Austin Pendleton Directs Boston Midsummer Opera's DON PASQUALE, Now thru 7/29
For its seventh season Boston Midsummer Opera (BMO) presents the comic piece, Donizetti's Don Pasquale, playing at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University for three performances only, tonight, July 25, 27, and 29. Obie Award winner/Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton directs the fully staged and costumed production. Music director and nationally acclaimed conductor Susan Davenny Wyner leads the performances, which will be performed with orchestra and sung in English. Metropolitan Opera bass Ricardo Lugo will sing the role of Don Pasquale.
Don Pasquale is an opera whose score bursts with life and lyricism and whose drama has a few surprises along the way, especially at Don Pasquale's expense. The old bachelor Don Pasquale plans to marry in order to punish his rebellious nephew, Ernesto, who is in love with the young widow Norina. Pasquale wants an heir so he can cut the young man off without a penny. He consults Dr. Malatesta, who suggests as a bride his own beautiful younger sister. Feeling his youth returning, the delighted Pasquale tells Malatesta to arrange a meeting at once. Ernesto learns that his friend Malatesta has arranged Pasquale's marriage and feels betrayed, but little does he know that Dr. Malatesta is in fact plotting on Norina and Ernesto's behalf. Will Don Pasquale end up happy and with a wife by his side, or will he join the others in observing that a spirited young bride is not always the best match for a curmudgeonly old bachelor?
Puerto Rican bass Ricardo Lugo (Don Pasquale) is a versatile, much in demand international performer, making his BMO debut in Don Pasquale. This season he returns to the Metropolitan Opera for productions of Ariadne auf Naxos and La fanciulla del west. His work at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2009--2010 season included productions of Ariadne auf Naxos and The Nose, and he has also participated in the Met's productions of Macbeth, Adriana Lecouvreur, The Gambler and Salome. Mr. Lugo has appeared as Timur in Puccini's Turandot with DiCapo Opera Theater, and his concert engagements have included Verdi's Requiem with the Mexico State Symphony, the Music in the Mountains Festival in Colorado, and Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.
Soprano Leslie Ann Bradley (Norina) attended Tanglewood and the Académie International de musique Maurice Ravel in France, studying with the renowned Françoise Pollet. Her success there was marked by receiving the Prix du chant Pierre Bernac as winner of the Academy's voice competition. She was featured in Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with both the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Hamilton's Bach-Elgar Choir, sang Micaëla in Peter Brook's Tragedy of Carmen with the Boston Midsummer Opera, and was heard in Orff's Carmina Burana with the Victoria Symphony. Hailed for her performance in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Winnipeg Symphony, Ms. Bradley debuted last season with the Calgary Philharmonic in Carmina Burana. Further engagements included recitals for Toronto Summer Music and a New Year's Day concert in Victoria devoted to the music of operetta. In 2011-2012, she sang Carmina Burana for Brott Summer Music, Brahms' Requiem for the Mendelssohn Choir, appeared in recital for the Elora Festival and Aldeburgh Connection and was Micaëla in Carmen for Pacific Opera Victoria. Leslie Ann Bradley was a Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions Northeast Regional prize-winner.
Baritone David Kravitz (Dr. Malatesta) was last seen with BMO in its 2011 production of TheItalian Girl in Algiers and with the BMO in its 2006 production, The Marriages of Mozart. He made his New York City Opera debut in Strauss's Intermezzo, and his European debut at Monte Carlo's Salle Garnier in the world premiere of Tod Machover's Death and the Powers which subsequently traveled to Chicago Opera Theater and the American Repertory Theater. He also returned to Opera Boston for Hindemith's rarely-heard opera Cardillac, and sang Nick Shadow in Emmanuel Music's production of The Rake's Progress.
Tenor ALex Richardson (Ernesto) makes his BMO debut in Don Pasquale. He has performed with Santa Fe Opera and the Atlanta and Chicago Symphonies. As a Tanglewood Institute Fellow, Mr. Richardson sang the role of Vogelgesang in Act III of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under the baton of Maestro James Levine and also performed solos in Stravinsky's Pulcinella with Maestro Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Included among his roles performed are Fenton in Falstaff, Camille in The Merry Widow, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Alfred in Die Fledermaus, and the title role in Albert Herring. He was a Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions regional prize-winner for the Northeast and Rocky Mountain regions.
