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The Passions of Love and Jealousy Abound in Dayton Opera’s Premiere Production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello

In Tribute to the 400th Year Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s Death

Tenor Scott Piper Makes His American Debut in the Role of Otello


CONTACT: ANGELA WHITEHEAD
Communications & Media Manager

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Phone 937-224-3521 x1138
awhitehead@daytonperformingarts.org 

DAYTON, OH (January 26, 2016) – On Friday, February 26 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 28 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the artistic direction of Thomas Bankston, will present Giuseppe Verdi’s penultimate opera, Otello. Otello will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.  Leadership Sponsors for this production are Emerson Climate Technologies and Bill and Jackie Lockwood.  Associate Sponsors are Dayton Marriott and 10 Wilmington Place.

“What a thrill it is to be presenting Dayton Opera’s first-ever production of this amazing masterpiece, particularly in the 400th anniversary year of the death of the great playwright William Shakespeare,” said Bankston. “And it is equally a thrill to celebrate the American debut of Dayton Opera favorite tenor Scott Piper in the demanding title role.”

At the height of his creative genius, Italian Giuseppe Verdi had retired after the huge success of his 1871 Aida. It took a full decade for his publisher, Ricordi, to lure Verdi from his rest with a libretto drawn from Shakespeare that was so powerful he could not resist. The result of Boito’s recasting of Shakespeare’s drama set to Verdi’s music is Otello, which has been hailed as a masterpiece ever since Verdi took twenty curtain calls at its premiere.

Otello turns on three important characters - the forceful Otello, his beautiful wife Desdemona, and his crafty, unscrupulous rival Iago. The orchestra is also a key player in the drama, and the orchestral writing reveals Verdi’s growth in the silent decade following Aida. Opening with a dramatic storm in the orchestra that foreshadows what is to follow, Otello sweeps along as the evil Iago gradually hatches his plot to make Otello unjustly fear that his beloved Desdemona is betraying him.

The dark mood of the opening turns despairing and sinister in the final act as Desdemona sings farewell to her confidante and prepares herself for what is to come with prayer. Iago’s dastardly manipulations are fulfilled when Otello’s murderous rage erupts with fatal results for Desdemona. Stricken with remorse when he learns of her innocence, Otello dies by his own hand, bringing the opera to a truly Shakespearian close.

Dayton Opera is thrilled to have tenor Scott Piper back to Dayton Opera for his eighth appearance, this time in the “Mount Olympus of tenor roles,” Otello.  Piper has recently debuted the role of Otello to critical acclaim in Germany at the Hessian State Opera in Wiesbaden, and Dayton Opera’s production of Otello will mark his debut of this challenging and defining role in the United States.  Piper has taken the stage with Dayton Opera in past performances of Lucia di Lammermoor in 1999, La Traviata in 2000, Aida in 2003, Tosca in 2005, The Elixir of Love in 2009, in the title role of Faust in 2009, and as a guest vocalist in Dayton Opera’s 50th anniversary gala celebration in 2011.  He has been hailed by critics for his mastery of vocal colors, lauded by conductors for his keen sense of musical phrasing, and praised by audiences for his heartfelt and penetrating performances.

For the role of Desdemona, Dayton Opera welcomes to the stage soprano Danielle Pastin, who will be making her Dayton Opera debut.  Quoted as having “a lovely demeanor and irresistible creamy timbre” by Opera News, fast-rising young soprano Pastin is quickly gaining attention from opera houses around the country.  Pastin has performed with opera companies from coast to coast, including Nashville Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Naples, Syracuse Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Central City Opera, Pensacola Opera, Arizona Opera and roles with the famed Metropolitan Opera in New York. 

Baritone Grant Youngblood returns to Dayton Opera in the role of the duplicitous and dastardly Iago. Youngblood has been hailed as a tall, dashing baritone “with a robust sound with ringing top notes” and praised for his “smooth lyric baritone voice, bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.”  His past roles with Dayton Opera include the roles of Figaro in in the 2001 production of The Barber of Seville, Scarpia in the 2004 production of Tosca, Amonasro in the 2014 production of Aida, and a guest soloist in Dayton Opera’s 2014 Season Opening Spectacular, Russian Panorama.

Tenor Stephen Carroll makes his Dayton debut in the role of Otello’s honorable captain Cassio.  However, this appearance is not his first time working with Dayton Opera.  This past May, Carroll workshopped the role of Franz Bierman in Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s Music Alive composer-in-residence Stella Sung’s new opera The Book Collector, which will make its world premiere with Dayton Opera this coming May 2016.  A recent graduate with an artist diploma from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he was a member of the prestigious 2015 Glimmerglass Opera Young Artist Program.

Two performers return to Dayton Opera to round out the cast of Otello.  Bass Adam Fry returns as Lodovico, having recently performed the role of The Bonze in Madame Butterfly this past November.  Errik Hood, baritone, also returns to Dayton Opera in the role of Montano.  Hood most recently performed with Dayton Opera in the acclaimed 2014 production of Dead Man Walking.

Three of Dayton Opera’s 2015–2016 Artists-in-Residence will also be appearing in this production.  Mezzo-soprano Melisa Bonetti will be making her Dayton Opera main stage debut as Emilia, wife of antagonist Iago and handmaid to the lovely Desdemona.  Tenor Zachary Devin will also be making his Dayton Opera debut in the role of Roderico.  Baritone Andrew Pardini will perform the role of the Herald, having just recently debuted on the Schuster Center stage as Yamadori in Madame Butterfly this past November.

Dayton Opera welcomes the return of stage director Kathleen Clawson for a ninth time to her “home away from home” to direct this Verdi masterpiece.  Clawson is no stranger to Dayton audiences, having appeared three times as a guest soloist with Dayton Philharmonic.  She has been directing operas with Dayton Opera since 2009, including The Elixir of Love, La Traviata, Faust, Fidelio, La bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Aida, and last season’s The Magic Flute.

The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra provides the gorgeous score to Verdi’s classic, under the baton of the accomplished Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman. He has had many acclaimed appearances on the podium of Dayton Opera, the most recent being last season’s The Pearl Fishers. The ever-versatile Dayton Opera Chorus, under the direction and leadership of Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell, take to the stage again to add their choral expertise.

Love may be the most powerful force in the world, but jealousy exerts a dark power all its own. For those who like passion and drama, Otello is a must-see!

Want to learn even more about the beauty of Otello? Come one hour prior to both performances to hear pre-performance talks presented by UD Music Professor Dr. Sam Dorf.  Delicious “Opera bites” are also available in the Wintergarden before the performance and at the first intermission.

Tickets for Otello range from $38 to $94 and are available at www.daytonperformingarts.org or by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. For more information on tickets, or how to subscribe to the 2015-2016 Ascend Season, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.

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About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.  The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is proud to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year "Music Alive" grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras.
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