From “Murder in the Pit” to “Death by Opera,” to “Staged for Murder,” the birth of an operatic mystery trilogy. An exclusive interview with Erica Miner.

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

A native of Detroit, Erica Miner studied violin with Boston Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Joseph Silverstein at Boston University where she graduated cum laude; the New England Conservatory of Music; and the Tanglewood Music Center, summer home of the Boston Symphony, where she performed with such celebrated conductors as Leonard Bernstein and Erich Leinsdorf. 

The former Metropolitan Opera violinist is now an award-winning author, screenwriter, journalist and lecturer, who actively contributes to major arts websites and magazines. As an opera expert, she is a regular presenter for the Seattle Symphony, Osher Lifelong Living Institute at University of Washington and University of California San Diego, Creative Retirement Institute at Edmonds College (Seattle area) and Wagner Societies on both coasts.

OperaMyLove Magazine: Erica, how did you, a respected professional musician, become a writer and a journalist?

Erica Miner: I’ve always written, since I was in grade school and placed in an afterschool program for Creative Writing. I just loved the whole process—of creating characters and plots and weaving them together to tell stories. I discovered that I loved telling stories. So when I had the car accident that ended my musical career, the logical next step to find a creative outlet was to go back to my writing. I studied screenwriting in Los Angeles with a noted screenwriting coach, who encouraged me in my idea for a novel, which was about an opera musician—more than semi-autobiographical. Some opera websites found my writing online and invited me to write reviews and interviews of operas and singers. That’s how my reinvention as a writer began.

OperaMyLove Magazine: You performed for 21 years with the Metropolitan Opera Company. What is the most pleasant memory you have of that experience?

Erica Miner: There were so many! I think what I remember most fondly is my very first rehearsal in the pit, of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, after I had auditioned for Raymond Gniewek, the Met’s extraordinary concertmaster. I was of course extremely excited but a bit nervous when I was seated in the first violin section. But my excitement turned to apprehension when I saw James Levine on the podium; imagine, my first time out and playing for Levine—a trial by fire! Then I looked up onstage and there were Jon Vickers and Martina Arroyo. And it was no longer a trial by fire but instead like suddenly arriving in Paradise.

OperaMyLove Magazine: In your long career as a musician, who was the most impressive musician or singer you met? What was it in their personality or talents that struck you the most?

Erica Miner: That is a very difficult question, as I’ve met countless luminaries in the music world. I think it would have to be Ray Gniewek, our fearless leader of the first violin section, and of course the entire Met Orchestra, since I worked more closely with him than anyone in my years there. Ray was the most dependable, fantastic leader you can imagine. He knew those operas inside out and backward, never made musical missteps, led the orchestra with his entire being. Not only was he incomparable as a leader, but he played the violin solos impeccably and with such great beauty. I’ve never heard anyone play them better. He also frequently showed his appreciation of what his violin section was doing: whenever we did something he thought was great, he always let us know of his approval. Of course, the opposite was also true! But my respect and admiration for his talent and abilities is boundless. I will always be grateful to him for all that he taught us and for his generosity of spirit.

OperaMyLove Magazine: Your debut novel, “Travels with my Lovers,” won the Fiction Prize in the Direct from the Author Book Awards, is inspired by your own travel adventures. Could you tell us more about the book?

Erica Miner: The idea for “Travels with my Lovers” came to me when I was working on my screenplays. My screenwriting coach thought it was a great idea to branch out into novel writing. I based the novel on the journals that I kept while I was at the Met. I wrote it in first person, but I didn’t want it to read like a memoir, just fiction, so I embroidered it somewhat. I spent a number of my summers when the Met was on hiatus traveling to Italy: both to experience its exquisite beauty and to explore the roots of Opera. My experiences there were so life-changing that I absolutely had to write about them. The protagonist is an opera musician who goes to Europe—Italy and France—and travels the high seas on a cruise. She finds both love and heartbreak in these places, but describes the beauty, history and operatic aspects of each locale. Overall I would define the book as a travelogue and love story combined.

OperaMyLove Magazine: You followed in 2009 with “FourEver Friends,” a novel about four teenage girls growing up in Detroit in the ‘60s. Could you explain what made you choose this topic and tell our readers more about it?

