Lawrence Opera Theater Announces Season 2017 Programs

This summer 's fully-staged opera production is W. A. Mozart's well-known Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), a story of love and dedication overcoming trials and separation. The music will be sung in German, but director Grant Preisser has created new English dialogue to fit in with his avant-garde concept of the opera. Preisser's career has started to take off, and he has spent the last two summers working at Music Academy of the West, where he was Assistant Director for two productions in 2017. He has also done scenic and costume design for Opera Orlando.

Preisser wanted to retain the "fantastical elements" of the opera, yet wanted to find a way to rationalize its "magical" moments. He also felt an obligation to respect the ritualistic aspects of the work. This combination of ideas led him to set the opera at the annual Burning Man event. This 10-day 'gathering' in the Nevada desert is influenced by ten principles, which include "radical inclusion," civic responsibility, and leaving no trace. Preisser has developed the opera's characters and their conflicts to fit into this landscape, and an unexpected casting twist plants many of the opera's issues and love/hate relationships firmly in the 21st century.

University of Kansas D.M.A. conducting candidate, Raffaele Cipriano, conducts the performances. He will lead a chamber ensemble of area musicians in a reduced scoring of the work prepared by Theatre Music Editions in England, a company which specializes in re-orchestrations of operas for smaller companies. The third member of the creative team is Tyler Gallegos-Lessin, who provides scenic and lighting design. Gallegos-Lessin created a chilling and mysterious insane asylum setting for 2016's Dido & Aeneas, and his design for this year promises to be equally evocative and creative.

LOT presents two other programs at Theatre Lawrence, who has been presenting partner since 2014. The partnership enters its fourth year with increased audiences and a first-time subscription package, offering a 10% discount on tickets and 50% savings on fees with the purchase of tickets to four separate programs. The evening of scenes and arias, titled Faces of Love, explores love in its many guises: from the comfort of sisterly love expressed in Mark Adamo's Little Women, to Abigaille's love of power in Verdi's Nabucco, from simple Nemorino's unrequited love in Donizetti's Elixir of Love, to the bittersweet resolution of a love triangle in Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. In addition to popular opera composers such as Handel, Rossini and Puccini, the diverse program features several contemporary composers, including Jake Heggie and John Adams, so there are sure to be new discoveries for the audience. Continuing with the Faces of Love theme, the popular musical theatre cabaret, A Fine Romance, provides some new insights into a variety of relationships. The audience will hear about a love triangle in Chess, yearn for the excitement of newlywed bliss in The Last Five Years, and ache in the frustrated yearnings of two Prince Charmings in Into the Woods. Familiar favorites from Guys & Dolls, West Side Story, and Funny Girl round out the varied program which also features lesser-known, but humorous contemporary cabaret songs.

The elegant Castle Tea Room is once again the setting for an intimate parlor concert. In celebration of Franz Schubert's 220th birthday, A Schubert Serenade presents some of his most loved works, from the angst of Gretchen am Spinnrade to the epic ride of Erlkönig. The second half of the program offers selections from Die Zauberflöte, to give the audience a taste of the full production. Ticket prices include an intermission wine and dessert reception, catered by Maceli's, which can be enjoyed while strolling through the building. This event sold out last year, so early reservations are recommended.

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