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February 10, 2010 > Theatre Preview: Love is in the 'Aria'

Theatre Preview: Love is in the 'Aria'

Fremont Opera celebrates Valentine's Day

By Eman Isadiar
Photos By courtesy of Fremont Opera

On Sunday, February 14 at 4 p.m., Fremont Opera presents a special Valentine's Day program titled "Romance in Opera" at Mission Coffee Roasting Company. Founder and artistic director David Sloss will recount in colorful detail some of opera's most tempestuous love affairs, with selections performed by vocal stars Marie Plette, Elisabeth Russ and Christopher Bengochea. Pianist Simona Snitkovskaya will accompany the singers on Mission Coffee's Medallion Steinway.

Love, jealousy, murder - all in a day's work at Fremont Opera

"Romance in Opera," explains David Sloss "is a program which gives us the chance to perform some of opera's most passionate and spectacularly beautiful music." He adds, "It's about operatic romances which fail because of the characters themselves - not because a jealous husband kills someone, or the heroine dies from TB, or fate intervenes."

"These are all stories about people who could have lived happily ever after, if they hadn't ruined everything themselves."

The program includes three numbers from Massenet's "Manon," which tells the story of a girl who cannot decide between love and money. She can either stay with the poor tenor she loves, or leave him for the rich baritone who can give her the elegant life she craves. Of course, she tries to have both, and ends up losing everything.

There will also be three selections from Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," which, Sloss admits, is "the most intriguing and confusing opera ever written." He explains, "Two young men believe their fiancˇes are faithful, and put it to the test by disguising themselves and wooing each other's girl. By the end, it's impossible to know who's in love with whom. Opera directors are still struggling to figure out how the finale of the opera should be staged."

To complement the soul-stirring music, Mission Coffee's Gael Stewart has planned an appropriate selection of savory treats included in the ticket price.

The Artists

Soprano Marie Plette has performed with such prestigious companies as the Metropolitan Opera and San Francisco Opera. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 1992, Ms. Plette made her Metropolitan Opera debut as the First Lady in Mozart's "The Magic Flute." She has since returned to the Met many times, and has also appeared frequently in leading roles with major opera companies in the US and abroad.

Soprano Elisabeth Russ has impressed critics with her "bright, fluent, well-trained soprano" and her gifts as "a natural comedian with a subtle theatrical intelligence". She has appeared in major roles with opera companies nationwide, including Bay Area companies Opera San Josˇ, West Bay Opera and Livermore Valley Opera.

Basque-American tenor Christopher Bengochea has been hailed for his "power, sure intonation and fine diction that come in a package tied with a ribbon of natural sound." Mr. Bengochea has appeared in numerous leading roles as a Resident Artist with Opera San Josˇ, and has also performed extensively throughout the United States. He was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a winner of the Henry and Maria Holt Memorial Scholarship and the Teatro Felice Vocal Competition.

Speaker David Sloss is artistic director of Fremont Opera, and also celebrates his 30th season as music director and conductor of Fremont Symphony. He was general director of West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, where he conducted over twenty productions during his long association with the company. He was professor of music at Sonoma State University, and has also worked as a producer and director for WGBH-TV in Boston, where he received an Emmy nomination for the National Educational Television series "A Roomful of Music."

Later this season...

On May 22, "Fremont Opera Goes Bollywood" honors Fremont council member Anu Natarajan in an extravagant evening of Indian food, opera and Indian music, live and silent auctions followed by a grand Bollywood-style show.

On August 27 and 29, David Sloss conducts the Fremont Symphony in Fremont Opera's third production, Verdi's "La Traviata", at the Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts at Ohlone College. Jonathon Field returns as stage director.

Fremont Opera's "Romance in Opera"
Sunday, February 14
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Mission Coffee Roasting Company
151 Washington Blvd., Fremont

Tickets/info: (510) 474-1004

Admission: $35 per person (includes food and beverage)
Open seating limited to 100 guests.
Theater and table seating available; please arrive early for a table.

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