Erica Miner: I wrote “FourEver Friends” as a love letter to the three women who were my closest companions in high school and are still my most beloved friends. We went to a high school for gifted students that offered college-level specialties in pretty much any field you could name. The music department was exceptional, and the orchestra was legendary: many of the kids went straight from graduation to major symphony orchestras. Our conductor was a dynamic Russian man who saw to it that we would be prepared for a life as professional musicians by teaching all of the most important repertoire: from Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Schumann to Debussy, Hindemith, Bartók, Stravinsky and more. It was an extraordinary background that served me well later in life. We four girls performed together in the orchestra but actually became truly close in an all-female vocal and instrumental ensemble that performed all over the city of Detroit. We were absolutely inseparable, and shared all of our joys, heartbreak, and hormonal angst while we learned intensively about classical music. Within the book, I write about all of the pieces we sang and played. Afterward, I counted them up: there are no less than sixty-nine classical pieces mentioned, as well as Beatle songs. It was definitely a labor of love.

OperaMyLove Magazine: As a musician, though, I guess you could not stay away from the music world and so was born your third book, “Murder in the Pit,” the first in a series of ‘Operatic Mysteries.’ I am sure our readers would like to find out more about this book and the series itself…

Erica Miner: Yes, music is everything for me. “Murder in the Pit” was born of my experiences at the Met. I was very lucky to be at the Met at a time when some of the greatest singers and conductors were performing there. I got to work with them, rehearse with them and watch how “divas” and “divos” handled the pressure of being onstage at the world’s most prestigious opera house. But it’s a very pressured, high-stakes atmosphere and sometimes tempers flare and conflicts are inevitable. In “Murder in the Pit” I played up both the positives and negatives of working in that unique environment; of the good, bad, ugly, and everything in between. “Die Liebe Brennt”, as one of my colleagues used to say ironically. No love lost, as they say.

OperaMyLove Magazine: The main character in “Murder in the Pit” and in the following book of the series,”Death by Opera”, is a violinist at the Metropolitan Opera. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Is this character an alter ego of yours? Is this second book’s story also developing in New York? What else should we know about the book?

Erica Miner: The protagonist, Julia, who embodies the very young violinist I was when I first started out there, because of her innate curiosity and sense of justice, becomes embroiled in a murder investigation when her mentor is assassinated and her closest colleague in the orchestra is the accused. The characters basically took over from there. I didn’t originally intend it as a series, but enough of my readers asked about a sequel, and one of them very insistently suggested I set the second book at Santa Fe Opera, for a number of reasons. The company is legendary. Its setting in the desert, between two mysterious mountain ranges (of which is actually called “Blood of Christ”) is uniquely evocative. People flock to the performances each summer from the world over (this was of course before the pandemic). Some of the world’s most prominent singers perform there. Even the weather, which can turn threatening in an instant, contributes to the eerie atmosphere. And did I mention Santa Fe has more ghosts than any other city in the US? I thought it was a great idea. I had to do a lot of research, including a major trip to steep myself in the company’s summer rehearsals and performances, and to learn my way around the multifaceted campus. But luckily, I had a close friend who provided me an entrée to all the relevant people and places. Julia goes as a concertmaster for the summer and finds just as much murder and mayhem as at the Met. So much fun!

OperaMyLove Magazine: “Staged for Murder,” the third book in this ‘operatic mystery series’ is due to be released on October 15, 2020. Tell us more about it, please.

Erica Miner: While I was writing “Death by Opera”, a friend from San Francisco Opera suggested I might make the series a trilogy by setting the next sequel in the City by the Bay. I have deep connections there, both to the city and the opera company, so that seemed like a no brainer. Again, I was lucky enough to know people who connected me to company members who gave me tours of the theatre, of the galleries, of the archives, and more. And again, a lot of research was required. But honestly, this opera company is the second most prestigious in the country for good reasons. And I think it has the most fascinating history of any in the US. Writing this novel afforded me the opportunity to paint a rich atmosphere with colorful characters, and for the potential for my wicked imagination to go wild. I’m very excited about the release, and I’m happy to say that interest is keen from readers.

OperaMyLove Magazine: You are also a screenwriter. Do you write just the screenplays of your books or other original stories? Were any of these screenplays turned into TV films or movies?

