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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Opera lovers, rejoice: The Lorin Maazel Castleton Institute is born!!

We are proud to announce the birth of the Lorin Maazel Castleton Institute. Its aims are to prepare new opera performers and opera students for a stage appearance by giving them tools that have not been offered until now. More information will follow on a separate article, but in the meanwhile here is some useful info on the available sessions in New York City.


NEW YORK SESSIONS

FIRST SESSION: MAY 1 TO MAY 6, 2019

“Performing Italian Opera: Tradition and Practice”

SECOND SESSION: MAY 10 TO MAY 15, 2019

“German Repertory Immersion- The Operas of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss”

Dietlinde Turban Maazel

These first two sessions will be led by Dietlinde Turban Maazel, soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs, and conductor Mo. Michael Recchiuti. Other faculty members will also participate on a daily basis. The curriculum will focus not only on the performance of music with its attendant disciplines: languages, interpretation, body movement, but also on physical and psychological wellness, study techniques, and career planning.

Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs

These sessions will be based in the Gurari Studios at the National Opera Center, 330 Seventh Avenue, New York, a state of the art performance and recording facility, offering the invaluable capacity to record and study performances and classes in the heart of Manhattan under the guidance of a highly skilled recording engineer.

Michael Recchiuti

Each session will begin with a video recording session for each singer. This establishes a “baseline” from which to plan each student’s individualized work plan for the week.

Jeremy Gerard

Jeremy Gerard, Chief Engineer of the Gurari Studios, an engineer with over twenty- five years of professional experience will give a class on the critical skills of how to optimize a singer’s experience in the recording studio. There will be daily private lessons on the singer’s repertory, language coaching, interpretive study, and the overall well- being of the artist. Each evening all participants and faculty will convene at the National Opera Center for a three hour Master Class. The week will culminate in a recital that will be video recorded and live-streamed on the internet.

Eric Malson

All students will leave with a high-quality video of their performance, a necessity today for all applications to schools, competitions, and artist agencies. The videotaping at the beginning and end of each week’s session will provide a comprehensive metric to demonstrate each student’s progress.

Selected students will be invited to Castleton, Virginia, to perform concerts in the Castleton in Performance series during the season.

Applications for the program will consist of a CV, video/audio recordings submitted online, or a live audition in NYC. The classes will be limited to 6 active participants, 2 alternates, and 10 auditors.

Live auditions will be held on April 15,2019 at Gurari Studios at the National Opera Center, NYC.

Please direct any questions to Kristen Norwark at (646)275-9525 orKristenN@CastletonFestival.org

 

APPLICATION INFORMATION

Live Audition Application Deadline – April 10, 2019
Video Submission Application Deadline – April 15, 2019
Application Fee: $25
Tuition: $650 for each session
Auditor’s Fee – $150.00. Auditors may attend all evening Master Classes

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Music, from Richmond County to the World. Exclusive interview with Maestro Alan Aurelia

