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Comedic Capers and Virtuosic Voices Take Center Stage at the Schuster When Dayton Opera Presents Mozart’s Turkish Delight, The Abduction from the Seraglio



CONTACT: ANGELA WHITEHEAD
Communications & Media Manager 
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance 
Phone 937-224-3521 x1138 

DAYTON, OH (January 27, 2017) – On Friday, February 17 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 19 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the artistic direction of Thomas Bankston, will present Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s comic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio. This is a first-time production of this opera for the company, and it will feature an exciting newly designed set making its debut on the stage of the Mead Theatre. 

Signature Sponsor for this performance and provider of support of the new set design and construction is the Harry A. Toulmin, Jr. and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund of The Dayton Foundation. Leadership Sponsors are Dr. Edward and Margaret Hughes/First Dayton CyberKnife and the Bill and Jackie Lockwood Family Foundation. Associate Sponsor is Marriott University of Dayton.  Orchestra Music Provider is The Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation and Surtitles are Provided by the Opera Guild of Dayton..

Mozart first conquered Vienna with his comedic opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, which features rollicking Turkish-flavored music, virtuosic solo singing, stupendous duets and ensembles, and the exotic setting of a Turkish harem. A freewheeling tale of two women purchased from pirates by the Pasha Selim and their eventual rescue by their lovers, the work’s style is strongly similar to that of The Magic Flute, with even more death-defyingly difficult acrobatic singing required by all five of its principal vocal roles.

Constanze defies all attempts at seduction by the Pasha and sings one of the most difficult high-flying arias of the soprano repertoire, “Martern aller Arten” (“Tortures of all kinds”) in resisting his offer to take her into his harem. Blonde, her pert English maid, likewise rejects Osmin, whose virtuosic runs and low notes mark the deep end of Mozart’s operatic output.

With the help of their Spanish lovers, Belmonte and his servant Pedrillo, the imprisoned women nearly make their escape, aided by two ladders and copious amounts of spiked wine. They are captured nevertheless. Fortunately, Pasha Selim shows his magnanimity, and the opera jubilantly concludes in a burst of dazzling high spirits as the lovers praise their selfless benefactor and prepare to set sail. It’s a sparkling trip you’ll be glad you made! 

The opera will be sung in German with English surtitles, and will feature new spoken English dialogue adapted and specially created for this production by Andrea Fellows Walters.  Ms. Walters, Director of Education and Community Programs at Santa Fe Opera, also created English dialogue for Dayton Opera’s most recent production of The Magic Flute.  
Making her Dayton Opera debut in this performance as lead soprano Constanze is Amanda Woodbury.  Her 2015 performance in this very role with the Des Moines Metro Opera earned the following praise: “Her soprano is strong and elastic, precisely suited for the back-to-back arias that have as many punishing runs as anything Mozart wrote.” (Des Moines Register). Woodbury comes to Dayton fresh from a recent run as Juliette in the new production of Roméo et Juliette with the Metropolitan Opera, and Dayton is lucky to have her! Having appeared with opera companies throughout the U.S., she is also a recent second-place winner of Plácido Domingo's prestigious Operalia competition and recipient of a Career Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation.

Also making his Dayton Opera debut in the role of Belmonte is tenor Tyler Nelson. As one of America’s most promising young tenors, Nelson is already enjoying success in a wide variety of concert repertoire, and he has also flourished in both dramatic and comedic roles with New Orleans Opera, Utah Lyric Opera, North Carolina Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Naples, and Chicago Opera Theatre.  Of his work at the 2015 Castleton Festival, DCTheaterscene.com proclaimed, “his vocal agility is matched by an astounding and hysterically funny physical inventiveness,” and Opera News agreed, stating that he certainly “sang up a storm”!

Tenor Robert Norman returns to Dayton for his third appearance with Dayton Opera, having sung the role of Goro in the 2015 production of Madame Butterfly and most recently, the role of Beppe in this past October’s production of I Pagliacci.  Norman will perform the role of Pedrillo, Blonde’s fiancé and the mastermind of the escape plan from the Pasha.  Of his recent performance in this very role, Joshua Kosman of San Francisco Chronicle noted, “Tenor Robert Norman…brought nimble vocal clarity to the part." 