Erica Miner: I have written original screenplays in multiple genres as well as scripts based on my own books—“Travels with my Lovers”, “FourEver Friends” and “Murder in the Pit”—and even on books I have ghostwritten for other people. In fact, “Murder in the Pit” started out as a screenplay. My scripts have won awards and placed in numerous competitions, but I haven’t had anything produced as yet. Hollywood is a tough nut to crack, and it’s even more difficult to connect with directors and producers overseas who would best understand my music-centered stories. There’s a saying: “In Hollywood, there are no rules; and they’re strictly enforced.” Truer words were never said.

OperaMyLove Magazine: You have been contributing a “Power of Journaling” article series for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. What topics do you cover in the articles?

Erica Miner: That was a wonderful opportunity and experience. I was able to express what a joy it is to journal and what a powerful tool it can be, especially for women. Most of my topics coincided with my lectures on the subject: The Power of Journaling; Journaling Resistance; Famous Women who Kept Journals; There’s a Book in Everyone—how to use your journals to create a book, fiction or non-fiction. Also, how to equip yourself for journaling, creating a journaling ritual, and more.

OperaMyLove Magazine: You have won top ratings as a special lecturer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. What topics do you cover on those lectures

Erica Miner gives a lecture to the San Francisco chapter of the Wagner Society at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, January 12, 2013. Photo: ©Stephen Dorian Miner

Erica Miner: I’ve lectured on all of the topics I have presented for my other lectures; mostly on opera and writing. My lectures on Journaling, interestingly, were always the most popular on the cruises. Which makes perfect sense: people have a lot of time on their hands when at sea, and Journaling is the perfect way of spending that time in a useful and gratifying way.

OperaMyLove Magazine: If you had the opportunity to meet and talk to any one person from any historical period, who would he or she be, and what would you ask them?

Erica Miner: Another tough question! I think that would have to be Mozart. I feel a deep psychological and emotional connection to him and his music. I would ask him how the music comes to him and in what form; what his favorite pieces are, his own and other composers’; and what he would want to compose if he could have lived for another ten or twenty years or more.

OperaMyLove Magazine: Do you have any new projects in the works at this time?

Erica Miner: Right now I’m in the midst of a very busy lecture season, so that, plus marketing and promoting my “Staged for Murder”, are my prime occupations at the moment. I have a fourth mystery in mind and have already spoken with my friends at San Diego Opera, which was my “home” company in the years I lived in that lovely city, about setting the next sequel there. They are excited about the prospect and I was told they know where some bodies are buried—that is a great start!

OperaMyLove Magazine: What is your greatest desire?

Erica Miner: Aside from hoping that as many people as possible will enjoy my books, my greatest desire is to see some relief from this unprecedented pandemic that is holding humankind hostage at the moment. So many people’s lives are being affected—everyone’s lives, truly—and our existence has been turned upside down. I would like to see the world function in a way that will allow us to breathe again. And I especially wish to see music being performed live again. I think performers have suffered in a uniquely difficult way: it’s virtually impossible to gather an audience in a theatre and have an entire company of performers interacting onstage as they need to do. I don’t know what the ultimate solution will be; but I fervently hope that music organizations, and especially opera companies, will somehow rise from the ashes.

OperaMyLove Magazine: Any message for our readers?

Erica Miner: Reading is one of the most enjoyable and edifying ways to spend your time as we remain limited in our ability to be out in the world at large, at least for now. I have many wonderful writing colleagues and belong to writers’ organizations that are now meeting on Zoom to stay connected and as active as possible in our world. I would like to encourage your readers to read as much as they can and support the writers’ community as much as possible. And most importantly, to STAY SAFE.

https://www.ericaminer.com

http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/StagedforMurder_ch1.html

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Four books with librettos from Niccolo` van Westerhout’s operas from the Rediscovered Operas Series: Cimbelino, Fortunio, Dona Flor and Colomba

“Rediscovered Operas Series” was created by Idea Press to propose the rediscovery of some operas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were operas written and set to music that, for incomprehensible reasons, have not had the response they deserved in the musical and opera world or had success but have been forgotten through the years. Their goal is to present the original librettos with the proper editing that does not change either the writing style or the language of the original text but corrects any typos and omissions caused by the damage that the original librettos may have undergone.

