley, one of the world's most prominent Wagnerian singers, who last performed with Opera Carolina in 1998 as Don Giovanni."

Bass-baritone Grimsley plays the title role with ferocity, and is widely considered the foremost Dutchman in the world. He gave a tour-de-force performance last year as Wotan in the Met's Ring Cycle. He will be joined in Charlotte by tenor Jason Wickson, who is emerging as one of the next leading tenors in the U.S., as Erik and Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano Luretta Bybee as Mary.

Joining these luminaries are: soprano rising star Elizabeth Beers Kataria as Senta; North Carolina native Kristopher Irmiter as Daland; and University of South Carolina voice professor Daniel Stein as the Steersman. They will be joined by the 60-voice Opera Carolina Chorus, the Gay Men's Chorus of Charlotte and the Charlotte Symphony.

Wagner based his opera on the legend of the titular Dutch sea captain condemned to roam the seas in search of love. The legend appears in literature, theater and pop music. Tori Amos, Jimmy Buffett and Rufus Wainwright have made musical reference to the ship that can never reach port.

The Flying Dutchman will be performed in German with English supertitles. For ticket information, call 704.372.1000 or visit www.operacarolina.org. A 25 percent discount is available for season ticket holders, and a 50 percent discount is available for youth up to age 16, $10 Student Rush tickets and various group discounts are available for all shows.

About The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman premiered in Dresden in 1843 as a one-act opera. To conform to then-contemporary tastes, Wagner later divided the opera into three acts. Opera Carolina will perform the piece in two acts, with acts two and three being contiguous.

The Norwegian coast is the setting for the redemptive romantic saga about the Dutch sea captain fated to endlessly sail his phantom ship in search of love. Once every seven years, he may come ashore in search of a woman who will redeem him from his deathless wandering if she gives him faithful, absolute love; failing this, he is condemned to sail the seas until the Day of Judgment.

Maestro James Meena will conduct. Fenlon Lamb is the stage director, and Michael Baumgarten serves as director of production and lighting designer. The set designer is Peter Dean Beck.

About the Cast
Note to editors: For photography and complete cast biographies, please visit: operacarolina.org/press.

The cast includes Metropolitan Opera bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the Dutchman; tenor Jason Wickson as Erik; Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano Luretta Bybee as Mary; soprano rising star Elizabeth Beers Kataria as Senta; Kristopher Irmiter as Daland; and University of South Carolina voice professor Daniel Stein as the Steersman.

The title role will be sung by American bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who is internationally recognized as one of the most prominent Wagnerian singers of our day. He performed the role of Wotan for the Metropolitan Opera's Ring Cycle in the Robert Lepage landmark production and with the Seattle Opera last season. This season's engagements include Don Pizarro in Fidelio with Seattle Opera, the Villians in Les Contes d'Hoffmann at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and the High Priest in Samson et Dalila in his hometown with the New Orleans Opera.

Recent engagements in Wagnerian operas include Telramund in Lohengrin with the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Danish Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Seattle Opera and Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde with the Prague National Theatre, the Royal Danish Opera, the Opera de Bellas Artes in Mexico, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Seattle Opera; Amfortas in Parsifal with the Metropolitan Opera.

An active concert artist, Grimsley made his New York Philharmonic debut as Don Pizzaro in Fidelio at the inaugural season of the Lincoln Center Festival. Other concert engagements have included Verdi's Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony at Carnegie Hall; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Seattle Symphony and San Antonio Symphony; the High Priest in Samson et Dalila with Washington Concert Opera; Don Pizzarro in Fidelio with the Saint Louis Symphony; and Scarpia in Tosca with Deborah Voight and the Minnesota Orchestra.

Jason Wickson (Erik) is emerging as one of the next leading tenors in the United States. In a recent performance as Erik in The Flying Dutchman, The New York Times review read, "With his hapless love for Senta, Erik seems ridiculous in many productions, but Mr. Wickson gave him affecting seriousness."

