Friday, January 23, 2009

Opera UCLA to present "Le Nozze di Figaro"

Opera UCLA presents a roisterous new production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro" at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall, at 8 p.m. on Feb. 6 and 13, and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 8 and 15.

The opera will be performed in Italian with projected English supertitles. Peter Kazaras directs the production, with Neal Stulberg conducting the UCLA Philharmonia. The event is made possible in part by the generous support of the Maxwell H. Gluck Foundation.

Tickets for "Figaro" can be purchased through the UCLA Central Ticket Office by calling 310-825-2101. Reserved seating is $20 ($10 for students with ID and seniors).

Campus parking is available for $9 in Lot 2 (enter the campus at Hilgard and Westholme avenues).

One of the world's best-loved operatic masterpieces, "Le nozze di Figaro" is based on a comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, with a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte and music by Mozart. First performed at Vienna's Burgtheater on May 1, 1786, the opera — a sequel to Beaumarchais' "The Barber of Seville" — centers on the efforts of the wily Figaro to keep the philandering Count Almaviva away from Figaro's fiancée, Susanna, while also helping the countess, herself pursued by the young page Cherubino, to expose the count's infidelities and ultimately reclaim his affection.

Peter Kazaras, director of opera studies in at UCLA, has been the artistic director of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program since 2006. He has enjoyed a career as an operatic tenor since 1979 and in the past decade also has worked with great success as a stage director and teacher. His career highlights as a tenor include world premieres and performances of many new works, including Corigliano's "The Ghosts of Versailles" (Metropolitan Opera), Bernstein's "A Quiet Place" (Houston Grand Opera, La Scala, Kennedy Center, Vienna State Opera), Tippett's "New Year" (Houston Grand Opera) and Picker's "Thérèse Raquin" (Dallas Opera), as well as a legendary Carnegie Hall performance of "Jenufa" alongside Gabriela Benackova and Leonie Rysanek, with Eve Queler conducting the Opera Orchestra of New York.

Among Kazaras' many credits as a stage director are "Norma" for the Seattle Opera; "Le Nozze di Figaro," "The Turn of the Screw," "Falstaff" and black-box touring productions of "The Tragedy of Carmen" and "La Serva Padrona" for the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program; "Trouble in Tahiti" for the Caramoor Festival; "SuorAngelica" and "Gianni Schicchi" for Opera UCLA and the Hartt College of Music; "Iolanta" for the Academy of Vocal Arts; and "The Medium" and "Angélique" for the San Francisco Opera's Merola Program.

A native New Yorker, Kazaras is a graduate of Harvard and New York University School of Law. Neal Stulberg, director of orchestral studies at UCLA, has served as music director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and as assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Carlo Maria Giulini. In 2001, he conducted the Philip Glass opera "Akhnaten" at the Rotterdam Festival and Thomas Adès' "Powder Her Face" with the Long Beach Opera. An acclaimed pianist, he performs as a recitalist and chamber musician, as well as with major orchestras and at international festivals. He has recorded for West German Radio and the Composers Voice label. He is a recipient of the Seaver/NEA Conductors Award.

The cast for Opera UCLA's "Figaro" includes In Joon Jang and Julian Arsenault (Figaro), Joanna Foote and Lauren Michelle (Susanna), Douglas Carpenter and Hongsuk "Mario" Chae (Count Almaviva), Andrea Fuentes and Rebecca Sjöwall (Countess Almaviva), Leslie Cook and Judy Tran (Cherubino), Tracy Cox and Emily Lezin (Marcellina), Christopher Remmel (Bartolo; Antonio cover), Dory Schultz (Basilio, Don Curzio), Pasquale D'Alessio (Basilio cover, Don Curzio cover), Sergey Khelikulov (Antonio), Anush Avetisyan and Micaela Tobin (Barbarina), Alene Aroustamian and Katy Tang (Two Ladies), and Leela Subramaniam (Two Ladies cover). Chorus members include Alene Aroustamian, Anush Avetisyan, Pasquale D'Alessio, Kelci Hahn, Nushin Nataneli, Ian Pruneda, Leela Subramaniam, Katy Tang, Micaela Tobin, Brian Vu, Justin Yu and Nick Zammit.

In addition to Kazaras and Stulberg, the production team includes associate director James Darrah, production manager Melissa Somrack, scenic designer Curtis Wallin, lighting designer Dayna Morgan, costume designer Anna Björnsdotter, stage manager Alex Ohanesian, set builder Will Lidderdale, prop master Kirk Graves, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television props director Chuck Olsen, assistant conductor Stephen Karr, director of the UCLA Opera Studio Rakefet Hak, accompanist and coach Judy Hansen, and accompanist and supertitle operator Mona Lands.

Opera UCLA productions have provided an important interdisciplinary, performance-based experience for UCLA student conductors, directors, instrumentalists, designers and, of course, singers, many of whom are being trained to star in the world's finest opera houses. UCLA vocal students have been winners and finalists in regional and national vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

The UCLA Department of Music, part of the Herb Alpert School of Music (which also includes the departments of musicology and ethnomusicology), prepares students for professional careers as performers and composers with degree programs that fully integrate academic and artistic excellence. Studies emanate from both the American and European music traditions, with a strong focus on the international character of late 20th-century composers and performers. The department is housed in the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture.

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The UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture (UCLA Arts) attracts artists, architects, dancers, designers, musicians and scholars, who draw on the school's unique curriculum, which interweaves work in performance, studio and research studies, providing students with a solid creative, artistic and intellectual foundation, as well as a liberal arts education from one of the country's finest research universities. Students gain a global view of the arts while integrating contemporary practice and theory in their chosen discipline.

Providing a full range of course offerings and degree programs, the school comprises six degree-granting units (architecture and urban design, art, design and media arts, ethnomusicology, music, and world arts and cultures), five centers (the Art Sci Center, the Art Global Health Center, the Center for Intercultural Performance, the Experiential Technologies Center and the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts), two museums (the Fowler Museum at UCLA and the UCLA Hammer Museum) and a major performing arts program (UCLA Live).

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