To this the authors added a proper but brief biography of the lyricist and of the composer, a story of the theater in which the opera was first performed and, whenever available, prefaces, articles, and introductions of the times that offer a better understanding of the content of the librettos, both as poetic compositions and as tales. We hope that this undertaking of theirs will help a rekindling of the interest by musicologists and by the large public in these worthy and marvelous operas.

 

 

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“Rediscovered Operas Series” brings forgotten operas back to life…

“Rediscovered Operas Series” was created by Idea Press to propose the rediscovery of some operas of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were operas written and set to music that, for incomprehensible reasons, have not had the response they deserved in the musical and opera world or had success but have been forgotten through the years. The editors’ goal is to present the original librettos with the proper editing that does not change either the writing style or the language of the original text but corrects any typos and omissions caused by the damage that the original librettos may have undergone. To this they added a proper but brief biography of the lyricist and of the composer, a story of the theater in which the opera was first performed and, whenever available, prefaces, articles, and introductions of the times that offer a better understanding of the content of the librettos, both as poetic compositions and as tales. They hope that this undertaking will help a rekindling of the interest by musicologists and by the large public in these worthy and marvelous operas.

Here are the first four volumes, which will be available by June 2020:

Cimbelino was the first opera byNiccolò van Westerhout; indeed, to be precise it was the second he composed, but unfortunately his’ first ”TILDE “was never represented and in any case that composition was lost. Cimbelino, therefore, was his first opera performed in 1892 at the Argentina Theater in Rome. From the journalistic reports of the time we know that the opera was a great success, and the Maestro himself was called to the proscenium many times during the execution. The libretto, written by Enrico Golisciani is taken from a drama written by William Shakespeare and tells of a British king, Cimbelino (Cymbeline) precisely, at the time of the conquest by the Roman Empire. A compelling story accompanied by a highly valuable musical composition.

In this book you will find precisely the plot of the opera in its originality. As far as possible, the editors wanted to keep the literary expressions of the time (1800); today some words or phrases would have been written in a different way, but it was important for them to bring to the attention of the fans the originality of the prose writing with which the maestro van Westerhout had to compare himself for his composition.

Fortunio, the second opera by Niccolò van Westerhout wasrepresented at the Lirico theater in Milan in 1895. This opera was intended for the debut at the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, but for various mishaps it was later moved to the Lirico. This opera, whose libretto was written by Giulio Scalinger, tells of a young woman, Musidora, who falls in love with a young man, Fortunio, who would be defined, nowadays, as a playboy or as womanizer. The woman, realizing the situation, commits suicide. An opera a little out of its time, but which begins to premise the changes and transformation of the melodrama of the late 1800s. Even in this transcription of the plot the originality of the booklet has been respected. The success achieved at his first performance in Milan was not like that of Cimbelino; in fact, the opera music was not easy to catch for the audience in general and it was necessary to be a little more refined to understand the various musical passages. Critics and opera enthusiasts, however, applauded the Maestro’s opera with intense favor.

Doña Flor, the third opera by the Maestro, which was performed in the aptly named Niccolò van Westerhout theater in Mola di Bari in 1896, was conceived for a small stage, exactly as it was in that theater. Van Westerhout dedicated it to his hometown as a tribute. The story was written by Arturo Colautti and set in 17th century Venice. The truly exciting tale ends in a much more tragic way than the operas of the time; in fact, Doña Flor, convinced by her husband, kills her lover, Alvise Malipiero, who is  innocent of the accusations made against him. A triangle of love, jealousy and far-fetched revenge.

This is considered the masterpiece of Niccolò van Westerhout, but like all of the Maestro’s musical production it was abandoned, until it was rediscovered and then had a second, this time international, debut in New York in 2010.

Colomba, the fourth and final opera by Niccolò, debuted in 1923 at the San Carlo theater in Naples, many years after the Maestro’s death. This performance was tenaciously desired by the brother of the composer Vincenzo van Westerhout and by a group of friends of the late Niccolò, who unfortunately died in 1898 at the young age of 41.

