Opera 101 - Tucson Local Media: El Sol

Opera 101

Classic opera composers, works come alive

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Posted: Thursday, February 10, 2011 6:00 am

Anyone can enjoy the opera, especially when a musical composition is intertwined with engaging narrations on the pieces. Opera 101, unlike any other, builds a foundation through storytelling, complemented with the classic art of music and dance.

This year’s performance — Triumvirate in the Bel Canto Era — includes pieces from “Romeo and Juliet,” “Elixir of Love,” “The Barber of Seville” and “Lucia di Lammermoor” on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. The concert is presented by Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance.

Veteran narrator Vivian Weede will explain the stories of the three composers: Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868), who composed his last great opera at age 37; Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), composer of an astonishing 70 operas; and Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1834), known as an extraordinary figure in the romantic mold.

Weede has sung leading roles in “La Traviata,” “La Boheme,” “Tosca,” and “Eugene Onegin,” appearing in the operas of Seattle, San Francisco and New Orleans. She studied at the Manhattan School of Music and Louisiana State University, prior to studies in Italy with Franco Ferraris.

Soprano Erika Burkhart has appeared as a soloist with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Masterworks Chorale, Arizona Choral Society and the Wieck Chamber Singers. She has won the OGSA’s “Quest for the Best” competition, the Amelia Rieman Opera Competition and the Arizona District Metropolitan Opera National Council Audition.

Mezzo-soprano Robyn Rocklein has appeared as a soloist in England, Germany, Austria and the United States. Rocklein has won many awards and was hailed “exceptional soloist” by music critics.

Tenor Francisco Renteria was born in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. He has won many awards, including first prize in the Green Valley Concert Association Piano Competition in 1999. He participated with the University of Arizona’s Opera Theater, singing in several operas.

Baritone Seth Kershisnik, in his second year doctoral at University of Arizona, began a love for classical singing when he sang as a child in the ensemble of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” with Utah Lyric Opera. In Tucson, he was a first-place winner of the Metropolitan Opera AZ District, Amelia Riemann, and Quest for the Best competitions.

Pianist Bonnie Bird studied at the Julliard Preparatory Division, later earning a bachelor degree in piano from Westminster Choir College in Princeton followed by a master of music degree in accompanying and voice. Bird resides in Tucson, where she maintains a private voice studio, and is an accompanist and coach in the voice department for the University of Arizona.

If you go

What: Opera 101 - The Triumvirate of the Bel Canto Era

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13

Where: St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Road

Cost: $20 for adults, $5 for students ages 8-18

For more info: www.saaca.org or 797-3959

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