FESTIVAL OPERA’S A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Opens Saturday, August 9th

Benjamin Britten’s treatment of William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Festival Opera’s production of Britten’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM will feature countertenor William Sauerland as Oberon, soprano Ani Maldjian as Tytania, Kurt Krikorian as Puck (spoken), bass Kirk Eichelberger as Bottom, baritone Igor Vieira as Theseus, mezzo-soprano Lauren Groff as Hippolyta, tenor Jorge Garza as Lysander, baritone Nikolas Nackley (Demetrius), mezzo-soprano Jessica Mariko Deardorff as Hermia, and soprano Stacey Cornell as Helena. To order tickets on-line: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

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Festival Opera presents Benjamin Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, with Ani Maldjian as Tytania

“There are so few countertenors today that this will be a rare opportunity to see one in performance,” says Helen Sheaff, executive director of Festival Opera, about the type of male vocalist who can sing in the range of a contralto, mezzo-soprano or soprano. “And Britten’s opera is one of the most famous countertenor roles, but most companies are limited to using a contralto or female soprano. So this will be a treat for Bay Area opera lovers.”

Countertenor William Sauerland has performed in many of the world’s finest concert halls including Vienna’s Musikverein, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The recipient of a Marshall Scholarship, he is currently working on a Masters of Music at the Royal College of Music in London.

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KURT KRIKORIAN (Puck), WILLIAM SAUERLAND (Oberon), KIRK EICHELBERGER (Bottom)

Ani Maldjian, as Tytania, is considered one of the country’s fast-rising sopranos. A former two-time San Francisco Opera Merola Program participant, Ms Maldjian was praised for her performance in Russian composer Grigori Frid’s one-woman opera, The Diary of Anne Frank, at Long Beach Opera. Maldjian was the Western Regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2005, and a national finalist in 2006. For the last two years she has participated in Seattle Opera’s Young Artist program.

Kirk Eichelberger – last seen as “Ferrando” in Festival Opera’s production of Il Trovatore in July – made his Metropolitan Opera debut in The Gambler on March 27. A 1999 national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, his appearances with Festival Opera include the West Coast premiere of Rorem’s Our Town (Dr. Gibbs) and Don Giovanni, (Leporello) – both directed by Michael Morgan.

Kurt Krikorian, as Puck, appeared in San Francisco Opera’s Tristan und Isolde and for Festival Opera in its 2006 production of Tosca. A world finalist of the 1995 Luciano Pavarotti Voice Competition, Igor Vieira previously appeared with Festival Opera in 2007, and has sung with the Teatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, the Amazonian Opera Festival, The Belém Opera Festival, and Opera du Villecroze.

Lauren Groff (Hippolyta) is completing her Master’s degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She also serves as the alto section leader of the SAN FRANCISCO CONCERT CHORALE and cantor at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

Jorge Garza (Lysander) is a former participant in the Merola Opera Program. He apprenticed at the Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Wolftrap. He then teamed with Los Angeles Opera where he became a Young Artist and then mainstage performer.

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JORGE GARZA (Lysander), JESSICA MARIKO DEARDORFF (Hermia), IGOR VIEIRA (Theseus)

A native of Piedmont, Nikolas Nackley earned his Masters of Music degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to international appearances, Mr. Nackley is a familiar soloist to music lovers throughout California and New England.

Jessica Mariko Deardorff (Hermia) earned her BA from the University of Pacific Conservatory of Music and MA from the University of Arizona. She made her debut at Opera San José as the “Second Lady” in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Ms. Deardorff will appear as “Inez” in Festival Opera’s coming production of Il Trovatore.

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LAUREN GROFF (Hippolyta), NIKOLAS NACKLEY (Demetrius), STACEY CORNELL (Helena)

Michael Morgan made his debut as an operatic stage director with Festival Opera’s 2006 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Currently in his 18th year as music director of Oakland East Bay Symphony, Morgan has served as music director of Festival Opera since 1996 and artistic director since 2001. He also serves as artistic director of the Oakland Youth Orchestra and music director of the Sacramento Philharmonic. His operatic debut as a conductor came in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera with Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio.

Festival Opera under executive director Helen Sheaff and artistic director Michael Morgan has emerged as the third-largest opera company in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the top three professional arts companies based in Walnut Creek. Founded in 1991, the non-profit organization has become a showcase for providing young, emerging artists – many of them San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and Merola Opera Program participants – with principal roles in professional productions. Festival Opera’s season consists of two full productions presented each July and August. The company provides a free annual outdoor concert, complimentary lectures on opera throughout the community and before each performance, and internship opportunities for college and high school students. For more information, visit: FESTIVAL OPERA

Michael Morgan will conduct each of the four performances of Benjamin Britten’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Set designs are by Peter Crompton and costume designs by Susanna Douthit.

For more ticket information:
SATURDAY, August 9th, at 8:00 pm
TUESDAY, August 12th, at 8:00 pm
FRIDAY, August 15th at 8:00 pm
SUNDAY (matinee), August 17th at 2:00 pm

All performances will take place at the LESHER CENTER FOR THE ARTS, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA.

Recommended recording:
CD – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. Opera by Benjamin Britten. Cast includes Alfred Deller, David Kelly Elizabeth Harwood, Heather Harper.

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN 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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