Florida Grand Opera Starts New Year with THE MAGIC FLUTE and LA SONNAMBULA, Opening 1/26 & 2/9

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Florida Grand Opera (FGO) continues its season of operatic must-sees in 2013 with two displays of extreme coloratura artistry, showcasing Jeanette Vecchione in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opening tonight, January 26, and Rachele Gilmore in Bellini's La sonnambula, opening February 9. Each production boasts a remarkable cast of returning fan-favorites and rising stars debuting with the company this season.

On January 26, 2013, Florida Grand Opera will welcome a new year with one of the most performed operas in the world - Die Zauberflöte. Mozart's last operatic masterpiece is an allegorical representation of the struggle between good and evil.

Through the visionary stage direction of Jeffrey Marc Buchman, this timeless tale comes alive in the imagination of a 1950s teenage boy who reads a book of The Magic Flute at bedtime and, as he dreams, is transported into the story, becoming its protagonist, prince Tamino. Two different worlds - the boy's reality and a wondrous fantasy land - meld through costumes and scenery as the prince is charged by the Queen of the Night with the rescue of her daughter, the lovely Pamina, from the hands of Sarastro. As his quest alongside the bird catcher Papageno nears its end, Tamino comes to know who the real villain is in this story.

The Queen of the Night, a role that requires a soprano to sing several F's above high C, is one of the most iconic characters in opera, will be undertaken by soprano Jeanette Vecchione, a virtuosa of the coloratura category. After debuting the role with the Vienna State Opera, her Queen of the Night at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in December 2011 not only commanded standing ovations each night, but turned her into a YouTube sensation, generating thousands of online views. The Juilliard School graduate has been described as "a rising star ... [with] easy high notes, which she used flawlessly," by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa makes her FGO and role debut as Pamina. This past November, she made her company and role debut as Cleopatra in Michigan Opera Theatre's Guilio Cesare, where she "simply dazzled ... [and] made the key dramatic arc from sexy schemer to a heroine of profound feeling," according to the Detroit Free Press. She was also recently featured in the Metropolitan Opera's HD broadcast of The Enchanted Island as Miranda, a role where she exhibited a "gleaming voice and beguiling grace," according to the New York Times. A graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Oropesa has performed with the Met numerous times and is scheduled to return there next season as Gilda in a new production of Rigoletto. Florida Grand Opera has selected her as this season's Walter and Ida Olson Artist, awarded to an outstanding American artist each year.

Our hero, Tamino, is sung by Andrew Bidlack, a former FGO Young Artist and recent San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow. He last joined FGO for the 2010-2011 production of Don Giovanni, where he brought a "smooth tenor voice" to the role of Don Octavio, according to South Florida Classical Review. Former FGO Young Artist Jonathan G. Michie, a South Florida favorite, returns home in the comedic part of Papageno. Praised for "vocal mastery and theatrical panache" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Michie joined FGO last season in to sing in Roméo et Juliette as Mercutio. In the role of Sarastro is Jordan Bisch, described by the Dallas Morning News as a "beautifully chocolaty yet well-focused bass." The former Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist made his debut this season with the Dallas Opera as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, which he also performed with FGO in 2010.

Buchman joins forces again with conductor Andrew Bisantz, following a smash-hit with FGO's most recent Rigoletto. Bisantz "drew vigorous sounds from the orchestra, with brisk tempos" while Buchman's stage direction was credited with "[mastering] an art beyond the powers of many directors" in a review by South Florida Classical Review. This production of Die Zauberflöte was built by New York City Opera in 1988. Miami performances of Die Zauberflöte are sponsored, in part, by Funding Arts Network, and Fort Lauderdale performances are sponsored, in part, by Funding Arts Broward.

SCHEDULE

**Sung in German with English and Spanish projected translations**

MIAMI - Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
/ Ziff Ballet Opera House
January 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. - Opening Night;
February 1, 5, & 16, 2013, at 8 p.m.;
February 10, 2013, matinee at 2 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE - Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
February 21, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.;
February 23, 2013, at 8 p.m.

CAST

Tamino - Andrew Bidlack
Pamina - Lisette Oropesa *
Papageno - Jonathan G. Michie ◊
Queen of the Night - Jeanette Vecchione *
Sarastro - Jordan Bisch
Lady #1 - Lacy Sauter ♦
Lady #2 - Cynthia Cook ♦ *
Lady #3 - Carla Jablonski ♦ *
Monostatos - Matthew Maness ♦ *
Papagena - Hye Jung Lee ♦ *
Priest #1 - Matthew Newlin ♦ *
Priest #2 - Graham Fandrei
The Speaker - Adam Lau ♦
Armored Man #1 - Matthew Newlin ♦ *
Armored Man #2 - Ryan Milstead ♦
Conductor - Andrew Bisantz
Director - Jeffrey Marc Buchman ◊
Set & Costume Designer - Thierry Bosquet *
Lighting Designer - Donald Edmund Thomas
Choreographer - Rosa Mercedes

* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist

Florida Grand Opera Starts New Year with THE MAGIC FLUTE and LA SONNAMBULA, Opening 1/26 & 2/9The season continues with the return of Bellini's La sonnambula, an FGO production with sets and costumes by Carlo Maria Diappi. Entitled "The Sleepwalker," this artful piece speaks of Amina, a simple village girl believed to be unfaithful to her fiancé, Elvino, due to her suspicious nighttime wanderings. It is among the finest of the bel canto (meaning "beautiful singing") style, which has attracted leading coloratura sopranos since its 1831 debut.

