Pacific Opera Project to Present Salieri & Mozart Double Bill
A competition between Mozart and Salieri, it really happened!
Fresh off their sold out run of The Merry "Widder", POP looks to shake things up again by recreating a competition that took place between the now infamous rivals W.A. Mozart and Antonio Salieri when they present a double bill of The Impresario and Prima la musica, e poi le parole.
Mozart and Salieri square off in this competition of delightful one-act "meta" operas. While the rivalry between these two composers may be a bit overblown thanks to the film Amadeus, this competition actually happened. Emperor Joseph II of Austria sponsored a contest between the two composers on February 7, 1786. In the orangery at the Schönbrunn Palace, the Emperor and his guests sat at a long table. Mozart's German singspiel Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario) was staged first on one end, then the guests turned in their seats to watch Salieri's Italian buffo opera Prima la musica, e poi le parole (First the Music, Then the Words) on the other end. POP will recreate this event at the beautiful South Pasadena Library and patrons will watch The Impresario on one end, then turn their chairs around and watch Prima la musica on the other. The Mozart will be updated to present day and will be sung in a new English translation. The Salieri will be set traditionally and sung in Italian, with projected English titles.
The plot of The Impresario, which is the more oft performed of the two works, revolves around the struggles of a small opera company trying to make ends meet, while appeasing the demands of the public, their finicky patrons, and those demanding divas who seem to live to make life difficult. With a new English book and libretto by artistic director Josh Shaw, the action takes place at an opera company that may seem very familiar to POP audiences where the over-worked, underpaid impresario and his well-meaning and ever-positive assistant balance the demands of their dueling divas Everly Squills and Meryl Shrills all the while pacifying their biggest benefactor Freddy Freecoin. "POP" shots will be taken at everyone from POP staff and patrons to the most famous and infamous operatic personalities of our time.
Prima la musica, e poi le parole has a cast of four characters, each depicting a player in the creation of an opera: the Maestro, the Poet, Eleonora, a prima donna, representing opera seria, and Tonina, an opera buffa singer. The plot lampoons everyone and everything in opera production. The Poet is obliged to write his verses to music already composed by the Maestro, who cares nothing about expressing the words in the music. Seria and buffa elements (normally kept strictly apart) collide in a duet of two simultaneous arias, which eventually becomes a quartet shared by all four singers.
Baritones Andy Papas (Boston Lyric Opera, Union Avenue Opera, Opera New Jersey, Lyric Opera Cleveland, St. Petersburg Opera) and Alex Boyd (Sarasota Opera, Chelsea Opera, Long Island Opera) make their POP debuts pulling double duty by performing roles in both The Impresario and Prima la musica, e poi le parole. In the Salieri, they are joined by the star of last season's Ariadne auf Naxos, Tracy Cox (LA Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Opera San Luis Obispo), and newcomer Justine Aronson (The Industry, wild Up). Sopranos Brooke deRosa (Zerbinetta last season at POP, Long Beach Opera, Center Stage Opera) and Karen Hogle Brown (Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera, Long Beach Opera) team up with tenor, Christopher Anderson-West (currently in The Merry Widow) to round out the cast of The Impresario.
This unique double bill will feature a new arrangement for string quartet and harpsichord by music director Stephen Karr and a new libretto for The Impresario by artistic director Josh Shaw. Maggie Green will design costumes.
When it is Salieri vs. Mozart, English vs. Italian, Contemporary vs. Traditional who wins? The audience will be the judge. With only 150 seats per performance, an all-star cast, and the chance to hear these seldom performed gems by Mozart and Salieri, this is already the hottest ticket of the season and is sure to sell out. Seating is available for $20-$40. There is also the option to be "Emperor for a Day". Patrons who would like to support this production in a princely way can purchase the Emperor's throne for $500. ($420 of which is a tax-deductible donation.) The Emperor and a guest will be seated in thrones near the stage and will have ceremonial duties for the evening while enjoying the very best in service and refreshments. A royal cape, crown, and scepter are also part of the deal!
Tickets for this production cannot be sold at the door and must be purchased ahead of time. Bottomless wine tickets are also available on-line for a mere $10.
Performances are April 16, 17, 22, and 23 at 7pm and April 24 at 3pm in the Community Room of the South Pasadena Library located at 1115 El Centro South Pasadena, CA 91030.