Opera in the State of New Jersey has something to shout about: a grass-roots company that has persevered through tough economic times to reach its silver milestone. Boheme Opera NJ adds an exciting venue to its season with Richardson Auditorium at Alexander Hall on the campus of Princeton University. On Saturday, October 26, at 8 p.m., the company will present an evening of vocal fireworks in Verdi’s 200th Birthday Concert. If you have never heard live performances of great voices with orchestra in a gorgeous venue with optimal acoustics, you should treat yourself to an evening of the amazing music of Giuseppe Verdi at Richardson.
Born Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi on October 10, 1813, in Le Roncole, he was one of the great composers of Italian opera. Verdi’s work was already very popular during his lifetime and remains so today. His music served the audience of the mass public rather than that of the musical elite. His fast-paced works deal with emotional extremes and the music emphasizes the dramatic situation. It is the expression of the melodies given to the singers that represents the key expressive spirit of Verdi’s work.
After a long life of productive musical output, Verdi died on January 27, 1901, of a stroke in Milan after completion of his Casa di Riposo, a retirement villa for poor artists. His funeral was very well attended. A quarter of a million mourners were present to show their respects to one of the most important figures in Italian music.
To commemorate the great maestro’s 200th birthday, Boheme has assembled four artists who have sung internationally. Accompanied by the Boheme Opera Orchestra with Joseph Pucciatti on the podium, they will sing arias, duets, and ensembles from Aida, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Otello, La Forza del Destino, Don Carlo and La Traviata.
Soprano Valerie Bernhardt made her debut last season with Anchorage Opera in the world premiere of Victoria Bond’s opera, Mrs. President. Carrying a long list of leading dramatic roles, she recently sang the role of Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Die Walkure in concert with New York Lyric Opera Theater.
Since immigrating to the United States in 2002, Ukrainian-American mezzo-soprano Galina Ivannikova has added several leading roles to her extensive repertoire, including Amneris in Verdi’s Aida, Nicklauss/Muse in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffman, and Prince Orlovsky in Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, among others.
Tenor Benjamin Warschawski has sung many leading roles – Alfredo, Edgardo, The Duke of Mantua, Don Jose, and Manrico, among others. He has sung cantorial concerts in New York, Miami, Montreal, and Toronto, and recitals in Baltimore, Atlanta, Strasbourg, Zurich, and Basel (Switzerland).
Baritone Constantinos Yiannoudes boasts an extensive repertoire that includes the title roles of Rigoletto, Macbeth, Don Giovanni, and Il Barbiere di Siviglia, as well as Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Scarpia in Tosca, and others. Born in Limassol, Cyprus, Greece, Mr. Yiannoudes recently sang the role of Jago in Otello with the Slovak National Theatre.
Major support for Boheme Opera NJ programs is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts – Department of State, the Boheme Opera Guild Inc., and Stark & Stark Attorneys At Law.
Verdi’s 200th Birthday Concert, Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. Saturday, October 26, 8 p.m. www.bohemeopera.com, 609-258-9220, or Princeton’s Frist Campus Center Box Office, 62 County Road 526, near the corner of Washington and Faculty roads in Princeton.
Other Boheme Opera events celebrating 25 years include its Silver Season Gala on Saturday, November 23, a free holiday concert at Grounds For Sculpture on Friday, December 13, a live WWFM Broadcast of Boheme’s Reunion Operathon on Sunday, January 26, also at GFS, and finally, a fully-staged production of Verdi’s La Traviata at Kendall Main Stage Theatre, the College of New Jersey.
For details on these events, as well as BONJ’s new outreach schedule, visit www.bohemeopera.com.