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Preview – Cincinnati Opera Season

I could save the marketing department of Cincinnati Opera a great deal of work. As we approach the Summer Festival Season we are enticed by the season’s theme, “Opera Goes to Spain.”

Like Dayton Opera’s “Masterpiece Season” and Dayton Philharmonic’s “The Romantics,” these monikers are well deserved. Wouldn’t it be easier on the staff to adopt the permanent name, “Great Opera in Great Performances.”

Season after season, we, the audience, are treated to these in such available and affordable packages. Cincinnati Opera provides us with a summer of operatic delights at Music Hall with a lot less hassle than attending a Reds or Bengals game. And, with Cincinnati Opera, we know the score in advance!

This summer, opera audiences will really go to Spain. A series of travelogues encompasses different centuries, different regions and very different casts of characters. Operatically, we time travel from the 16th century into the 20th.
Along the way we meet old friends - the amorous Count Almaviva and the wily Figaro, the bewitching Carmen and the bewitched Don Jose. We experience a love triangle unlike any other. Prince loves princess. King decides he must marry princess. Who can explain it except in 16th century terms?

Then, thanks to the innovative program of Evans Mirageas and his creative staff, we find new friends. The opera Ainadamar is Spanish to its very core. Composed by Osvaldo Golijov, it is an adaptation of a novel by the great Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. The opera involves the characters of Lorca, his patron and leading lady Margarita Xirgu and Mariana Pineda the subject of Lorca’s novel.

The season opens June 11 and 13 with the beloved classic, The Marriage of Figaro. Mirageas went way “down under” to find his Count Almaviva and Figaro. From New Zealand comes the handsome baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes and as Figaro, Jonathan Lemalu. Teddy has made women’s hearts throb in his many Cincinnati appearances. Rising Met star Lemalu will do the same as the clever barber. An eye for beauty as well as an ear for great voice have brought Sarah Tynan and Nicole Cabell to the Cincinnati stage as Susannah and the Countess.

The summer festival continues on June 25th and 27th with Verdi’s dramatic Don Carlos. Full of glorious music, this dark drama involves the unlikely love-triangle, the power of the church and the relentless press of tragedy. As Carlos, Frank Porretta makes his debut. Met and Dayton opera star Angela Brown returns after her triumph in Margaret Garner as Elisabetta. International star and the world’s best Wotan James Morris is King Philip.

The debut of Ainadamar in its Spanish glory will be presented July 9th and 11th. Any doubts about Cincinnati’s “new operas” can be erased by remembering last season’s magnificent “Florencia.” The long anticipated debut of superstar Dawn Upshaw as actress Xirgu will guarantee thrills.

The festival closes with the popular and beloved, Carmen. If ever an opera deserves its acclaim it is Bizet’s masterpiece. The Carmen will be Romanian star Roxandra Donuse. Acclaimed as a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, I wonder if she will be the first blonde in that captivating leading role.

William Burden and Dwayne Croft will sing Don Jose and Escamillo. You will have three opportunities to hear this great cast on July 22, 24 and 26. Remember, Cincinnati means Great Operas in Great Performances. An hour away, it is easily accessible and completely unforgettable. Call me for directions!

Bach Society of Dayton

I was present at the birth of a new star. The Bach Society of Dayton performed the elaborate Handel oratorio, Israel in Egypt at Kettering Adventist Church. The demanding work is based entirely on passages from the Torah book, Exodus.
Six soloists, chorus and orchestra followed the baton of John Neely and the organ accompan-iment of R. Alan Kimbrough through the Biblical chronicle. The matzo-laden Hebrews, still doused by Red Sea water began their 40 year sojourn in the desert to prepare themselves for receiving the law from God and entering the Promised Land.

Every artist was star quality. The music waxed and waned full of emotion and message. The texts, clearly sung by soloists and chorus, made the legendary beginnings of this great chapter of our Judeo-Christian heritage seem real and compelling.

The new star was not on the stage singing or playing. Dick Hattershire realized that the story must be understood from both historical and legendary points of view. He invited Rabbi Judy Chessin of Temple Beth Or to provide a pre-concert exegesis to give the saga life and comprehension.

Rabbi Chessin is a well-known speaker and teacher. Her sermons are not sermonic but laced with brilliance, éclat and humor while still containing a lesson. She approached the daunting explanation of the Exodus from Egypt with a combination of Biblical knowledge, musical appreciation and a series of Rabbinic tales, Midrash as they are called.

She explained that the rabbis of old can shed light on the implausible while not letting the mythic tale grow dusty and sterile. I am not certain how well Rabbi Judy can sing but her powerful voice and message was as much a part of the triumph of this great oratorio as each of the artists who did their parts so well.

Andra Bane to attend Interlochen Arts Camp

Andra Bane, 13, of Oakwood has been accepted and will attend Interlochen Arts Camp, the world’s premier summer arts program for aspiring artists. Bane, the daughter of Drs. Charles and Mary Bane, will study oboe at the camp.

A high honor roll student at Oakwood Junior High, Bane studies under Katherine Davis-DeGruchy of WSU. She played both oboe and English horn in the pit orchestra for this spring’s OHS production of Fiddler on the Roof and recently performed at the Dayton Philharmonic Show House. She has also been accepted for membership in the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra starting this fall.

Bane strives to be a well-rounded student with participation this past year in a competitive dance team and piano as well as playing on the Junior High field hockey team. The oboe, however, has become her passion, and she plans for future advanced studies in this instrument.

Interlochen Arts Camp attracts students, faculty and staff from all 50 U.S. states and more than 40 countries. Student-artists learn from world-class instructors each summer in the areas of dance, theatre, creative writing, visual arts, music and film.

Dayton Art Institute William Morris exhibit extended

By popular demand, The Dayton Art Institute has announced the special exhibition, William Morris: Myth, Object and the Animal, will be extended through August 2. The amazing works of blown glass have fascinated audiences over the several months since the exhibition opened in February.

Morris draws inspiration for his glass works from ancient civilizations throughout the world. Three monumental installations illustrate this interest, including Cache, with 75 tusks cradling skulls, bones, weapons and tools, and extending more than 36 feet, which transcends traditional limitations on the scale of glass to create an impressive environment. And Mazorca, or “ear of corn,” influenced by ancient American civilizations, testifies to how the artist incorporates his own personal responses to the products of cultures that inform his work.

“William Morris’ exhibition illustrates his ongoing interest in addressing man’s relationship to nature and his mastery of the medium of glass,” said Janice Driesbach, Director and CEO of The Dayton Art Institute. “As our visitors walk through the Morris exhibition, they will be able to see references to ancient civilizations represented in our collections, including those from South America, Asia, and Egypt, and will marvel at the artist’s ability to mimic diverse surfaces – stone, clay, leather, or metal – in glass.”

William Morris is among the pioneering artists who brought attention to studio glass art as a medium for contemporary expression. After serving as Dale Chihuly’s chief
“gaffer,” or master glassblower, he opened his own studio in 1980. Morris, who recently retired from working in glass, has work represented in museums across the United States and throughout the world.

The Dayton Art Institute’s showing of this is presented by the museum’s 90th Anniversary sponsors, The Virginia W. Kettering Foundation, The Berry Family Foundation, Premier Health Partners, The Dayton Power and Light Company Foundation and Miller-Valentine Group, with support from DoubleTree Hotel. The exhibition was organized by the William Morris Studio in Stanwood, Washington.

For more information about this exhibition and other programs at The Dayton Art Institute, please visit



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