< News & Press

Opera Carolina courting new fans

February 14, 2008

  • date
    February 14, 2008
  • article type
  • category
    Opera Carolina News

Opera Carolina courting new fans

While Valentine's Day is still fresh in everyone's minds, Opera Carolina presents "Love Notes," an evening of romantic-themed music that includes favorites as well as little-known gems. Opera Carolina aims to make this an annual event equal in stature to its full-length operas. So it's bringing in eight leading singers from past and future productions. The Charlotte Symphony will perform, conducted by Opera Carolina's general director, James Meena. The company hopes newcomers to opera will like the sampler format. "People who think they may not like opera find it more approachable this way," says Meena, who has led similar concerts in other cities. "It's a great entree to the art form."

• Charlotte native Todd Geer, who played the murderous clown in "Pagliacci" last season, will go into wooing mode with the "Flower Song" from Bizet's "Carmen" and the aria the Three Tenors made a worldwide hit -- "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot."

• Jane Dutton, from the cast of this month's "Aida," will offer glimpses of Carmen and another great temptress, Delilah from Saint-Saens' "Samson and Delilah."

• Israel Lozano, who played a two-timing cad last season in "La Vida Breve," will sing the softer-hearted Rodolfo's aria from Puccini's "La Boheme."

• Mark Rucker, who played Macbeth here in 2004 in Verdi's version of the Shakespeare drama, will wipe the blood from his hands by singing about love from above in "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

Have you ever seen Puccini's "Edgar"? Baritone Luis Ledesma, also from last season, will sing the aria of a man in love: "a beautiful piece," Meena said, "but totally unknown by the majority of our audience."

• Verdi's "A Masked Ball," which Opera Carolina hasn't staged since 1973, is far from familiar. A soprano aria will introduce Lori Phillips, who will play Puccini's ice princess Turandot for the company next season. Baritone Rucker will add another excerpt from "Masked Ball": the powerful soliloquy of a man who's heartbroken about his wife's supposed infidelity.

• And bass Kristopher Irmiter, who will play the libertine title character in Mozart's "Don Giovanni" next month, will re-introduce himself after a 16-year absence with a Broadway favorite, "Some Enchanted Evening."

That's what Opera Carolina hopes is in store.

Opera Carolina spotlights some of its leading singers of past and future in opera excerpts.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Dana Auditorium, Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Ave.
TICKETS: $20-$60.
DETAILS: 704-372-1000; www.operacarolina.org.

by Steven Brown
The Charlotte Observer