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New York City Opera to Bring Music to All 5 Boroughs

New York City Opera will present a series of concerts, showcases, discussions, screenings, and master classes in 2008-09, designed to bring the company's unique brand of music-making and cultural conversation to all five boroughs of New York City while renovations take place at its home, the New York State Theater.

Highlights of 2008-09 will include Looking Forward, a dynamic survey of the musical language that will be heard in 2009-10, City Opera's first season under General Manager-Designate Gerard Mortier. Other highlights will include a celebration of American composer Samuel Barber in anticipation of the centennial of his birth, Opera Matters, a series of events demonstrating the importance of opera in contemporary culture, and the 10th anniversary edition of VOX, City Opera's acclaimed annual showcase for new American operas.

"We are bringing City Opera out to New York in 2008-09," said City Opera Board Chairman Susan L. Baker, "Our goal is to provide audiences with a distinctive series of concerts and events that look forward to the future of New York City Opera while our home in the New York State Theater is undergoing an historic renovation." Through an unprecedented joint initiative by City Opera and the theater's other resident company, New York City Ballet, the New York State Theater's patron amenities will be modernized and upgraded in 2008-09. Improvements will include construction of an enlarged, movable orchestra pit, which will significantly enhance the acoustical environment.

As the centerpiece of the Samuel Barber celebration, City Opera is proud to present a concert staging of his Antony and Cleopatra on January 15 and 16, 2009 at 8PM in Carnegie Hall (57th Street & 7th Avenue). City Opera Soprano Lauren Flanigan sings the role of Cleopatra opposite baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, in his New York City Opera debut, as Antony. The cast also includes City Opera favorites Simon O'Neill as Caesar, David Pittsinger as Enobarbus, Sandra Piques Eddy as Charmian and Laura Vlasak Nolen as Iras. City Opera Music Director George Manahan will conduct. City Opera's celebration of Samuel Barber will also feature a symposium on Antony and Cleopatra on Saturday, January 10 co-presented by and taking place at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University (2960 Broadway at 116th Street).

In anticipation of City Opera's 2009-10 season, Maestro Manahan has developed a concert program called Looking Forward, which the New York City Opera Orchestra and City Opera soloists will perform in all five boroughs. The concerts will survey the music of the 20th century, focusing on many of the composers to be featured in Gerard Mortier's inaugural season. Maestro Manahan offered, "In Looking Forward we will be celebrating the music of some of the great composers of the 20th century: Benjamin Britten, Claude Debussy, Lukas Foss, Olivier Messiaen, Steve Reich, Igor Stravinsky, and Edgard Varèse, among others. It will be a terrific opportunity for audiences to re-discover the beauty and richness of the unique styles and harmonies of this important era in music history in advance of our 20th century-focused 2009-10 season."

Looking Forward concerts will be held at:

·         STATEN ISLAND: Saturday, October 4, 2008 at 8:00pm
St. George Theatre, 35 Hyatt Street, Staten Island

·         BROOKLYN: Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 4:00pm
Whitman Theater at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Brooklyn College (CUNY), 2900 Campus Road, Brooklyn

·         BRONX: Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 5:00pm
Lehman Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Lehman College (CUNY), 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West, Bronx

·         QUEENS: Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 8:00pm
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center on the campus of LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) 31-10 Thompson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens

·         MANHATTAN: Saturday, April 11, 2009 at 8:00pm
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center 65th Street and Broadway, Manhattan


Opera Matters, another initiative to bring opera into the lives of New Yorkers, is a series of lively talks and panel discussions, enhanced by live music, film, and other media. Curated by City Opera Dramaturg Cori Ellison, this series aims to place opera squarely at the center of today's culture. Opera Matters programs will include:

·       Cinematic Opera/Operatic Cinema - A co-presentation with The Film Society of Lincoln Center, this four-part series examines the mutual influences and close relationship between these two vital art forms. The series, beginning on Saturday, November 1, takes place at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center, and comprises three film screenings followed by lectures, culminating in a panel discussion featuring world-famous film directors who have also directed operas.

·       The Sounds of Literature - A co-presentation with the "Live from the NYPL" series at the New York Public Library (42nd St & Fifth Ave), this multi-part series of programs, beginning in November, presents creative vistas on the remarkable intersection of words and music.

·       Opera, Pop Culture & Mass Media - In this co-presentation with The Paley Center for Media on Thursday, April 23, top media critics, opera experts, and advertising moguls screen clips and discuss opera's pervasive and enduring presence and meaning in popular media including TV shows, cartoons, commercials, the Internet, video games, music videos, and satellite radio.

In honor of Black History Month, City Opera co-presents Black History at NYCO with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Beginning Wednesday, January 28, we celebrate the important African-American works and artists who have graced City Opera's stage in three commemorative programs featuring discussion, live performance, special guests, and historic slides and audio and video clips.

On the heels of City Opera's most successful VOX Showcase of American Composers, which was attended by more than 2,000 people this year, the company is thrilled to announce the 10th-Anniversary Showcase scheduled for May 2009, at which point City Opera will have presented excerpts from 100 total new American operas as part of VOX. In addition to excerpts from new American operas featuring City Opera casts and orchestra, VOX will include panel discussions and a master class for singers in contemporary music. VOX 2009 submissions will be received June 1 through September 1, 2008. Details on selected works, composers and casting will be announced in 2009.




