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Seduction, Deception, and Irreverent Reveling Rule the Day as Dayton Opera Proudly Returns to the Schuster Center Stage with the Innovative Production of Don Giovanni: Essential Opera

DAYTON, OH (February 5, 2021)
– On Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Thomas Bankston, will present Don Giovanni: Essential Opera. This opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

This essential work of the opera repertory composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte will be presented in a way that responds to the needs of our current times and to our artists and audience. The performance will focus on the essence of Mozart’s music and drama in an abridged, 90-minute production, with no intermission. All of Mozart’s greatness will be captured in an exciting and 21st century way.

Don Giovanni is one of opera’s most compelling anti-heroes. Based on legends of the infamous Don Juan, the tale follows the title character through seduction, deception, ominous foreshadowing, and irreverent reveling, all the way to a hair-raising ending where things get a little “heated,” and our rapscallion gets his just rewards! It’s no wonder that Don Giovanni is one of Mozart’s supreme musical achievements and is considered one of the greatest operas of all time.

Returning to Dayton Opera for an impressive seventeenth time to direct Mozart’s masterwork is the ever-insightful and creative Gary Briggle. Gary was most recently in Dayton in 2019 to direct Puccini’s heartbreaking and poignant La Bohème. In the past, 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 Carmina Burana in May 2016, as well as the groundbreaking Dayton premiere of Dead Man Walking in February 2015.

Mozart’s captivating score comes to life through the masterful playing of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Artistic Director and Conductor Neal Gittleman, conducting his18th Dayton Opera production. The orchestra will be on stage for this dramatized concert-style performance in a socially-distanced configuration to perform Mozart’s masterful score.

Returning to Dayton Opera in the title role of this production is rising opera star bass-baritone Norman Garrett. He made his Dayton Opera debut in May of 2019 as the prophet Jochanaan in Dayton Opera’s searing production of Salome. Having appeared with notable opera companies across the U.S., he is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Texas Tech University and the Academy of Vocal Arts. Mr. Garrett is a former winner of the George London Foundation Competition, and he has received top prizes in more than a dozen international vocal competitions. Charles T. Downey of Ionarts has described Garrett as “towering in presence and both powerful and refined in sound.”

Taking the Schuster Center stage together again with Norman Garrett is the powerful and dramatic soprano Kara Shay Thomson. Ms. Thomson dazzled audiences in the demanding title role of Salome in May 2019, and Dayton Opera is so fortunate to have her back on stage in this production in the role of the guilt-ridden and vengeful Donna Anna. A resident of nearby Loveland, Ohio, Ms. Thomson also triumphed in the title role in Dayton Opera’s 2018 finale production of Turandot. The New York Times praises her 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 is thrilled to welcome back soprano Kasia Borowiec, who was one of Dayton Opera’s talented young Artists-in-Residence (AIR) in the 2015-2016 season. Her last appearance at Dayton Opera was in the role of Mimi in the 2019 La Boheme. Kasia has completed two other prestigious young artist residencies at the Santa Fe Opera and Palm Beach Opera, and appeared as Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly at Tri-Cities Opera. Praised for her “beautiful singing” and named a “standout” by Opera News, Kasia has quickly established herself as a young singer to watch. She performs the role of the Donna Elvira in this production.

 Tenor Joshua Wheeker returns to Dayton Opera in the role of the Donna Anna’s dutiful fiancé Don Ottavio. Mr. Wheeker was last in Dayton in 2015 as one of the four 2014-2015 Dayton Opera Artists-in-Residence, during which time he performed in Dayton Opera’s daring production of Dead Man Walking. He is a recent graduate of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist program of LA Opera, and he is quickly securing his place as an exciting lyric tenor in the opera world. The “warmth and clarity” of his voice lends itself to many of opera’s leading men, while his musical sensitivity is equally at home in recital and concert.

Bass Nathan Stark joins the cast of Don Giovanni as the Don’s sarcastic sidekick Leporello. Praised by the Washington Post as having a voice of “unearthly power,” The Houston Press as being a “blow away singer,” and the San Jose Mercury News as a “natural comic actor,” American bass, Nathan Stark, has performed on operatic, concert and recital stages throughout the United States, Europe and China. His most recent of several appearances at Dayton Opera was as Escamillo in the 2017 Carmen. Mr. Stark holds degrees in vocal and opera performance from California State University, Long Beach and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

Bass Harold Wilson takes the stage for the sixth time with Dayton Opera as Commendatore, Donna Anna’s elderly military father.  Mr. Wilson’s recent Dayton Opera roles include the brazen hit-man Sparafucile in Rigoletto, the hilarious Basilio in the comedic The Barber of Seville and the majestic Timur in Turnadot. Praised as singing with “an impressive focus, carrying power and quiet charisma” by the New York Times, Wilson has built an impressive résumé over the last 18 years, with performances spanning the globe and including roles in such magnificent opera houses as Deutsche Opera Berlin and the Metropolitan Opera.