This opera, also written by the poet Arturo Colautti, is set in the Napoleonic era, in the early 1800s, and tells of a young soldier returning to his Sardinia from the defeat that Napoleon Bonaparte suffered in Waterloo. There he meets and falls in love with a young woman, Graziosa, who, because of family intrigues, is not allowed to marry. The tragic end of Graziosa, caused by Colomba, the young man’s sister, ends the opera and Colomba’s repentance is of no use as Graziosa dies in the arms of her lover.

 

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In these times of quarantine, a beautiful song can bring you hope…

Article by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Anna Maddalena Capasso has a beautiful voice, but that alone does not make a great opera singer, or for that even a great crossover singer, but Miss Capasso’s masterful handling of her voice is well beyond her age and not only shows promise, it shows that she is ready for big roles. She is, as she jokingly states, truly a diva in the making.

Her YouTube Channel offers a variety of song videos that will capture the attention of anyone who loves music as a whole, and undoubtedly whoever loves opera and musicals.

The variety of songs and arias that she has posted are intriguing and satisfactory in many ways. She has a classical aria such as Lascia ch’io pianga from the opera Rinaldo by Handel  but also operatic rendition of songs such as God Help the Outcasts from The Hunchback of Notre Dame  and Into the Unknown from the movie Frozen 2.

 And if it wasn’t enough, this delightful soprano also has her own versions of Neapolitan songs as Abbracciame and O’ Surdato ‘Nnamorato.

Other song complete her Internet performance on her channel in a pleasing and fulfilling manner, so I urge our readers to visit her YouTube channel and hear her superb renditions.

 

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Published in New York the vocal score of Pasquale La Rotella’s Stabat Mater

In the compositional parable of Pasquale La Rotella (Bitonto, March 5, 1880 ─ Bari, March 20, 1963) sacred music is an important and at least as significant as the one that saw him an opera composer, conductor, teacher and first director of the Liceo Musicale “Piccinni” in Bari.

Most of his sacred production dates back to the years when he was magistro et rectore of the “Schola Cantorum” of the Regia Basilica Palatina of San Nicola. It will be necessary to climb over chronologically two wars and forty long years of brilliant and multifaceted career as an all-round musician to find new pages of sacred music. The occasion to put the famous text of Jacopone Da Todi into music came to him from the celebrations for the 230th anniversary of the birth of Tommaso Traetta. In close correlation with the work of the famous countryman, La Rotella decided to deal with the treatment of one of the highest subjects of Western sacred art, composing, at the venerable age of seventy-seven, “his” Stabat.

PAPERBACK ISBN# 978-1-948651-04-2
HARDCOVER ISBN# 978-1-073751-40-2
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS # 2018914979

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Rossini Opera Festival opened on August 11th

ROF XL BEGINS 11 – 23 AGOSTO

10 AUGUST 2019
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The Rossini Opera Festival reaches the milestone of the 40th edition, dedicated to Montserrat Caballé and Bruno Cagli. The ROF XL will be held in Pesaro from 11 to 23 August and will present two new productions: Semiramide, co-produced with the Opéra Royal de Wallonie of Liège, conducted by Michele Mariotti and staged by Graham Vick, and L’equivoco extravagante, conducted by Carlo Rizzi and directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier. Third opera the extremely rare Demetrio and Polibio, scene and direction by Davide Livermore with Paolo Arrivabeni conducting. All three works will be broadcasted live on Rai RadioTre, while Semiramide will be broadcasted on Rai5 in autumn.

L’Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai si esibirà in Semiramide e L’equivoco stravagante insieme al Coro del Teatro Ventidio Basso; la Filarmonica Gioachino Rossini suonerà in Demetrio e Polibio con il Coro del Teatro della Fortuna M. Agostini.