Interview  by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

Based in New York City, one of the most diverse and culturally rich environments for the arts and the many artists it supports, Maestro Alan Aurelia has distinguished himself as a conductor, an arts advocate, educator, and administrator. He is currently the music director of the Richmond County Orchestra, New American Youth Ballet and artistic director/conductor of the Riverside Opera Company.
He received full scholarships and fellowships to study at the Hartt School in Hartford,
Connecticut and the Conductors Institute at the University of South Carolina,
Columbia. He has served on the music faculties of Wagner College, the College of
Staten Island and the Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Describing Maestro Aurelia’s virtuosity, composer and conductor Lukas Foss stated
that “He conducts very naturally, effortlessly and clearly enabling all in the
orchestra to follow every musical nuance and inflection quite easily”.
At the conclusion of a concert that Maestro Aurelia conducted in Italy, Joel Cohen of
the Staten Island Advance wrote that “he was called back five times for bows by a
standing ovation audience” and Michael Fressola, also from the Advance, noted
that “The concert strikes a multicultural chord with the audience”.
Under his baton, the Richmond County Orchestra was selected to perform at
the Guggenheim Museum’s NY.2022, a multi-media creation by Parisian visual artist
Dominique Gonzalez-Forester with music by the Berlin-based composer, Ari Benjamin
Meyers, which received a rave review from the New York Times. Maestro Aurelia has
also performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and he has been asked to conduct
in Carnegie Hall as well as in Miami, Florida, and Mexico. He has been a guest
conductor for the Bacau Philharmonic from Romania during Tuscany’s “Festival
Sinfonico di Massa” and for the Kiev Strings in Montegnioso.
In addition to performing the standard symphonic orchestral literature, Maestro Aurelia
conducts the opera, ballet, premiers of new compositions as well as the music of
Broadway. As a consequence of his versatility, he is comfortable in an array of
different genres and creates interesting and exciting programs that appeal to a broad
audience.
Maestro Aurelia’s Side-by-Side program for students stands out as a significant
marker of his dedication to music education, which is also reflected in the
establishment of the RCO Musicians Contest and the Instrument Petting Zoo,
programs that he initiated as music director of the Richmond County Orchestra that
actively support music education for young students in the New York metropolitan
area.
He has received several awards and honors for excellence in performance, education
and community relations. He has appeared on many local radio and TV programs in
New York and serves as chairman of the Board for Tribeca Music and Art in
Manhattan.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You are the Music Director of the Richmond County Orchestra and the New American Youth Ballet Orchestra. How different is being the Music Director of an orchestra and of a Ballet group?
Alan Aurelia : It is easier to conduct the RCO when we are doing symphonic music together because there are just two variables orchestra and me. Together we try to make the composers music sound its best. When dancers are added to the mix the challenge becomes making the music “fit” the dancers’ movements, jumps, and gestures. The music has to be in the right tempo, time with the dancer(s). It’s akin to, the buzzer has to go off when your finger touches the doorbell, not before. The good thing about conducting ballet music with dancers is you don’t have to worry about playing too loud.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You are also Artistic Director/Conductor for the Riverside Opera Company. What does this entail versus the positions that I refer to in the preceding question?
Alan Aurelia: Accompanying singers, with orchestra, especially opera is the most challenging conducting. Voices are very delicate instruments and as such, singers need to take liberties with tempos because of breathing, and a good opera conductor must never allow the orchestra to drown out the singer.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: What is the operatic program of the Riverside Opera Company and where do they operate?
Alan Aurelia: The Riverside Opera Company is celebrating its 22nd season! Although based on Staten Island, it has performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington Square Park for Garibaldi’s bicentennial. They have performed all the major operas with full orchestra and continues to perform the popular opera numbers many times combining popular pieces as well as Broadway numbers.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: When did you realize you wanted to be a music conductor?
Alan Aurelia: I was student director of my High School Symphonic Band and conducted many community orchestras and bands, then having a successful career as an instrumentalist, I was offered my first professional conducting position in 1993 for a local NYC ballet company orchestra and have been conducting professionally ever since.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Are you still teaching in college? Did you also teach instrumentation?
Alan Aurelia: I was on the Music Faculty of three colleges and universities in NYC, now retired, I have private students and teach at a local Music Conservatory.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Which one is the opera you feel is the most rewarding for you as a conductor and why? And the most challenging one, if any?
Alan Aurelia: All operas are equally challenging. depending on the singers, production staff, directors you are working with because it all affects the music making.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: What characteristics do you feel make a better orchestra conductor?
Alan Aurelia: Know the music well before first rehearsal and with a minimal gesture from one’s baton or hand, convey the composer’s musical ideas clearly, enabling thus the musicians to perform at their optimum ability. A good conductor is a good teacher as well as a learner and must show compassion for the orchestra and vocal musicians as well as dancers. Years and years of conducting helps to make better conductors  It took me ten years before I felt comfortable in front of an orchestra. Many orchestra boards today make the mistake of hiring the young “wunderkind” conductor and problems generally
ensue.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: You directed orchestras from different nations. Have you found a different attitude among the orchestra members, as music interpretation goes? Do you feel that music is so universal as to flatten out ethnic and racial differences?
Alan Aurelia: My experience has been, whether conducting in the US or abroad, that if the conductor is sensitive to the musicians’ needs, mostly musical ones, they will perform well.

Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie with RCO

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: Are there any new projects you are working on?
Alan Aurelia: I am always seeking to do more concerts for the public, as a guest conductor or taking the award-winning Richmond County Orchestra on tour.

Tiziano Thomas Dossena: If you could meet anyone from the past or the present, who would he or she be? What would you like to ask them? What would you like to tell them?
Alan Aurelia: Wow, this is a hard one because there are so many people. But if I had to choose one it would be the conductor Arturo Toscanini and I’d ask him if he truly had a photographic memory.

 

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Let’s Meet a Rising Star: An Exclusive interview with the soprano AnnaMaddalena Capasso

Interview by Tiziano Thomas Dossena

A young and very promising soprano is having a great success in Italy and we at OperaMyLove were fortunate to meet her for an interview. 

OperaMyLove:  You are very young, yet you have been in the opera world for a while. What prompted your interest in this field?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso:  I was five when I saw for the first time at the San Carlo of Naples “La Bohème”  by Puccini. After the show, I told to my mother:” When I grow up I’ll be an opera singer!”

OperaMyLove:  Which character did you find more challenging to prepare for, and perform?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Every role has its own difficulty, but one of the most complex for me it was Elvira from I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini.