Debuting the role of Amina, FGO features Rachele Gilmore, a young talent The Boston Herald calls "the whole package." This season's Morgan P. and Evelyn R. Gilbert Artist, awarded to a former FGO Young Artist returning in a primary role, Gilmore is known for her dynamic stage presence, silvery timbre, and effortless high register. In January 2012, she had her debut with Milan's famed Teatro alla Scala in Les contes d'Hoffmann, where her Olympia was described as having "roulades, trills, ascending and descending scales, glissandi available without trouble. The high notes are bright lightning," according to OperaClick. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the same role in 2009, astonishing the audience by singing A-flats above high C, resulting in a "show-stopping" performance, according The Classical Source.

The part of her fiancé is sung by Michele Angelini, a tenor voice the Dallas Morning News described as having "silken loveliness as well as graceful agility." He recently performed the roles of Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri in Bilbao and returned to the Metropolitan Opera for Armida. Last seen at FGO in 2011 as Leporello in Don Giovanni, bass-baritone Tom Corbeil returns home as the mysterious Count Rodolfo. The former FGO Young Artist and Barihunks regular dedicated the 2011-2012 season to touring with the first national tour of The Addams Family Musical in the role of Lurch, continuing to showcase a "low, rumbling, deeply rich, operatic bass," according to The Theater Mirror.

Celebrated soprano Renata Scotto, who made a specialty of singing the title role, directs La sonnambula for FGO once again. Scotto, famous for her portrayals of Verdi, Puccini, and bel canto heroines at major opera houses worldwide, made her directorial debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1986 with Madama Butterfly and first directed for FGO in 2001's Tosca. The orchestra will be under the direction of Maestro Ramon Tebar. A two-time winner of FGO's Henry C. Clark Award and recently appointed Artistic Director of the Palm Beach Symphony, Tebar has been said to "... achieve perfect pitch and harmony from all parts of the orchestra and, with involved and passionate action, direct the tempo with perfection to motivate the entire orchestra, making poetry ...," according to a review by the Dominican newspaper Hoy Digital following a concert that the critic called "a magical night and one of the greatest musical moments in the country's history." [translated from Spanish]

SCHEDULE

**Sung in Italian with English and Spanish projected translations**

MIAMI - Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County
/ Ziff Ballet Opera House
February 9, 2013, at 7 p.m. - Opening Night;
February 12 & 15, 2013, at 8 p.m.;
February 17, 2013, matinee at 2 p.m.

CAST

Amina - Rachele Gilmore ◊
Elvino - Michele Angelini *
Rodolfo - Tom Corbeil
Lisa - Hye Jung Lee ♦
Teresa - Cynthia Cook ♦
Alessio - Adam Lau ♦
Notary - Matthew Newlin ♦
Conductor - Ramon Tebar
Director - Renata Scotto
Set & Costume Designer - Carlo Maria Diappi
Light Designer - Donald Edmund Thomas

* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist

About Florida Grand Opera

Florida Grand Opera (FGO), the oldest performing arts organizations in Florida, celebrates its 72nd year of continuously producing grand opera during the 2012-2013 season, which features: Puccini's La bohème, Nov. 17 through Dec. 8; Mozart's The Magic Flute, Jan. 29 through Feb. 23; Bellini's La sonnambula, Feb. 9 through Feb. 17; and Verdi's La traviata, Apr. 20 through May 5. Subscriptions for all four operas of the season start at $36 and single tickets start as low as $11. Tickets may be purchased by phone at (800) 741-1010 or online at www.FGO.org.

Founded in 1941 as Greater Miami Opera and later merging with The Opera Guild Inc. in 1994, FGO presents a mixture of standard repertoire and contemporary works as well as commissions new productions - all featuring projected translations in English and Spanish. FGO, recognized for funding by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding is also provided, in part, by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners and the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council. Program support is provided by the City of Miami Beach, Cultural Affairs Program, Cultural Arts Council. Florida Grand Opera is a Resident Company of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County and a member company of OPERA America. American Airlines is the Official Airline, Intercontinental Miami is the Official Hotel and Steinway & Sons is the Official Piano of Florida Grand Opera.

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