Il cast di Semiramide, in programma alla Vitrifrigo Arena l’11, 14, 17 e 20 agosto alle 19, è guidato da Salome Jicia nel ruolo del titolo, accanto a Varduhi Abrahamyan (Arsace), Nahuel Di Pierro (Assur), Antonino Siragusa (Idreno), Martiniana Antonie (Azema), Carlo Cigni (Oroe), Alessandro Luciano (Mitrane), Sergey Artamonov (L’ombra di Nino).
Jessica Pratt (Lisinga), Cecilia Molinari (Demetrio-Siveno), Juan Francisco Gatell (Demetrio-Eumene) e Riccardo Fassi (Polibio) canteranno in Demetrio e Polibio, in scena al Teatro Rossini il 12, 15, 18 e 23 agosto alle 20.
Il cast dell’Equivoco stravagante, in programma alla Vitrifrigo Arena il 13, 16, 19 e 22 agosto alle 20, comprende Teresa Iervolino (Ernestina), Paolo Bordogna (Gamberotto), Davide Luciano (Buralicchio), Pavel Kolgatin (Ermanno), Claudia Muschio (Rosalia) e Manuel Amati (Frontino).

Completeranno il programma Il viaggio a Reims degli allievi dell’Accademia Rossiniana “Alberto Zedda”, diretto da Nikolas Nägele alla testa dell’Orchestra Sinfonica Rossini (18 e 20 agosto alle 11 al Teatro Rossini); il Gala ROF XL, il 21 agosto alle 20.30 alla Vitrifrigo Arena, con alcuni tra i maggiori cantanti rossiniani di oggi (Nicola Alaimo, Paolo Bordogna, Lawrence Brownlee, Juan Diego Flórez, Ruzil Gatin, Valeria Girardello, Anna Goryachova, Alessandro Luciano, Angela Meade, Claudia Muschio, Mirco Palazzi, Michele Pertusi, Sergey Romanovsky e Franco Vassallo; la Cantata La riconoscenza, il 14 agosto alle 16 al Teatro Rossini, diretta da Donato Renzetti ed eseguita dalla Filarmonica G. Rossini e dal Coro del Coro del Teatro della Fortuna M. Agostini, voci soliste Carmela Remigio, Victoria Yarovaya, Ruzil Gatin e Riccardo Fassi; le Soirées musicales nella versione orchestrata da Fabio Maestri, il 16 agosto alle 16 al Teatro Rossini, eseguita dalla Filarmonica G. Rossini diretta da Michele Spotti, voci soliste Maria Laura Iacobellis, Valeria Girardello, Xabier Anduaga e Carles Pachón; due Concerti lirico-sinfonici con protagonista l’Orchestra Sinfonica Rossini: il 19 agosto alle 16 al Teatro Rossini diretta da Carlo Tenan e con le voci di Varduhi Abrahamyan e Jessica Pratt; il 23 agosto alle 16, sempre al Teatro Rossini, diretta da Alessandro Bonato e con le voci di Anna Goryachova e Simone Alberghini; due Concerti di Belcanto (Angela Meade il 17 agosto alle 16 al Teatro Rossini; Antonino Siragusa il 22 agosto alle 16, sempre al Rossini); il nuovo appuntamento di Rossinimania, il 15 agosto alle 11 al Teatro Rossini, protagonisti gli Italian Harmonists, le voci della Scala in un quintetto unico in Italia.

Il Festival 2019 si attua con il contributo di Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Comune di Pesaro, Regione Marche, in collaborazione con Intesa Sanpaolo e Fondazione Gruppo Credito Valtellinese; con l’apporto di Abanet Internet Provider, Bartorelli-Rivenditore autorizzato Rolex, Eden Viaggi, Grand Hotel Vittoria – Savoy Hotel – Alexander Museum Palace Hotel, Harnold’s, Hotel Excelsior, Ratti Boutique, Subito in auto, Teamsystem, Websolute. Partecipano AMAT-Associazione marchigiana attività teatrali, AMI-Azienda per la mobilità integrata e trasporti, ASPES Spa, Azienda Ospedaliera San Salvatore, Centro IAT – Informazione e accoglienza turistica, Conservatorio di musica G. Rossini. Si ringrazia UBI Banca per il contributo erogato tramite Art Bonus.

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La Traviata: A wonderful night at the opera in this cozy suburban city of New Rochelle…

Review by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

What a pleasant surprise was attending a performance of La Traviata presented by the New Rochelle Opera at the Frank J. Auriana Theatre in New Rochelle!

The level of expertise demonstrated by the performers and musicians was very high and the overall effect was exhilarating even for someone like me who, through the years, has witnessed many versions of this opera.

