This weekend, Charlottesville Opera audiences will get not only a taste of the local company’s past decade at the Paramount Theater, but also a glimpse of how it looks forward to the future.
“Encore! Charlottesville Opera Favorites,” which will be presented Saturday and Sunday at the Paramount, will give listeners a chance to hear experienced singers and up-and-coming members of the opera company’s Young Artists and Apprentice Artists program.
“We’re opening the 2019 season with a celebration of 10 years in the Paramount Theater,” said David O’Dell, who became Charlottesville Opera’s new general director in January.
“If you’re an opera lover, you’ll hear a lot of your favorite arias,” O’Dell said. “If you’re new to opera, it’s a great introduction.”
Puccini selections will include “Un bel di” from “Madame Butterfly”; “Quando men vo” from “La Boheme”; the beloved “Nessun dorma” from “Turandot”; and “Recondita Armonia,” “Scarpia’s Death” and “Vissi d’arte” from “Tosca.” Music from the third act of “La Boheme” awaits after intermission.
“Cortigiani” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto” is included, as is the Quintet from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.”
Other selections planned for after intermission include “Habanera,” “Duet” and “Votre Toast” from Bizet’s “Carmen,” Mozart’s “O Soave se il vento” from “Cosi fan tutte” and Bernstein’s “Make Our Garden Grow” from “Candide.”
O’Dell said the selections are “highly emotionally charged,” covering plenty of territory “from love to anticipation to anger to despair.” Many listeners who don’t consider themselves opera fans will recognize familiar melodies that have been used for “selling everything from cars to pizza,” O’Dell said.
“It’s an ideal piece for both the aficionado and the uninitiated or newbie,” he said. “It fires on all cylinders in that respect.”
Audience members will recognize some of the selections from previous seasons in the Paramount. Others give Charlottesville Opera the chance to present familiar arias from massive operas that wouldn’t always be chosen for the Paramount’s space.
The principal singers are sopranos Victoria Cannizzo and Colleen Daly, baritone Malcolm MacKenzie and tenors Cooper Nolan and Michael Gray.
Singers from the Young Artists and Apprentice Artists program will include Tahanee Aluwihare, Tascha Anderson, Dylan Elza, Celeste Godin, Michael Gray, Virginia Hesse, Nathan Kessel, Eric Smedstrud and Jacob Surzyn. The ensemble members are Megan Callahan, Louis Riva, Megan Stapleton and Jacob Surzyn.
Steven Jarvi, who has spent nine seasons with the company, will conduct the Charlottesville Opera Orchestra, which will leave the pit area to take the stage for the special performances. “It’s a really wonderful opportunity to see the orchestra for a change,” O’Dell said with a chuckle.
Bob Chapel will direct the production. The former producing artistic director of Heritage Theatre Festival also is directing for Charlottesville Opera on Wednesday and July 5 in Grisham Hall at St. Anne’s-Belfield School with “The Tragedy of Carmen.” Chapel saw the original production of the Georges Bizet/Peter Brook opera in 1982.
O’Dell said Brook has taken a fresher, leaner look at Bizet’s “Carmen” by trimming away chorus numbers and streamlining the story.
To learn more about the new season, go to charlottesvilleopera.org.