Sunday, December 14, 2003

Several performers prepare to make local debut



Cincinnati Opera has announced updated casting for its Summer Festival.

American soprano Celena Shafer makes her Cincinnati Opera debut as Marie in Donizetti's The Daughter of the Regiment (June 17 and 19). Tenor Lawrence Brownlee will sing Tonio and Timothy Nolen will appear as Sergeant Sulpice. Christopher Larkin will make his company debut as conductor, and veteran director/choreographer Dorothy Danner will direct the production, which comes from Opera Company of Philadelphia.

In the double bill (June 24 and 26), Patrick Summers, music director for Houston Grand Opera, will take the podium for his Cincinnati Opera debut. The new production will be staged by artistic director Nicholas Muni, joined by the production team that created last year's Triple Bill, Dany Lyne (set and costume design) and Thomas C. Hase (lighting).

Baritone Brian Leerhuber will sing the title role in Viktor Ullmann's The Emperor of Atlantis. He'll be joined by bass Andrew Gangestad (Death), tenor Ray M. Wade Jr. (Soldier) and soprano Nancy Allen Lundy (Bubikopf).

In Peter Bengtson's The Maids, the roles of the two sisters will be created by mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy (Solange) and Nancy Allen Lundy (Claire).

In Mozart's Don Giovanni (July 8, 10 and 16), Canadian soprano Alexandra Deshorties, a winner of the 1997 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, will take her first bow with the company as Donna Anna. British soprano Sarah Fox, whom Muni calls, "a star in the making," will make her United States debut in the role of Zerlina.

Shawn Mathey appears as Ottavio, Michele Bianchini returns as Leporello and University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music grad Dana Beth Miller will sing Donna Elvira. Norwegian-American bass Gustav Andreassen will sing the Commendatore.

CCM graduate Josemaria Condemi will direct the company's production. (The devilish Don will be sung by New Zealand star Teddy Tahu Rhodes.)

There is no new casting information for Bizet's Carmen, which concludes the season (July 17, 20, 23 and 25), starring Denyce Graves and Richard Leech in the lead roles.

For complete casting, visit www.cincinnatiopera.org.

Janelle Gelfand




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