ARIODANTE – Cross-Dressing Goes Baroque – at SAN FRANCISCO OPERA

Envy, Greed, Lust, Gender Bending – It’s all there!

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

SUSAN GRAHAM, a Merola Opera Program alumna, returns to San Francisco Opera in the virtuosic title role of George Frideric Handel’s rediscovered tour de force, ARIODANTE. A premiere for SAN FRANCISCO OPERA, this early 18th Century musical tale of jealousy, betrayal and ultimate triumph is conducted by Houston Grand Opera Music Director Patrick Summers.

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ARIODANTE (1735), By George Frideric Handel. Production photos by Terrence McCarthy.

Joining Ms Graham as “Ariodante” (an ultimate trouser-role) is soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, starring as the hero’s betrothed, “Ginevra”. Making her Company debut as Ginevra’s attendant “Dalinda” – soprano Veronica Cangemi. A native of Mendoza, Argentina, this season will find her in Paris as “Fiordiligi” (Così fan tutte), in Japan and Buenos Aires as “Micaëla” (Carmen), and at the Vienna State Opera as “Morgana” in a new production of ALCINA.

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RUTH ANN SWENSON, Soprano – Still looking good, as Ginevra, Princess of Scotland, betrothed to Ariodante.

Contralto Sonia Prina marks her United States opera debut as the scheming Duke of Albany, “Polinesso”. 273 years ago, the role was done by a fashionable castrato. Ms Prina is featured in DVD recordings of ASCANIO IN ALBA (Salzburg Festival) and LA PIETRA DEL PARAGONE (Théâtre du Châtelet).

The cast also features the Company debut of tenor Richard Croft as “Lurcanio”. This spring Mr. Croft made a triumphant return to the Metropolitan Opera as “Gandhi” in the new production of Philip Glass’s SATYAGRAHA. On DVD, he appears in the title role of Mozart’s MITRIDATE, RE DI PONTO, the Recorded at the Salzburg Festival, it features Marc Minkowski and LES MUSICIENS DU LOUVRE.

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RICHARD CROFT – as Lurcanio, Ariodante’s brother, SONIA PRINA, Contralto – as Polinesso, Duke of Albany, rival of Ariodante.

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VERONICA CANGEMI, Soprano – as Dalinda, Lady-in-waiting to Ginerva, in love with Polinesso.

As the “King of Scotland”, bass-baritone Eric Owens. He has recorded the MOZART REQUIEM with Donald Runnicles leading the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and takes on the role of “Aristotle Onassis” in the Houston Grand Opera recording of JACKIE O.

Andrew Bidlack, a first year Adler Fellow, appears in the tenor role of “Odoardo”. A 2007 Merola Opera Program participant, last summer Mr. Bidlack created the role of “Charles Carter” in the world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri’s THE HOTEL CASABLANCA. Mr. Bidlack will appear in the 2008-09 San Francisco Opera productions of Boris Godunov and Die Tote Stadt.

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ANDREW BIDLACK, Tenor – (left) as Odoardo, favorito of the King of Scotland, ERIC OWENS, Bass

This Dallas Opera production features designs by John Conklin and the stage direction of renowned baroque and classical opera director John Copley, whose work was last seen here in The Marriage of Figaro during the summer of 2006.

The San Francisco Opera Medal, the highest honor awarded by the Company to an artistic professional, will be presented to Ruth Ann Swenson on stage at the War Memorial Opera House following the final performance of Ariodante, July 6th. Ruth Ann Swenson made her professional debut with San Francisco Opera 25 years ago in June 1983 as Despina in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. An alumna of the Merola Opera Program (1981, 1982) and San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship (1983, 1984), she has returned to the Company in more than a dozen major roles.

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SUSAN GRAHAM, Mezzo-Soprano – as Ariodante, a vassal prince.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, each performance of Ariodante will last approximately three hours and 30 minutes and are scheduled for June 24th at 8:00, 27th at 8:00, July 1st at 7:30, and the July 6th matinee at 2:00. All performances will feature an Opera Talk by British conductor and music scholar Peter Susskind 55 minutes prior to curtain. Opera Talks are presented free of charge to patrons with tickets for the corresponding performance.

Classical 102.1 KDFC will broadcast a live recording of this production on Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 at 8:00 pm.

To purchase tickets on-line:
Tuesday, June 24th, 8:00 pm
Friday, June 27th, 8:00 pm
Tuesday, July 1st, 7:30 pm
Sunday, July 6th, 2:00 pm

Visit Seán on YouTube
Lorena Feijóo – A Look at “Giselle” with Seán Martinfield
SAMSON & DELILAH – Meet Seán Martinfield

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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