Opera Southwest Unearths Forgotten Bottesini Opera ALI BABA This Fall
Continuing its tradition of presenting largely forgotten and exotic operas of the 18th- and 19th-centuries, Opera Southwest will open its 47th Season with the chance to hear and see Giovanni Bottesini's Alì Babà, Sunday afternoon, October 20, 2019 at 2 pm, Friday evening, October 25, 2019 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday afternoon, October 27, 2019 at 2 pm, all at Albuquerque's Journal Theatre (National Hispanic Cultural Center 1701 4th Street SW Albuquerque NM 87102).
This work is based on the story of "Alì Babà and the Forty Thieves" from "One Thousand and One Nights," and was originally premiered in 1871 at the Lyceum Theatre in London. Conductor Anthony Barrese has endeavored to maintain that authenticity in his work on the score and libretto, which he reconstructed from the composer's original manuscript, and in the selection of the cast and creative team producing the opera. Full production and casting information on page 2.
Bottesini is known by modern audiences as a virtuoso of the double bass who toured Europe and America raising the profile of the bass as a solo instrument, partly by performing concertos he composed. But he was also a conductor (he conducted the premiere of Aida in Egypt), and a composer of several operas, most of which have been sadly forgotten.
Maestro Barrese was drawn to the Alì Babà opera for its depiction of the people of Iran and Turkey not as comic foils to Europeans, but as full-blown characters, living in their own world. He has endeavored to maintain that authenticity in his work on the score and libretto, which he reconstructed from the composer's original manuscript, and in the selection of the cast and creative team producing the opera.
"Opera should be a living and breathing art form," says Maestro Barrese about the importance of reviving lost operas. "Most people today think opera is conservative, but throughout the history of music, opera was one of the most experimental musical forms." Maestro Barrese went on to explain that in addition to performing tried and true audience favorites, both new operas and historical revivals have value in keeping opera relevant in the 21st century.
On Saturday morning, October 5, 2019 at 10:30 am at the Albuquerque Museum, Maestro Anthony Barrese and members of the production team and cast will discuss Alì Babà and its history as part of the company's "Pre-Opera Lectures" series.
Tickets from $19 to $99 are available for purchase by phone at both 505-724-4771 and 505-243-0591, and online at https://www.operasouthwest.org/operas/ali-baba.
Full production and casting information below:
Alì Babà Bass-Baritone Ashraf Sewailam Delia Soprano Monica Yunus Nadir Tenor Christopher Bozeka Aboul Hassan Bass Kevin Thompson Orsocane Bass-Baritone Darren Stokes Morgiana Mezzo Soprano Lauren Semerdijan
Conductor Anthony Barrese Director Foad Faridzadeh Scenic Design Richard Hogle Lighting Design Daniel Chapman Chorus Master Aaron Howe
Founded in 1972 as Albuquerque Opera Theatre by by Dr. Edward T. Peter and Maestro Kurt Frederick, Opera Southwest (OSW) produces quality, professional, enjoyable, and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages, to contribute to an educated, cultured, and economically diverse community of New Mexico. To date OSW has produced over 120 major operas for hundreds of thousands of patrons, including 23 world premieres, such as an opera based on Rudolfo Anaya's blockbuster novel Bless Me, Ultima (February 2018).
During the 2019-20 season, Opera Southwest will also present Daniel Catán's Il Postino (February 2, 7, & 9, 2020) conducted by Maestro Guillermo Figueroa, featuring "Rising Star" (Opera News) soprano Cecilia Violetta López. The opera-originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera in 2010 and based on the novel Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skármeta-tells the story of Pablo Neruda's unlikely friendship with his postman on a tiny Italian island, set against Catán's lush, Puccini-esque score. OSW will conclude its 47th season with Verdi's classic tragedy, La traviata (March 22, 25, 27, & 29, 2020), with conductor Domenico Boyagian and director Octavio Cardenas.
OSW is led by spirited young American conductor Anthony Barrese, who assumed the position of Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 2008. He began an initiative at OSW to revive forgotten operatic works in 2015, beginning with Franco Faccio's nineteenth century opera Amleto, based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, which had not been heard since a revival at La Scala in 1871. Mr.Barrese spent a decade painstakingly researching and editing a critical edition of the 1865 opera, before its 2015 renaissance received international attention, including a nomination at the International Opera Awards 2015 in the Rediscovered Work category. OSW's new production has since been remounted by Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Delaware.
As part of the company's efforts to build future audiences for opera and the arts in general, Opera Southwest works with teaching artists, local schools and educators, and organizations catering to underserved groups to develop free or very low-cost presentations. Opera Southwest has brought these outreach programs and live theatrical performances to more than 180,000 children, helping to enhance academic performance and quality of life through music education.