Finger Lakes Opera Unveils 2023 Summer Season

06/15/2023

Finger Lakes Opera (FLO) has unveiled its 2023 Summer Season, which includes a sneak peek of a newly commissioned opera by composer B.E. Boykin and the company’s return to indoor mainstage production with two performances of Verdi’s Aida. Tickets to all FLO’s 2023 Summer Festival  events can be purchased online at www.fingerlakesopera.org or over the phone by calling 585-450-3880. 

Aida will be performed at RBTL’s Auditorium Theatre on Friday, August 11 at 7 PM and Sunday, August 13 at 2 PM. The titular role will be performed by Elena O’Connor, a native of Rochester, with artistic director Gerard Floriano conducting the FLO orchestra. Stephanie Havey returns to FLO as stage director.

“When considering what opera to mount in 2023, knowing that FLO hasn’t produced an indoor, mainstage opera since 2019, the company wanted to make a splash,” Floriano states. “Verdi’s Aida, packed with grand choruses, complex ensembles, elaborate sets, and magnificent dance sequences, fits that bill. What’s more, this production has allowed FLO to collaborate with two amazing, Rochester-area arts organizations.” 

The Rochester Oratorio Society is providing singers from its roster to sing in the Aida chorus, and the pivotal dance sequence that opens Scene 2 of Act II has been choreographed by Norwood “PJ” Pennewell and will be performed by six Garth Fagan Dance artists. This collaboration has been partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Tickets to Aida are on sale ($23-85) and can be purchased in person at RBTL, Monday through Friday, 10 AM - 5 PM, and Saturdays, 10 AM - 2 PM, by visiting Ticketmaster, or calling 585-450-3880.

FLO’s 2023 Summer Festival kicks off on Thursday, July 20, with Summer Scenes. FLO’s 2023 Young Artists, 10 singers selected from an applicant pool of 477, will perform scenes from the Italian operas

La bohème, Rigoletto, Falstaff, and more onstage at Fort Hill Performing Arts Center. Italian food and drink will be part of the package. Advance tickets are $50 and can be purchased here or by calling 585-450-3880.

On Sunday, July 23, audience members will get the first glimpse of a new, one-act opera by B.E. Boykin with libretto by Jarrod Lee. Two Corners explores the evolving and enduring friendship of a Black woman, Florine, and a white woman, Sarah, during the unrest of the Civil Rights movement. Told through a series of flashbacks, Florine and Sarah reflect on their different perspectives on race, friendship, and the status quo. Kearstin Piper Brown, a Rochester-based artist quickly gaining national attention for her work in traditional and contemporary opera, will sing the lead role of Florine. Kimille Howard will serve as the project’s stage director,  Cori Ellison as dramaturg, and Floriano as music director.  Following the workshop performance at the Theater at Innovation Square, audience members will enjoy a short reception and then take part in a moderated panel discussion. Tickets are free; registration is required here.

FLO’s remaining programs will be happy-hour events, the first of which is called Opera & Ale, scheduled for Tuesday, July 25, from 5:30 - 7:00 PM at Heroes Brewery. FLO’s young artists will treat those in attendance with party-themed opera arias, while Heroes unveils a new FLO label. Suggested donation of $10 at the door. 

Out Loud at the MAG is scheduled for Wednesday, July 26 from 5:00 - 7:00 PM in the Vanden Brul Pavilion in the Memorial Art Gallery. This program includes food and drink from Brown Hound Catering. FLO’s 2023 Young Artists will treat the crowd to popular arias throughout the event. Advance tickets are $35 and can be purchased on FLO’s website.

Tickets to all Finger Lakes Opera’s 2023 Summer Festival events can be purchased online at www.fingerlakesopera.org or over the phone by calling (585) 450-3880. 

 

About the 2023 summer, mainstage stars - Soprano Kearstin Piper Brown just finished appearing in the world premiere of The Shining, at Opera Parallele (CA), where she sang the lead role of Wendy Torrance. Brown, who lives in Rochester, also made debuts this season with Lyric Opera of Chicago (Proximity), Santa Fe Opera (This Little Light of Mine), at Carnegie Hall, and on PBS Great Performances in Lynn Nottage and Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera Intimate Apparel at the Lincoln Center Theater. Brown has been cast in the lead role of Florine in Boykin’s newly commissioned one-act opera Two Corners.

Soprano Elena O’Connor grew up in Penfield. She made her European debut in 2017 with the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden in the title role of Tosca. The following month she was called as a last-minute cover for the title role in Aida at the Chorégies d'Orange Festival and that August, she appeared in both performances of Paul-Émile Fourny's production on the stage of Orange's 7,300-seat ancient Roman theater led by Paolo Arrivabeni. O’Connor has been seen on FLO stages in 2018, when she sang the lead in Die Fledermaus and again in 2022, when she was one of four mainstage stars who performed in FLO’s 10-year anniversary concert. O’Connor will sing the lead role in Aida.

Mezzo-soprano Deborah Nansteel made her debut with The Metropolitan Opera as Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor, her debut with the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Gertrude in Roméo et Juliette, her Carnegie Hall debut in Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and her New York Philharmonic debut alongside Eric Owens in In Their Footsteps: Great African American Singers and Their Legacy. Nansteel last appeared with FLO in 2022, when she sang with O’Connor, and baritone Michael Preacely in FLO’s 10-year anniversary concert. She will sing the role of Amneris in FLO’s production of Aida.

American Baritone Michael Preacely is a rising star on the operatic stage and is also known for a versatile singing ability and style that allow him to cross between genres from classical repertoire to pop, contemporary, and Broadway. He has received critical acclaim for many of his performances, including Phantom in Phantom of the Opera, Scarpia in Tosca, Ford in Falstaff, Marcello in La bohème, the High Priest in Samson and Delilah, and Porgy and Jake in Porgy and Bess. Preacely last appeared with FLO in the 10-year anniversary concert and will sing the role of Aida’s father, King Amonasro.

Upcoming engagements for bass-baritone Joseph Barron include debuts with the Dallas Opera and the Atlanta Opera as Donner in Das Rheingold, returning to the Metropolitan Opera to cover Swallow in Peter Grimes and Monterone in Rigoletto, and returning to Charlottesville Opera as Baron Zeta in The Merry Widow. Barron appeared with FLO in the 2021 production of The Barber of Seville and will sing the role of Ramfis in this summer’s Aida.

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