City Opera Music Director, George Manahan made his City Opera debut conducting Die tote Stadt in 1991. In his tenure at City Opera, he has conducted 53 different operas including two world premieres, four US stage premieres and forty-one new productions including but not limited to: Margaret Garner, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci, Cendrillon, Madama Butterfly, Falstaff, Candide, L'elisir d'amore, La donna del lago, Capriccio, Il viaggio a Reims, The Mines of Sulphur, Lysistrata, Il trittico, Little Women, Flavio, The Flying Dutchman, Xerxes, Intermezzo, The Cunning Little Vixen, Emmeline, Macbeth, La finta giardiniera, Mourning Becomes Electra, Ermione, Lizzie Borden, La bohème ("Live from Lincoln Center" telecasts). Elsewhere, he has conducted Rigoletto, Falstaff, and L'Italiana in Algeri at Glimmerglass Opera; premieres at Santa Fe Opera including Modern Painters and A Night at the Chinese Opera; productions at Seattle Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Australia, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; concerts with San Francisco Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Verona Filarmonica.  Recordings include Desire Under the Elms with London Symphony Orchesta (Grammy nomination).

Soprano Lauren Flanigan most recently sang the title role in Samuel Barber's Vanessa at City Opera. Originally from San Francisco, California, she made her City Opera debut as Musetta in La bohème in 1991. Since then, she has been a regular City Opera favorite singing lead roles in: Mourning Becomes Electra, Macbeth, Lilith, Central Park, The Mother of Us All, Intermezzo, Lizzie Borden, The Seven Deadly Sins, The Turn of the Screw, Mathis der Maler, Esther (world premiere), Roberto Devereux, and Die tote Stadt. Other performances at La Scala, Teatro San Carlo, Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, San Francisco Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, American Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Brucknerhaus Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Santa Fe Opera, and English National Opera; live recording of Richard Strauss' Die Liebe der Danae (Telarc), Howard Hanson's Merrymount, Symphony #6 by Philip Glass; DVD Opera Diva Death to Smoochy, Abigaille Nabucco.  Winner of City Opera's Diva Award and Betty Allen prize.

New Zealand baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes makes his City Opera debut as Antony. Most recently, he sang the role of Ned Keene in Peter Grimes at the Metropolitan Opera in his debut. Other appearances in San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Washington, Munich, Hamburg, the Chatelet, Paris, Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera to his credit . Future engagements include Count Almaviva in Cincinnati, Don Giovanni for Opera Australia, Henze's L'Upupa for Hamburg Opera, Lescaut in Leipzig, Billy Budd in both Santa Fe and Sydney.

New Zealand Tenor Simon O'Neill made his City Opera debut in 2003 as First Armed Man in Die Zauberflöte. Most recently, he sang the role of Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Metropolitan Opera and at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Other credits include: title role of Parsifal in Rome at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. Future seasons see him in the title role of Lohengrin at Houston Grand Opera and Covent Garden, Siegmund in Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Coruna Festival and Hamburg State Opera, Parsifal at Barcelona's Teatro Liceu and in his Opera Australia debut as Sergei in Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Bass-baritone David Pittsinger made his City Opera debut in title role of Don Giovanni in 2001. A native of Hartford, Connecticut, he returned to City Opera to sing the title role in Le nozze di Figaro and Zoroastro in Orlando. Other career highlights include Carlo V in Don Carlo, and Colline in La bohème at Metropolitan Opera; Count Almaviva at Los Angeles Opera; Cadmus/Somnus in Semele in Paris; title role in Don Quichotte at Vienna's Theater an der Wien; Olin Blitch in Susannah at Opera Company of Philadelphia; Mephistopheles in Faust for Geneva, L'Opéra de Montréal, Italy's Macerata Festival, Vancouver, Calgary; Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress for Brussels, Lausanne, Hamburg, Paris, Bordeaux; Tiresias in Oedipus Rex at Teatro San Carlo, Count Rodolfo in La Sonnambula for Palermo.

Sandra Piques Eddy, mezzo-soprano, originally hails from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She made her City Opera debut as Flora in La traviata in 2002. Most recent City Opera engagements have included Dorabella in Così fan tutte. Ramiro in La finta giardiniera, Pitti-Sing in The Mikado. Other career highlights include Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Chicago Opera Theater; Meg in Little Women at Glimmerglass, Fort Worth and Kentucky; Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri at Arizona; Page in Salome and Ramiro at Florida Grand Opera; Mallika in Lakmé at Spoleto Festival; Mercedes in Carmen, Flowermaiden in Parsifal, Zulma in L'italiana in Algeri, Rosette in Manon, Dragonfly in L'Enfant et les sortilèges at the Metropolitan Opera; Shoshana Foundation Richard F. Gold Career Grant recipient; Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national semi-finalist.

Mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen made her City Opera debut as Sélysette in Ariane et Barbe-bleue in 2005. Originally from Dallas, Texas, she returned to City Opera as Malcolm in La donna del lago. Other career highlights include Isaura in Tancredi and Enrichetta in I Puritani with the Caramoor Festival; Eustazio in Handel's Rinaldo with the Berkshire Opera; title role in Giulio Cesare with Opera Theater of Connecticut; Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte with the Cleveland Opera and Dallas Opera; Fanny in Strauss's Intermezzo at Santa Fe Opera; Handel's Messiah with the Danbury Chamber Orchestra; Richard Tucker Foundation Gala with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Honneggar's King David with the Lubbock Symphony; New England Regional Winner and National Semi-Finalist in the 2005 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions; recipient of an Encouragement Award from the 2005 George London Foundation and the 2006 Sullivan Foundation Competitions.


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