Former Dayton Opera Artist-in-Residence soprano Olivia Yokers returns to Dayton Opera to perform the role of the innocent young Zerlina. Praised for singing with “gorgeous vulnerability” by the Richmond Times, Olivia is well regarded for her thrilling voice and versatility onstage. Ms. Yokers delighted Dayton audiences in the role of Mabel in the March 2019 production of The Pirates of Penzance, and most recently, she performed as the soprano soloist in the 2019–2020 DPAA Season Opening Spectacular Haydn’s Creation.

Baritone André Chiang made his Dayton Opera debut as Dandini in last season’s production of La Cenerentola. He returns in the role of Zerlina’s passionate fiancé Masetto. 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). Mr. Chiang was a recent Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

John Rensel, Resident Lighting Designer, will provide lighting design for this production.

To accommodate a variety of viewing needs of its patrons, the DPAA offers three options to enjoy this opera:

  • In-Theater Performances – The DPO will offer two live in-theatre 90-minute performances of this opera, with no intermission, for those who cannot wait to be back in the Schuster Center to experience Dayton Opera in person. These performances will be held Saturday, February 27, 2021 at 3:00pm and at 8:00pm in the Mead Theater of the Schuster Center. In compliance with Public Health–Dayton and Montgomery County, limited seating will be available in the Schuster Center, patrons will be seated in a socially-distance configuration, and strict safety guidelines will be followed in order to ensure the safety of all patrons in attendance. In-theater tickets are $50 per performance.
  • Live Stream Performance – For those patrons who are not yet ready to attend an in-theater performance, this opera can be viewed in a live-stream format from the comfort of home in real time as Dayton Opera performs from the stage. The Live Stream Performance will be streamed at 8:00pm on Saturday, February 27, 2021, and the live stream ticket also provides access to on-demand viewing of the performance until June 30, 2021. Live stream access is $25.
  • Virtual Stream Membership – Patrons can become a DPAA Virtual Streams member which, depending on the membership level, provides access to all DPAA Reimagined Season live and recorded performances, as well as past 2020 Autumn and Holiday Streams, Artist Q&As, Behind-The-Scenes Videos and Bonus Performances. The Premium membership level ($500) provides access to all DPAA Live Streams. The Basic ($100) and Plus ($250) membership levels provide access to all performances five days after the Live Stream premieres. All performances are available for on-demand viewing until June 30, 2021.

“Our intention is to provide patrons with a wide variety of choices so they can access music and dance from Dayton Opera, Dayton Philharmonic, and Dayton Ballet in a way that works best for them,” said DPAA President and CEO Pat McDonald. “We are thrilled to be back on stage in the theater doing what we love to do, and we look forward to sharing the talent and dedication of our musicians, dancers, and singers with our community, who have continued to support us in the face of many challenges over the last year. This ballet a giant first step back for the dance community, and we could not be more excited!”

Tickets for In-Theater and Live Stream performances of Don Giovanni: Essential Opera are available at Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or online at www.daytonperformingarts.org. DPAA Virtual Streams Memberships can be obtained by visiting https://daytonperformingarts.org/streams/. Information and ticketing for this program, or any of the DPAA 2020–2021 Reimagined Season programs, can be found by visiting www.daytonperformingarts.org.


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) 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 greater Dayton community, with a mission to be the community’s indispensable source for traditional, diverse and innovative experiences in ballet, opera, and orchestral music. The vision of the DPAA is to transform lives through the power of music and dance. The DPAA offers a wide variety of performance and education programs, setting a new standard for artistic excellence. DPAA performances reach an audience of more than 90,000 people annually, and their rich arts education programming serves over 60,000 schoolchildren in 150 schools in the Miami Valley. These performances and education initiatives are made possible in part through major support provided by the Ohio Arts Council, Culture Works, the City of Dayton, Montgomery County and the National Endowment for the Arts.