Austin Pendleton, stage director of Don Pasquale, is an award winning actor, director and playwright. In 2007 he was the recipient of a Drama Desk Special Award as Renaissance Man of the American Theatre. He has been aptly described as the soul of American theater. He has been seen on Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank and Grand Hotel. He has appeared in the first New York productions of Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Fiddler on the Roof, Hail Scrawdyke (Derwent Award), The Last Sweet Days of Isaac (Obie Award),The Sorrows of Frederick, Doubles, The Imposter, The Loop and Sophistry, and in the title roles of Off-Broadway productions of Hamlet, Richard III, Uncle Vanya, Keats and Jeremy Rudge. He is a playwright (Orson's Shadow, Booth and Uncle Bob), director (Spoils of War, The Runner Stumbles and Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes), teacher (HB Studio), and member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Ensemble. His film credits include My Cousin Vinny, What's Up Doc?, Trial and Error, The Associate, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, The Proprietor, Guarding Tess, The Fifteen Minute Hamlet, Catch-22 and Amistad. TV includes Fired Up, Frasier and Tracey Takes On. He began his career, and has acted and directed many times, at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Conductor Susan Davenny Wyner has received national acclaim for her conducting. The Library of Congress featured her in its 2003 "Women Who Dare" Engagement Calendar, and the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour and WGBH Television have presented special documentary features on her life and work. Her conducting credits include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera, the Danish Odense Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra members in special benefit concerts. André Previn, Lynn Harrell, Claude Frank, Peter Serkin, and Emanuel Ax, have been among her guest soloists. She has also conducted concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, in Italy and the Czech Republic, at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals, and has recorded for CBS Radio and Bridge and Albany Records. Prior to her conducting, she had an international career as a lyric soprano, singing with the Metropolitan Opera and major conductors and orchestras.
Boston Midsummer Opera has set its sights on presenting entertaining, accessible visions of opera performed at a high level and at a reasonable price. BMO's talented singers perform their parts in savvy English translations, presenting selections from operas both well known and unfamiliar, to the delight of audience members young and old. In 2011, BMO presenTed Rossini's rarely performed-live comic masterpiece, The Italian Girl in Algiers, starring Sandra Piques Eddy in the role of Isabella. In 2010, BMO presented Trouble and Chocolate, a unique two-course evening featuring Leonard Bernstein's bittersweet classic Trouble in Tahitiand Lee Hoiby's delicious Bon Appétit!, starring Tony Award winner Judy Kaye as Julia Child. In 2009, Artistic Director Drew Minter's antic version of Così fan tutte placed Mozart's characters in a Connecticut country club where the two idealistic young couples warred with each other on and off the tennis court and fell prey to the cynical middle-aged staff members. In 2008, BMO staged Peter Brook's The Tragedy of Carmen, a gripping adaptation of Georges Bizet's famous opera, which pares down the cast to four singers and three actors while retaining Bizet's most celebrated music and using a special English translation by Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me). BMO's 2007 "Tales of Offenbach" featured a frothy revue of the operas of Jacques Offenbach, highlighting Les Brigands, Tales of Hoffman, Orfée aux Enfers, and La Périchole, and culminating in the famous "Can-Can."
Founded in 2006, Boston Midsummer Opera was conceived after founders Ernie Klein and Pauline Ho Bynum were present at the Met Opera House in spring of 1999 when all three New England Winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions were chosen as National Grand Winners. Ernie, whose grandfather was the Director and Finance Chairman for Prague Opera, and Pauline, the New England Regional Chairman for the Metropolitan National Council Auditions since 1984, who is always seeking opportunities for New England winners to sing in the Boston area, joined with Drew Minter the following summer. Drew Minter is a professor at Vassar College and is an internationally renowned counter tenor who has sung at opera houses worldwide. A life-long opera devotee, BMO Executive Director and Chairman Ernie Klein was the co-founder of the Opera Galas in conjunction with Pauline Ho Bynum and Monadnock Music. He serves on the New England Regional committee of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and was Chairman of WilmerHale's Investment Management Group. An avid opera fan since her years in New York, BMO Founding Director Pauline Ho Bynum has served as an Overseer for Boston Lyric Opera and New England Conservatory of Music.
Performances of Don Pasquale are tonight, July 25th and Friday, 27th at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 29th at 3:00 p.m. at the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University, 685 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Tickets, priced at$50.00 to $30.00 (plus a $5.00 handling fee per ticket order) for all performances, are available by calling 617-227-0442, online at www.bostonmidsummeropera.org, or by mailing a request to Boston Midsummer Opera, Box 513, 66 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114.
For more information, visit www.bostonmidsummeropera.org.
Photo credit: Christopher McKenzie