Sunday, February 17, 2002
Opera star Graves to open arts center
By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Opera star Denyce Graves will help the Dayton Opera christen its new home in the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, when she performs a gala recital, May 2 and 4, 2003.
It's exciting to have this new wonderful venue to present her in, says Thomas Bankston, Dayton Opera's artistic director. I hope to continue this on a yearly basis, in which we would bring someone the caliber of Denyce every year for a recital appearance.
Miss Graves will be the Schuster Center's first solo recitalist. The $120 million performing arts center, designed by Cesar Pelli, is set to open in March 2003.
The Dayton Opera will begin its 2002-03 season by closing a chapter. Mozart's The Magic Flute (Oct. 19, 25 and 27), will take place in the company's old home in Memorial Hall.
The cast of The Magic Flute, an Opera Memphis production, includes Brian Downen (Tamino); Mary Elizabeth Southworth (Pamina); Curt Olds (Papageno); Mary Wilson (Queen of the Night); and Eric Jordan (Sarastro). Dayton Philharmonic maestro Neal Gittleman will conduct.
In March, the company will move into the Schuster Center, where Verdi's Aida will be the first opera to grace the new stage (March 22, 28 and 30, 2003).
The cast includes Michele Capalbo (Aida); Scott Piper (Radames) who recently performed the role in a new production under director Franco Zeffirelli in Italy; Jill Grove (Amneris), who was heard this year singing Magdalena in Metropolitan Opera broadcasts of Die Meistersinger, and Mark Doss (Amonasro), who recently sang in Nabucco in Cincinnati.
Although not yet confirmed, the company is looking at a production owned by Montreal Opera. Charles Wendelken-Wilson is the conductor.
The Dayton Opera season will end with Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway hit, The Phantom of the Opera, a special offering for Dayton Opera subscribers, June 20-22.
Miss Graves, who sang her first Amneris in Cincinnati Opera's Aida in 2000, is one of America's most renowned opera stars. The mezzo-soprano recently performed America the Beautiful in a nationally televised memorial service for victims of Sept. 11 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Pianist Warren Jones will collaborate with her in arias from operas such as Samson and Dalila and Carmen.
The gala recital is something that doesn't happen in Cincinnati, Mr. Bankston points out. Hopefully we'll be able to draw some of that audience up to Dayton. Now with this new beautiful facility, it will be a gracious place for people to come and see what we do in terms of our productions.
He adds that while it is an exciting time for the company, it is challenging, too. He anticipates the operating budget next season will be $1.8 million. (To compare, Cincinnati Opera has a budget of about $6 million.) That could grow, he says, as the company mounts bigger productions now possible with larger stage and orchestra pit facilities.
The Schuster opens up a lot of new possibilities, he says. All of these things cost more money, and that is the challenge.
The Dayton Opera Star Gala is a part of the four-performance subscription series ($202-$241). Single tickets will be available at a later date.
Brochures will be mailed to subscribers next week. For information: (937) 228-3630, (888) 228-3630 or go to daytonopera.org.
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