Last season, Wickson debuted Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West with Mobile Opera and Macduff in Verdi's Macbeth with Opera Delaware. In addition, he performed Don Jose in Carmen with Piedmont Opera, and he returned to the Michigan Opera Theatre as the Florestan in Fidelio. On the concert stage, Wickson has performed as the tenor soloist in Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Handel's Messiah and Orff's Carmina Burana.

Soprano Elizabeth Beers Kataria (Senta), a two-time Liederkranz Foundation Wagner Division Vocal Competition finalist and recipient of a study grant from the Wagner Society of New York, debuted the role of Senta in Der fliegende Hollander with Utah Festival Opera in 2013. This marks her Opera Carolina debut.

Previous stage appearances include the title role in Salome, Leonore in Fidelio, Erste Dame in Die Zauberflote, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Magda in La Rondine and concert performances of Massenet's rarely performed Le Cid as Chimene.

She has been a featured soloist in many concerts and recitals, most notably as soprano soloist in the Beethoven Missa Solemnis under the baton of the late Robert Shaw. Beers Kataria is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

American mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee gained international recognition early in her career when she sang the title role in the world tour of Peter Brook's La Tragedie de Carmen. Bizet's heroine has since figured heavily in Bybee's career; she has performed the role in more than 25 opera companies throughout the world. In 2010, she took on the co-directorship of New England Conservatory's Opera Studies program, in partnership with Artistic Advisor Stephen Lord.

Bybee's recent engagements include Dame Marthe in Faust with Arizona Opera, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Seattle Symphony and San Antonio Symphony, Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music with the Pine Mountain Music Festival and Wagner's Ring Cycle with Seattle Opera.

She made her Seattle Opera debut as Princess Maria in Prokofiev's War and Peace and her Frankfurt Opera debut in concert performances of Tancredi. The Verdi Requiem marked Bybee's debut at Carnegie Hall. She also appeared as the mezzo soloist in a Verdi Gala with the Jacksonville Symphony. Bybee created the role of Joanna in Carly Simon's opera, Romulus Hunt, in its world premiere in New York, which was directed by Francesca Zambello and recorded on Angel records.

Bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter has performed more than 70 roles with more than 35 opera companies. He has sung on Opera Carolina's stage many times, beginning with Love Notes (2007-08) and, most recently, in Eugene Onegin (2011-12). He had the title role in The Flying Dutchman with Utah Festival Opera last season, as well as the role of Scarpia in Tosca with Syracuse Opera.

Irmiter's engagements have included his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Scarpia in Tosca; his San Francisco Opera debut as Escamillo in Carmen; his Pittsburgh Opera debut as Orest in Elektra; Ashby in La Fanciulla del West with L'Opera de Montreal; Rucker Lattimore in Cold Sassy Tree with Atlanta Opera and Opera Omaha; Leporello in Don Giovanni with Hawaii Opera; Lodovico in Otello and Capulet in Romeo et Juliette with Atlanta Opera.

He has participated in two world premiere productions. He created the role of Arlington in Wakonda's Dream with Opera Omaha and played T.J. Rigg in the world premiere of Elmer Gantry with the Nashville Opera, which was eventually recorded on NAXOS and won two Grammy awards.

Tenor Daniel C. Stein returns to the same stage where he opened the Charlotte Symphony's 2012-13 season - and made his debut with Maestro Christopher Warren-Green - as soloist for Mozart's Mass in C-Minor.
He has performed with the Winston-Salem Symphony as aria soloist in Bach's The Passion According to St. John and with the South Carolina Philharmonic, Greensboro Symphony and the Gwinnett Symphony in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, as well. He performed in Carmina Burana as a guest artist at High Point University with the Bay Chamber Concerts (Maine), and the Winston-Salem Symphony.

Stein made his debut at Carnegie Hall as soloist for Mendelssohn's Elijah with Manhattan Concert Productions. He has also performed Bach's Magnificat, Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer, Haydn's The Creation and The Lord Nelson Mass, also by Haydn.

A former principal young artist with Opera North (New Hampshire) and resident artist at Opera Carolina, Stein earned a master's degree in music at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He serves on the voice faculty at the University of South Carolina