From the left, Denise Battle as Annina, John Dominick III as Dr. Grenvil, Gabriel Hernandez as Alfredo Germont, Kelli Butler as Violetta, and Chad Armstrong as Giorgio Germont

Kelli Butler was an amazing Violetta, convincing in her ailing beauty act, which was at times so touching that I forgot it was not real and felt emotionally distressed. Moreover, she offered an impeccable and exciting singing performance, worthy of much more famous venues.

Having such an outstanding performer as the main female character certainly would have been sufficient to carry this opera through at a decent level, but she was propitiously surrounded by so many talented professionals and the performance turned out to be truly an outstanding one.

The other great singing revelation of the night was Chad Armstrong, who showed amazing vocal power in his portrayal of Giorgio Germont. He is a baritone who will have great success.

Satisfactory but not rousing the performance of Gabriel Hernandez as Alfredo Germont, who showed great control of his voice but limited power and furthermore was not very convincing as acting goes, carrying an almost unchanged facial expression throughout most of the opera. I am sure that he has talent and time will allow it to surface completely.

Excellent in their roles as Flora and Baron Douphol, Sara Petrocelli and Kevin Johnson demonstrated their vocal and acting skills are quite ready for bigger parts. Bravo goes to Chad Kranak as Gastone and Javier Ortiz as the Marquis D’Obigny for their significant contribution to the positive outcome of the performance. Mr. Ortiz, in particular, has remarkable voice skills and will go far.

I found more than adequate the chorus as the Ladies and Gentlemen of Paris.

The direction and production by Camille Coppola were so well coordinated that the spectator would be unable to remember that he or she was in a small theater and could instead become completely absorbed by the events unfolding in this magnificent Verdian opera. Kudos goes to the director and the scenic designer (Eric Zoback) who were able to make you enjoy the developments of the story without witnessing any possible clumsiness due to the limited space on stage.

The scene with the gypsy dancers was magnificent and the dancers (Michelle Foard, Mary Gingrich,  Christine Perone, and Kim Smart) were quite accomplished. Again, it was amazing how this could have been done on such a small stage and still make it look natural.

It is true that no matter how good the performers are, it is the orchestra the one that creates the proper environment for the singer to excel, and it was done so thanks to a great conductor (Brian Holman) and the excellent musicians in the orchestra: they delivered a superb execution and their music never drowned the singers’ voices.

Another remarkable characteristic of this performance was that all the singers, chorus included, demonstrated a magnificent Italian diction, representative of a high level of preparation and professionality.

It was a wonderful night at the opera in this cozy suburban city of New Rochelle…

(This review refers to the performance of June 23, 2019)

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June 21st, 2019 Declared Tiziano Thomas Dossena Day In Yonkers

June 21st, 2019 declared Tiziano Thomas Dossena Day in Yonkers.

The mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano, declared June 21st, 2019 Tiziano Thomas Dossena Day in Yonkers because of his many achievements in the publishing world. Dossena is the author of “Caro Fantozzi,” published by Scriptum Press in December 2008, “Dona Flor, An Opera by van Westerhout,” published by Idea Publications in April 2010, “Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights,” published by Idea Press in December 2016 and of the upcoming three books The Dance of ColorThe Rebirth of an Opera, and New York City’s Italian Imprint, the Statues and Monuments of and by Italians in the Big Apple.

His works have appeared in over 100 magazines and anthologies in Italy, France, Greece, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States. Dossena is the founder and Editor in Chief of two magazines, OperaMyLove and OperaAmorMio, both founded in Yonkers, and has been the Editorial Director of L’Idea Magazine since 1990.

On June 2nd, 2019, Dossena won the prestigious 2019 OSIA Literary Award.

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Our director wins the 2019 OSIA Literary Award!

 

Our Editorial Director wins the 2019 OSIA LITERARY AWARD!

On June 1st, 2019, in front of the statewide delegates and dignitaries of the New York State Grand Lodge of the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America,  President Robert Ferrito presented our Director Tiziano Thomas Dossena with the prestigious 2019 OSIA Literary Award “for his contribution to the Italian American Experience in America.”  The author also received a citation from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

From the left, OSIA NY STATE President Robert Ferrito, Tiziano Thomas Dossena, Literary Award co-Chair Geraldine Iannello Graham.

