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Opera Carolina Opens Season with Verdi’s Il Trovatore

September 19, 2011

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    September 19, 2011
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    Opera Carolina News

Opera Carolina Opens Season with Verdi’s Il Trovatore

Charlotte, N.C., (Sept. 19, 2011) – Opera Carolina’s 63rd season – underwritten by a generous sponsorship from Wells Fargo Private Bank – opens with star power and technical sizzle as opera superstars Denyce Graves and Italian tenor Antonello Palombi take the stage in a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s emotionally charged opera, Il Trovatore (The Troubadour).

The three performances at the Belk Theater, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center are: Saturday, October 15 – 8 p.m.; Thursday, October 20 – 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 23 – 2 p.m. For tickets, call 704.372.1000 or purchase online at www.operacarolina.org. Single ticket prices begin at $15. Student Rush tickets are available for $10 one hour before curtain for each performance. New this season: Adults can bring young people to performances at a 50% discount on the youth ticket. Plus, students (K-12) and chaperones can attend Student Night at the Opera, held during the final dress rehearsal on October 13 at the Belk Theater at 7 p.m. Student Night tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults.

Audiences have come to expect nothing less than sensational performances from the exceptional Graves and the powerful Palombi. These renowned artists, along with internationally acclaimed co-stars Lisa Daltirus and Michael Corvino are complimented by dynamic new scenery that transforms this operatic classic.

General Director and Principal Conductor James Meena notes that Opera Carolina’s significant investment in cutting-edge technology will revolutionize the traditional opera experience. “Utilizing six digital video projectors, we’ve created a production with ever-changing cinematic-styled imagery that replaces conventional theatrical scenery,” he said. “Our goal is to reinvent this great classical art form for contemporary audiences, by combining star-studded talent with vibrant visuals.”

Punctuated by many of opera’s most recognized melodies, Il Trovatore is grand opera at its finest – an intense emotional drama teeming with rivalry, vengeance, romance and intrigue. Sparks ignite as the jealous confrontations and maneuverings of a classic love triangle play out in a creative backdrop that accentuates the resplendent talents of Lisa Daltirus (Lady Leonora), Denyce Graves (Azucena), and Antonello Palombi (Manrico), along with Michael Corvino (Count di Luna) and Kristopher Irmiter (Ferrando). Brian Arreola, assistant professor of voice and opera at UNC Charlotte and Jessie Wright Martin, associate professor of voice at Wingate University, round out the exceptional cast.

About Il Trovatore Il Trovatore has been entertaining audiences since 1853, when it debuted in Rome at the high point of Verdi’s creative and prolific life. It is the second of Verdi’s great trio of treasured works: Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata.

This stirring masterpiece pits bitter political rivals Count di Luna and troubadour Manrico against each other as they compete for the affections of the same woman. Both men, unaware that they are actually brothers, vie for Lady Leonora’s heart. She is the woman of their dreams but another – the gypsy woman, Azucena – will become the prophet of their inescapable nightmare. Azucena kidnapped and raised Manrico (the Count’s younger brother) as her own to exact vengeance on the Count’s father for burning her mother at the stake. Little does the impassioned and honorable Manrico know that he will be the chief agent in a vow of retribution that will destroy everything he holds dear. This is a tale where sweet romance is devoured by a force far more rapturous.

Opera Carolina’s production of Il Trovatore is directed by Jay Lesenger, artistic director of Chautauqua Opera, and conducted by James Meena, general director and principal conductor of Opera Carolina. Projection design was created by John Boeschen. His scenic and projection designs have been seen throughout the U.S. and Canada frequently with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Il Trovatore will be performed in Italian with English subtitles.

The performance presenting sponsor is The Hearst Corporation. The Charlotte Observer is a media sponsor for the 2011-12 Season. Student Night at the Opera is sponsored by Duke Energy's Foundation The Power of Music.

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

About the Cast

Soprano Lisa Daltirus’s recent noted engagements include the title roles of Tosca and Aida, and Leonora in Il Trovatore for the Seattle Opera; Aida for the Portland Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Cincinnati Opera; Cilla in Margaret Garner at New York City Opera. Poised for worldwide acclaim, her professional operatic debut as Tosca earned praise from the New York Times, which noted her “intangible electricity.” Of a subsequent Tosca performance, Opera News reported she is “plainly a star in the making.”

Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. She played to near sold-out performances of Opera Carolina’s 2005-2006 season production of Margaret Garner. USA Today identifies mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as "an operatic superstar of the 21st century," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclaims, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."

Italian tenor Antonello Palombi performs around the world to tremendous acclaim, performing each of the last three seasons at Milan’s famed Teatro alla Scala in Aida, Il Trittico and Il Trovatore. He made his American debut in 2004 as Dick Johnson in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West at the Seattle Opera. Palombi made international news in December 2006 when he took over the role of Radames in Aida at La Scala after booing from opera fans caused Roberto Alagna to walk off the stage. Palombi entered on stage wearing jeans and a black shirt to finish the act, and returned in costume after the interval to sing the remainder of the opera.

Baritone Michael Corvino, dubbed by The Westsider as the “show-stealing baritone” for his “sonorous” voice comes to Opera Carolina following a busy 2010-2011 schedule which includes roles in the Metropolitan Opera productions of Don Carlo, Roméo et Juliette, and Capriccio.

Bass-baritone and Opera Carolina Artist-in-Residence Kristopher Irmiter has been labeled by critics as having a voice that is "velvety, finely handled, richly expressive, alternately stentorian, and tender," and having acting abilities that are "especially noteworthy, first-rate, sharp timing, enough comic talent to succeed on his acting ability alone." His repertoire includes more than 70 performances with more than 30 opera companies across the country.

About Opera Carolina
Founded in 1948 as the Charlotte Opera Association by a small group of volunteers, today Opera Carolina is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas with an operating budget of over $2.5 million for the fiscal year 2012. The mission of Opera Carolina is to inspire the region’s diverse community through the presentation of excellent Opera, Operetta, and Education & Outreach programs that elevate the quality of life in the Carolinas. Opera Carolina is a community resource with a commitment to artistic excellence and community service.

Opera Carolina is supported by individuals and corporations throughout the region. Opera Carolina is also supported, in part, with operating support from the Arts & Science Council. Additional support is provided by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Opera Carolina is a member of OPERA America.