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Dayton Opera Takes a Madcap Romp through a Familiar Children’s Story with La Cenerentola, or Cinderella as We All Know Her Best

DAYTON, OH (January 30, 2020) – On Friday, February 28, 2020 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Thomas Bankston, will present Rossini’s La Cenerentola, the third opera presentation of the 2019–2020 Titans Season. This opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Principal Sponsor for this production is the Opera Guild of Dayton. Performance Sponsor is Crowne Plaza Dayton. Leadership Sponsors are Emerson Climate Technologies and Honda of America. Associate Sponsors are 10 Wilmington Place and Bob Ross Auto Group. DPAA Military Appreciation Presenting Sponsor is Dayton Areospace, Inc.

Set a classic children’s tale to Rossini’s sparkling music, and what do you get? La Cenerentola: Cinderella, or Goodness Triumphant. Everyone needs a happy ending occasionally, and Rossini knew from the start that he had a winner on his hands. He confidently predicted that his Cenerentola would conquer Italy within a year and then England and France in another. “Impresarios will fight to stage it, and prima-donnas to sing it!” he wrote.

He was right. Built on the story we already know, this opera adds a few more twists along the way and characters that spring to vivacious life. They come complete with human quirks, not to mention wonderful music and cascades of rippling bel canto singing. What’s not to love?

Making her Dayton Opera debut in the title role is mezzo-soprano Allegra De Vita. A 2015 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finalist, Allegra has graced the stage with several exciting operatic performances over the last few years, including Maddalena in Rigoletto at Austin Opera, The Page in Salome at The Spoleto Festival, Siebel in Faust at Washington National Opera, and the title role in Carmen in a semistaged production with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, just to name a few. Allegra reprises her role as La Cenerentola, having performed this beloved title role last summer with Boston Midsummer Opera. “To the title role, aka Angelina, Allegra De Vita brought glam of chords and figure as well as an emotional directness that stopped the show just as it began,” said The Boston Musical Intelligencer of her performance.

Dayton Opera welcomes back tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli in the role of charming prince Don Ramiro. Also a Grand Finals winner of the 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Carlos is a recent graduate of Los Angeles Opera’s Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program. Prior to this program, he was a member of Santa Fe Opera’s distinguished Apprentice Artist Program. Carlos was last with Dayton Opera in March 2018 as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, and this April, he will reprise this role as he makes his debut with San Diego Opera. He also won the prestigious Dayton Opera Guild College Vocal Competition during his training at the university level.

Baritone André Chiang makes his Dayton Opera debut as Dandini, Don Ramiro’s trusty valet. He has been described as “vocally commanding” (Oregonian), “handsome of voice” (Opera News), and lauded with “let’s hear more from this singer” (Washington Post). His recent engagements include The Pirates of Penzance with Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre and La Bohème with Mississippi Opera. In addition to many engagements across the country on the stage and in the concert hall, André was a recent Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Dayton Opera always loves when bass-baritone Thomas Hammons returns to the Schuster. With a long and distinguished career at the Metropolitan Opera and companies throughout the U.S., he brings rich vocals, operatic expertise, and wonderful comedic timing to the stage. He will perform the role of the strict and meddling stepfather Don Magnifico in this performance. Thomas was with Dayton Opera recently for the November production of La Bohème, and before that, he performed the roles of Mr. Kofner in The Consul and Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, both in the 2017–2018 season.

In the role of the mysterious philosopher and tutor of Don Ramiro, Alidoro, bass-baritone Alan Higgs makes his Dayton Opera debut. He is an alumnus of two prestigious apprentice programs, the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program where he appeared in a wide range of role with both companies. This season he has appeared in San Antonio Opera’s production of Tosca and as Alidoro in Atlanta Opera’s production of La Cenerentola.

All four of Dayton Opera’s 2019-2020 Artists-in-Residence will also be appearing in this production, making their Dayton Opera main stage debuts. Performing the roles of La Cenerentola’s conniving stepsisters are soprano Maya Vansuch as Clorinda and mezzo-soprano Annalise Dzwonczyk as Tisbe. Tenor Benjamin Krumreig and Baritone Scott Ballantine will appear as members of the choral ensemble, and they will understudy the roles of Don Ramiro and Dandini.

Dayton Opera is thrilled to welcome back Kathleen Clawson as Stage Director for this performance. Kathleen 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 last season’s moving production of Rigoletto. 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.

Rossini’s delightful score comes to life through the masterful playing of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Conductor Clinton Smith. Clinton returns to Dayton Opera for a second time as guest conductor, having last taken the podium in March 2018 when he teamed up with Stage Director Kathleen Clawson for another one of Rossini’s gems, The Barber of Seville. Clinton is currently the Music Director of Orchestra Seattle and the Seattle Chamber Singers, and he maintains a position on the music staff of Santa Fe Opera. Additionally, he has served on the music staffs of Juilliard Opera, Minnesota Opera, Atlanta Opera, Portland Opera, Kentucky Opera and Ash Lawn Opera.

The male members of the Dayton Opera Chorus, under the direction and leadership of Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell, add their choral expertise to this comedic fairy tale.

Resident lighting designer John Rensel will light this production, and wig and makeup designers are Cassandra Brake and Thomas Venditelli. Scenery comes from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, designed by Howard Jones, and costumes from A.T. Jones Costume Company.

Join countless audiences who have tapped their toes and rocked with laughter at opera’s most madcap romp through this familiar French children’s story. Spoiler alert: like the Prince, you may fall in love with Cinderella; happy endings for everybody!

Want to learn even more about La Cenerentola? 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 La Cenerentola begin at $30 and are available by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or by visiting www.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. For more information on tickets, or how to subscribe to the 2019-2020 Titans Season, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.


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.