Dayton Opera is pleased to welcome to the main stage for this production one of the Dayton Opera 2016–2017 Artists-in-Residence. Soprano Chelsea Friedlander kicks off her Artist-in-Residence stay with a bang in the dutiful role of Blonde. A New Jersey native, Friedlander received her Bachelor of Music from Cleveland Institute of Music and her Masters from Manhattan School of Music.  Friedlander’s Dayton debut was this past December as the soprano soloist with Dayton Philharmonic in this season’s Messiah, and she will be performing the role of Frasquita this May in Dayton Opera’s upcoming production of Bizet’s beloved Carmen.
 
In the role of Osmin, Dayton Opera welcomes back bass-baritone Jeremy Galyon for his second appearance with the company. In 2014, Galyon first took the stage with Dayton Opera in the role of Sarastro in Mozart’s mystical The Magic Flute. In a production of Abduction from the Seraglio it was said about Galyon, “His portrayal of Osmin, the overseer of the harem, was at once stern, gruff, dim, and wickedly funny. His voice is full, resonant, and clear from top to bottom, without a hint of the muddiness that can sometimes plague basses. He presented finely crafted and musically sensitive arias, and stole every scene in which he appeared.” (San Francisco Classical Voice)
Rounding out this colorful cast of characters is Dayton’s very own Jamie Cordes, actor and singer with The Human Race Theatre Company.  Cordes will perform the speaking role of the Pasha Selim, ruler of the exotic Turkish harem.  An experienced performer on stage in the Dayton region, Cordes considers the most interesting aspect of his career the guiding and mentoring he does both on stage as performer and off stage as educator of the up-and-coming generation of singers and theatre artists with whom he works on a daily basis.  We are thrilled to have Cordes on stage for his fourth appearance with Dayton Opera.

Dayton Opera welcomes the return of stage director Kathleen Clawson for a tenth time to her “home away from home” to direct this Mozart 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, The Magic Flute, and last season’s Otello. When not in Dayton or visiting other opera companies across the country, Kathleen devotes all of her time in her actual home of New Mexico as professor at the University of New Mexico, where she heads the degree program in Musical Theatre, and as Assistant Director of the Apprentice Program for Singers at Santa Fe Opera.

On the podium to lead the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra is guest conductor Glenn Lewis, making his inaugural visit to Dayton Opera.  Lewis has a distinguished career as conductor, piano soloist, vocal coach, and collaborative pianist. He was a pianist and conductor in the opera houses of Cologne and Düsseldorf, Germany, for 11 years before returning to the United States to accept the position as Director of Music with Pittsburgh Opera.  Lewis has worked with some of the top opera companies in the world, including the Washington National Opera, the Kennedy Center, Vancouver Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera.  He is a regular on staff at the Santa Fe Opera.

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. Powell has been Dayton Opera Chorus Master since 1991, and he most recently conducted Dayton Opera’s 2013–2014 production of Hansel and Gretel.  He has also conducted for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Des Moines Metro Opera, Ohio Light Opera, San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theatre and locally for The Human Race Theatre Company and Wright State University. 

For the first time in decades, Dayton Opera has commissioned the design and construction of a brand-new set for this production, to be housed by Dayton Opera for future performances and for possible rental to other opera companies.  Pam Lavarnway, Professor of Theatre and Coordinator of the Theatre Design Technology program at Wright State University, has designed the set for this three-act opera with the exotic background of a Turkish palace and garden.  Her designs will come to life through construction overseen by Zoot Theatre Artistic Director Tristan Cupp.  Resident lighting designer John Rensel will light this production, which will be the 31st Dayton Opera production to which he has brought his skill and artistry.

Want to learn even more about the beauty of The Abduction from the Seraglio? 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 The Abduction from the Seraglio range from $28 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 for any other upcoming performances of Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, or Dayton Philharmonic, 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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