Dossena, who is the Recording Secretary of Tuckahoe’s OSIA Giuseppe Garibaldi Lodge 2583, is the author of “Caro Fantozzi,” published by Scriptum Press in December 2008, “Doña Flor, An Opera by Niccolò van Westerhout,” published by Idea Publications in April 2010, “Sunny Days and Sleepless Nights,” published by Idea Press in December 2016 and of the upcoming three books “The Dance of Color,” “The Rebirth of an Opera,” andNew York City’s Italian Imprint, the Statues and Monuments of and by Italians in the Big Apple.”

His works have appeared in over 100 magazines and anthologies in Italy, France, Greece, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States. Dossena is the founder and Editor in Chief of two magazines, OperaMyLove and OperaAmorMio, and has been the Editorial Director of L’Idea Magazine since 1990.

NY State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Tiziano Thomas Dossena

In 2011, Tiziano Thomas Dossena was honored for both literary work and community service work at the New York State Assembly by New York State Assemblyman, Joseph Saladino. In 2012, the author received the International PREMIO GLOBO TRICOLORE award “for the outstanding efforts at keeping the Italian Image known in the world through his literary works”. In 2014, he was asked to read poems at the 9/11 Memorial Ceremony in Yonkers.

The whole staff of L’Idea magazine congratulates him for having earned such an important award and wishes him further accolades and honors.

 Please click here to view the award’s presentation.

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Boheme Opera NJ Celebrates Three Decades with Reunion Concert

Boheme Opera NJ returns to Grounds For Sculpture on Sunday May 19 from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
in celebration of its 30th Anniversary Season. 


Experience live recital performances by operatic voices during Boheme’s Reunion Concert commemorating this exciting milestone. WWFM, The Classical Network, joins Boheme as it broadcasts the concert LIVE on-air from the GFS East Gallery.

Boheme Artistic Director Joseph Pucciatti and WWFM Host of Sunday Opera Michael Kownacky will co-host the event, which will include on-air artist interviews.  The concert is free with entry to the Grounds.

Featuring talented leading role singers from its past and recent main stage history, and accompanied by guest pianists, an array of live excerpts from various operas will be heard, presenting a thriving generation of artistry. Among the featured singers is tenor Ronald Naldi, who made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1983, having sung over 300 performances there, and whose repertoire comprises over 100 operatic roles in six languages, and more than 30 oratorios;  fellow Metropolitan Opera baritone Daniel Sutin made his debut there in 2001 and has sung leading roles in opera houses throughout the U.S., Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Stuttgart, Monchengladbach, Basel and Zurich.  Joining them are sopranos Valerie BernhardtLorraine ErnestSungji KimKristin K. Vogel, mezzo-soprano Amy Maude Helfer, bass-baritone Stefanos Koroneosand bass Martin Hargrove, among others.

Throughout its 30 years, Boheme Opera NJ has paved the way for young singers on their way to brilliant careers and has provided opportunities for established singers to debut new leading roles.  Initiating its first main stage season in 1989, Boheme Opera performed for several years at the Patriots Theater in the Trenton War Memorial, then moving its main stage to The College of New Jersey in 2010.

In recent years, under the leadership of Boheme Opera President Jerrold Kalstein, the company has expanded its outreach programming thematically and geographically to demonstrate its performance versatility.  Audiences in the New Jersey Counties of Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Burlington, Camden, and Hunterdon, as well as Pennsylvania’s Bucks Counties, have been fortunate to experience the operatic gifts that Boheme Opera has to offer. Life-long learning and youth education programs have also dotted Boheme’s history, while annual collaborations have been popular at such venues as Hamilton’s iconic Grounds For Sculpture, Monroe Township’s Cultural Commission at Monroe Township Public Library and Warminster, PA’s premiere adult community Ann’s Choice.

Funding for Boheme Opera NJ programs is made possible in part by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, The Mark David and Anne Kupferberg Pepper Family Foundation, Dorothea Van Dyke McLane Association, Roma Bank Community Foundation, Investors Bank Community Foundation, corporations, businesses, individuals and collaborative contributions.
For more information about Boheme Opera NJ’s Reunion Concert and other programming, visit www.bohemeopera.com.

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