First Coast Opera will perform The Marriage of Figaro on January 5 and 6, 2019, at Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College in downtown St. Augustine. The fully-professional production will feature visiting guest artists along with local singers, accompanied by an orchestra provided by Jacksonville’s Music by Pegge and conducted by FCO Artistic Director Curtis Tucker.
The opera, by W.A. Mozart, is one of the most popular operas of all time, performed in many locations around the world each year. Set it 18th Century Spain, it pits the Count Almaviva against his barber and valet, Figaro, as they both vie for the amorous attention of the Countess’s maid, Susanna. Deception and mistaken identities drive the story, as a variety of colorful characters add to the comedy. All ends well as Mozart’s timeless music, both beautiful and invigorating, will leave you humming.
The cast features bass-baritone Ryan Kuster, as the well-known barber and valet Figaro; Christina Rivera as his bride Susanna; Brandon Hendrickson and Lisa Lockhart as the Count and Countess Almaviva, Emily Heumann as the young pageboy Cherubino. Completing the principal cast are Dina Barone, Anthony Offerle, Thomas Rowell, Daniel Altman, and Isabelle Scott. Nelson Sheeley, who directed past FCO productions of La Vie Parisienne and Trial by Jury, will stage the opera.
FCO Artistic Director Curtis Tucker urges both opera newcomers and aficionados to attend. “This is not just my favorite opera,” he says, “this is the opera I would take to a deserted island to hear again and again. If you don’t know opera, this is a great place to start. If you know opera, you already know this. Either way, I hope you will join us.”
MEET THE ARTISTS
Daniel Altman (Antonio)makes his debut with First Coast Opera after recently moving back to his hometown of Jacksonvilleto open The Jax Beach Brunch Haus. He has performed with The Atlanta Opera, Little Rock Opera, Opera Memphis, The Janiec Opera Company, La Musica Lirica (Novafeltria, Italy), Quisisanna Opera, and Milwaukee Opera Theater in roles including Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Don Magnifico in Rossini’s La cenerentola, King Melchior in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Dr. Pangloss in Bernstein’s Candide. He holds a Master in Music degree from the University of Memphis, and his Bachelor’s from Georgia State University.
Dina Barone (Marcellina) is thrilled to make her First Coast Opera debut. Her professional credits include performances at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Caramoor International Music Festival & The Brooklyn Academy of Music. Operatic credits include Carmen, Rosina, Marcellina, Third Lady, Suzuki, Maddalena & Prince Orlofsky. Currently, Ms. Barone is on the music faculty of the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University. Future performances include “Contralto Classics” a recital of music written specifically for the rare contralto voice in Winter, 2019 at the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University.
This season, Brandon Hendrickson (Count Almaviva) sings the world premiere of Paul Sanchez’s new song cycle Gothic Atonement with the San Francisco International Piano Festival and in Castera, Italy at the Autunno Musicale Festivale. He performs, as the baritone soloist, in Brahms‘ Requiem with the Great Falls Symphony and South Dakota Symphony’s production of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and sings Dr. Bartolo with Annapolis Opera in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and the Captain in Titanic at Bob Jones University. Other career highlights include his debut at Carnegie Hall and with the National Philharmonic as the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana last season.
Emily Heumann (Cherubino), mezzo-soprano, is a Studio Artist at Opera Orlando, where she regularly appears in concert engagements across Central Florida. Other recent appearances include Beppe in L’Amico Fritz, Alto Soloist in Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Handel’s Messiah, Irene Malloy in Hello, Dolly, and Hansel in a production of Hansel and Gretel that was praised by Arts and Culture Texas Magazine and the Houston Press. She has also appeared with Sherrill Milnes’ VOICE Programs in several concerts across Tampa, Savannah, and New York, most recently at The National Opera Center. Emily is a recent graduate of the MM Voice Performance & Pedagogy program at The Moores School of Music at The University of Houston.
Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster (Figaro) is recognized for his portrayal of Escamillo in Carmen with Florida Grand Opera, Opera Colorado, Virginia Opera, and Arizona Opera in addition to performing La Tragédie of Carmen with San Diego Opera. Mr. Kuster has also performed Masetto in Don Giovanni with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Arizona Opera and Cincinnati Opera; Angelotti in Tosca with Dallas Opera, Pacific Symphony, Madison Opera, Orlando Philharmonic and Annapolis Opera; the Mandarin in Turandot with Dallas Opera; and Alidoro in La Cenerentola with Opera Saratoga and Nashville Opera. Upcoming performances this season consist of his return to Opera Colorado to sing the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro and to Virginia Opera to sing Carl Olsen in Street Scene.
Lisa Lockhart (Countess Almaviva) returns to FCO after appearing as the Mother in last season’s Amahl and the Night Visitors. She has given numerous European and U.S. performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and sung leading roles with Palm Beach Opera, Opera in the Heights in Houston, and previous turns as the Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Opera Company of Brooklyn, the International Opera Festival in Rome and the Opera in the Chapel Series at Mount Vernon in Washington D.C. A graduate of The Boston Conservatory of Music, Lisa moved to Saint Augustine from the NYC area 4 years ago, where she enjoys teaching voice and working as the cantor/soloist and choir director at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
Anthony Offerle (Dr. Bartolo), makes his debut with First Coast Opera. His credits include performances with the OperaEstate in Rome, Cincinnati Opera, International Chamber Orchestra, Dayton Opera, Wyoming Opera, and Charleston Symphony. The native of Miami, FL has sung over 30 leading roles including title roles in Don Giovanni and Don Pasquale. Offerle is a two-time Metropolitan Opera auditions district winner and regional finalist, a national winner of the Federation of Music Clubs vocal competition, and one of only ten Americans selected to compete in the quadrennial Marian Anderson International Vocal Competition. Dr. Offerle is an Associate Professor of Voice at The University of Florida School of Music and Director of the UF Opera Theatre. He recently served as Artistic Director of the Operafestival di Roma in Italy.
Christina Rivera (Susanna), originally from Ocean Township, New Jersey, has dedicated her life to music and theatre since childhood. Her career highlights include Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Dido in Dido and Aeneas with Opera Lancaster, Rosina in The Barber of Seville with the Portland Opera Tour, Amy in Adamo’s Little Women with the Sugar Creek Symphony & Song Festival, and the title role in Alcina with the Halifax Summer Opera. She won Second Place in the Little Italy Soprano Competition of NYC and Grand Prize in the Florence Boughton Competition of NJ.
Thomas Rowell (Basilio/Don Curzio) maintains an active performing schedule as a recitalist, soloist and in roles with regional opera companies and orchestras. He has performed more than thirty operatic roles with Mobile Opera, Pensacola Opera, and First Coast Opera, including Judge Danforth in The Crucible, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte, Der Steuermann in Der Fliegende Holländer, both Pong and Pang in Turandot, and Father Grenville in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. He currently serves a Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Music and Voice/Opera Coordinator at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.
Soprano Isabelle Scott (Barbarina) is a freshman at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she studies voice and classical harp. She has performed as a soloist with the Gainesville Youth Chorus and as principal harpist with both the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Jacksonville University Orchestra. Isabelle has performed in several musicals at the Orange Park Community Theater, as a chorus member for FCO’s performance of “Madama Butterfly,” and as the harpist for FCO’s performance of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” last December in 2017.
Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for students and are available by visiting firstcoastopera.com or by calling 904-417-5555.