OperaMyLove:  Which soprano do you admire the most and why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Maria Callas has been the greatest interpreter of the 20th century. I love her. When I was younger, someone told me that I looked like her, aesthetically. Destiny wants me to have Greek ancestors from my mother and this inspires me even more.

OperaMyLove:  What has been the most rewarding performing experience you had so far?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: I had many rewarding experiences, but what I will remember for a lifetime was during a Christmas concert in a church in the Quartieri Spagnoli of Naples. I interpreted the Virgin Mary who was singing the Brahms’s lullaby to Jesus. The audience went into raptures; they said that I really looked like a sacred image. (Truthfully she does have a resemblance to some of the paintings of the Virgin Mary…)

OperaMyLove:  Who is the opera character that you would love to be cast in? Why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: I’d like to interpret “Lucia of Lammermoor” by Donizetti. She is very macabre, romantic, strong and fragile character. I like to play such complex characters.

OperaMyLove:  What were your recent performances? Did you find them challenging? Rewarding? To your satisfaction?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: My last interpretation has yet to come, it’s always a challenge! I will never be satisfied!

OperaMyLove:  Who is the performer you were thrilled to work with and why?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: More than with an interpreter I’d like to work with a great conductor Daniel Barenboim, I love his way of directing.

OperaMyLove:  Do you have any upcoming projects?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Sure! I’m making a series of videos to introduce the world of the opera to as many people as possible! Follow me on my Instagram account @the_eternal_diva or my YouTube channel! (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFJRAw0u55r9D0QtDSgUI3w) You will see some beautiful ones!!

OperaMyLove:  I read that you are a passionate fan of your hometown soccer team, A.C. Napoli. Was this passion passed on to you by your father? Do you have any other passions and/or hobbies?
AnnaMaddalena Capasso: Yes, It’s true! I often go to the stadium; it’s a passion that was born alone! Sometimes I say that I have “blue blood”… (AnnaMaddalena laughs) ! In Naples everything is blue!
I have so many passions, one of these is the Manga; I go to the comic convention in Cosplay, the last character I Played was Sailor Moon at Napoli Comicon.
I really like reading literature classics; I love Disney’s movies and doing outdoor sports: swimming, diving, archery, running, climbing and above all, traveling! On the other hand, as Shakespeare said:”The whole world is a stage!”

 

AnnaMaddalena Capasso is a lyric coloratura soprano. With a distinctive voice and a strong ability to interpret, she was born in Torre del Greco on 04/07/1992.
AnnaMaddalena grew up in a family of artists in the graphic field. From an early age she showed a strong tendency in the music. She began studying opera singing at five. At sixteen she was admitted to the Conservatory of Music San Pietro a Majella in Naples, where she graduated in opera singing. Meanwhile, she participated in numerous opera performances, including “La Traviata” by Verdi at the Museum Donnaregina of Naples, ” Dialogues of the Carmelites ” by Poulenc at the Conservatory of Naples. At nineteen, she graduated from the high school with the linguistic project Jug, where in addition to deepen the study of modern languages it expands to the study of classical languages.

She participated in numerous national and international competitions for opera singers, including the X Singing Competition organized by the International Institute for Opera and Poetry and the Fondazione Arena di Verona and the VII international opera competition “Magda Olivero,” always receiving great appreciation by the jury. AnnaMaddalena won the third prize in the XIII National Competition of music created by ” Lions Club ” in Mercato San Severino.  She interpreted in the Opera ”Mas’Aniello” by Jacopo Napoli the roles of The Queen and Marco Vitale. The same year she participated in a Master Class on the work held by the German master Adi Bar, interpreting the arias of the Queen of Night from ” The Magic Flute ” by Mozart. She also attended a lecture by M. Irene Crodelia Huberti. She performed in several concerts with the ” Cantori di Posillipo ”.

In the year 2014/2015, she attended a specialization course in opera at academy of Osimo, studying with Raina Kabaivanska, Harriet Lawson, William Matteuzzi, Anna Vandi, Alla Simoni, Carlo Morganti, Angelo Gabrielli and the artistic director of the San Carlo theater and Opera Academy Vincenzo De Vivo.

In December 2015, she took part in the Bohème by Puccini at the Teatro La Nuova Fenice in Osimo.

She took part in Bizet’s Carmen held at the same directed by Matteo Mazzoni, with the participation of Luca Violini and the conduction of Maestro Alessandro Benigni.

In May 2016 she participated in historical staging of Fedora (Giordano)  directed by Lamberto Puggelli at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, conducted by Asher Fisch and Maurizio Agostini.

In July 2016, she performed the Nabucco of G. Verdi to the Reggia of Caserta with Leo Nucci, the conduction of Daniel Oren and the direction by Stefano Trespidi.
She was awarded the ‘Naples in the World’ award.

She sings in five languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Japanese. Her repertoire ranges from the Opera to sacred music.

 Gallery

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