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Dayton Opera Delivers a Powerful Punch When It Presents Gian Carlo Menotti’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Opera The Consul This October



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

DAYTON, OH (September 21, 2017) – On Friday, October 20, 2017 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Thomas Bankston, will present Gian Carlo Menotti’s gripping, Pulitzer Prize–winning opera The Consul. 

The Consul delivers a punch as powerful and timely as its subject matter—the struggle for freedom against oppression and the maddening nature of unrelenting bureaucracy. Set in a large central European city in the present, Gian Carlo Menotti’s first full-length opera played Broadway for eight months, winning both the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Music and the 1950 New York Drama Critics' Circle award for Best Musical. 

Political dissident John Sorel is on the run from the secret police. His wife, Magda, and his mother conceal him. The police arrive to search, but their efforts are in vain. John plans his escape and tells Magda to apply for a visa to leave the country. He will wait at the border until he knows his family is safe.

The emotional high point of the opera comes when Magda, thwarted in her quest for a visa, addresses the Consul’s indifferent secretary in “To this we’ve come,” a stirring lament over the world’s inhumanity to the suffering. Incensed at her request to fill out more forms, Magda explodes with “I ask you for help, and all you give me is papers! Papers!” Her thrilling conclusion warns tyrants and petty bureaucrats alike: “Oh, the day will come . . . when our hearts aflame will burn your paper chains!”

Returning to Dayton Opera for an unprecedented fourteenth time to direct the gripping modern opera is the one and only Gary Briggle. Gary was most recently in Dayton a year ago to direct Leoncavallo’s tragic I Pagliacci. Prior to then, he has tackled some of Dayton Opera’s most challenging productions, including the unique presentation of Stella Sung’s The Book Collector paired with Carl Orff’s impeccable Carmina Burana in May 2016, as well as the groundbreaking Dayton premiere of Dead Man Walking in February 2015. His other past performances, either on stage or at the directing helm, include Dayton Opera productions of Candide, The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S Pinafore, The Barber of Seville, Porgy and Bess, The Tragedy of Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, and, perhaps most memorably, his engagement in Hansel and Gretel in 2014, where Briggle directed and performed the menacing, albeit convincing, role of The Witch.  

Conducting the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for this production of The Consul is Patrick Reynolds. Now in his 20th season with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Patrick Reynolds is a frequent presence on the DPO podium, conducting SuperPops, Rock, Educational and Family concerts. In recent seasons, he has conducted Dayton Opera productions of Verdi’s La Traviata, Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. In addition, Patrick celebrates his 18th season as conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, an organization selected from the region’s finest high school musicians. Founded in 1937, the DPYO is one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished youth orchestra programs, this season celebrating its 80th anniversary.

For the lead role of Magda Sorel, soprano Kara Shay Thomson returns to Dayton Opera, having sung the lead role in the 2013 production of Tosca. The New York Times praises Kara’s presence and vocal prowess with the following recent review: “From the first phrases sung by Kara Shay Thomson, a compelling American soprano with a plush, vibrant, powerful voice, you do not know whether to pity or fear her.” Dayton Opera welcomes Kara Shay Thomson back to the Mead Theater stage with open arms. After this role as Magda Sorel, Kara Shay will return once again to Dayton Opera later in the 2017–2018 season for another title role performance, this time in the May 2018 production of Turandot.  

Making her Dayton Opera debut in this production in the impassioned role of The Mother is mezzo-soprano Cindy Sadler. Dayton Opera welcomes this new artist who has been heralded for her rich, satiny voice as much as for her impeccable characterizations.

Returning to Dayton Opera in other pivotal roles in this moving drama are some of Dayton Opera’s favorite artists, including baritone Tyler Alessi as John Sorel, mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakas as The Secretary, bass-baritone Kenneth Shaw as The Secret Police Agent, tenor Robert Norman as The Magician, bass-baritone Thomas Hammons as Mr. Kofner, and baritone Alexander Harper as Assan.  Dayton Opera also welcomes back three local Dayton-area artists: soprano Andrea Chenoweth as The Foreign Woman, soprano Minnita Daniel-Cox as Anna Gomez, and mezzo-soprano Ryu-Kyung Kim as Vera Boronel.  

For the fifth year in a row, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is pleased to partner with the University of Dayton and its unique and innovative Arts Immersion initiative. All first-year students at the University of Dayton enrolled in a Humanities Commons course will attend Sunday’s performance of The Consul as their Arts Immersion Experience for the 2017–2018 academic year. To further enhance learning and engage students, University faculty teaching Humanities Commons courses will incorporate aspects of the performance through the lens of their disciplines and into their courses.

Dayton Opera is also thrilled to partner with several Dayton organizations in an engaging initiative called Building Peace Through the Arts 2017, which will offer artistic experiences throughout the months of September and October aimed at helping us all finds ways to move a little closer to creating a just and sustainable society. This initiative will culminate with the October presentations of The Consul by Dayton Opera. Look for details, including partnering organizations and dates and times of events, on our website at www.daytonperformingarts.org.

Want to learn even more about The Consul? Come one hour prior to both performances to hear pre-performance talks presented by UD Music Professor Dr. Sam Dorf inside the Mead Theatre.

Tickets for The Consul 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, or how to subscribe to the 2017-2018 The Great Ones 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. In 2013, The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was thrilled 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. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is the proud recipient of a 2017-2018 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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