Opera at Florham Closes Season with June Spring Festival

Madison, N.J. -- May 16, 2005 - Opera at Florham closes its 2004-2005 season with three June events designed to delight the opera fan. The events will be held on the College at Florham Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Avenue,(Route 124), Madison, NJ. The June Spring Festival begins with a Master Class conducted by noted Metropolitan Opera bass Paul Plishka on Sunday, June 5 at 3 p.m. in Lenfell Hall, The Mansion.

He will mentor four basses, Frank Basile, Bert Johnson, Aaron Borst and Mark Womak, while pianist Lynda Saponara provides the accompaniment. Among the selections are “Vous che faite l’endormei,” “Ella giammai m’amo,” and the duet, “Son io dinanzi al Re.” Admission to this event is $30.

Plishka has been on the Metropolitan Opera roster since 1967, where he has sung over 1,000 performances. His voice is most often associated with Italian opera, especially Don Carlo, Ernani, Simon Boccanegra, Nabucco, Aida, I Vesjpri Siciliani, Luisa Miller and La Forza del Destino. To mark his 25th anniversary as a principal member of the company, he sang the title role of Falstaff there for the first time. He is also renowned for his appearances in the title role of Boris Godunov and also appears regularly with major international opera companies in the United States and Europe. Widely acclaimed and sought-after, Plishka’s voice has been praised by critics for his smooth, beautifully produced bass and polished dramatic skills.

On Sunday, June 12, musical conductor/pianist Thomas Carlo Bo brings an afternoon of “Shakespeare in Opera” to Madison. This afternoon’s highlights include arias and scenes by various composers who have been inspired by Shakespeare’s writings. Selections include “The English Lesson” and “Passacaglia” (“Henry V,”) the Willow Song (“Otello”), and Nuit d’extasse from Berlioz’s “Les Troyen,” (text from “Merchant of Venice”). For the first time at Opera at Florham, New Jersey composer and conductor Gary Schneider will present Anthony’s speech “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” (“Julius Caesar”.) New to Opera at Florham audiences will be soprano Marsha Thompson and tenor Jon Morrell. Familiar voices returning to the company are mezzo –soprano Marianna Karpatova and bass Frank Basile.

The second half of this program will be devoted to a single work which has been the mainstay of the of the recent Handel revival, Handel’s glorious “Giulio Cesare.” Conductor Thomas Carlo Bo and the singers will be joined by the Rosadoni String Quartet and harpsichordist Natasia Xavier Ling in presenting the selections – “Overature,” “Empio, diro, tu sei,” “ Da tempeste,” “Svegliatevi nel core,” “Se pieta di me non senti,” “Sinfonia di Battaglia” and “Piu amabile belta.”

“Shakespeare in Opera” will be held in Lenfell Hall, The Mansion, at 7 p.m. Admission is $35.

On Sunday, June 19, the opera “Madama Butterfly” will feature soprano Mary Kristine Hughes in the role of Suzuki and tenor Alan Schneider will sing Pinkerton. Julie Liston is cast as Butterfly, Peter Castaldi as Sharpless, Jeremy Gerard as Goro and Bert Johnson as Bonzo.

Julie Johnson made her Carnegie Hall debut in March, 2004, singing the soprano solos in Faure Requiem and Imant Raminsh’s Messe Brevis. While with the Aspen Opera Theatre, she won the concerto competition, and has interpreted a notable amount of new music, such as John Zorn’s La machine de l’etre and Marlio Davidovsky’s Biblical Songs. She received a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, where she is currently teaches with the evening division.

Hughes repertoire includes Dame Quickly, which she sang for the Santa Fe Opera, under the direction of Seiji Ozawa; Blanche in Offenbach’s Bluebeard at Glimmerglass, Mother Jeanne in Dialogue of the Carmelites, and the title role in Carmen. In addition to her appearances in local oratorio and orchestral works, she has appeared over two seasons as Apprentice Artist at Glimmerglass Opera, as well as a season with Santa Fe’s Apprentice Program.

Local audiences will delight in the appearance of Griffin Paul-Moran, a first grader at Nishuane School, Montclair, who will play the son, Dolore. Stage director Phillip Sprayberry’s credits include drama, musical theatre, musical revues and comedy throughout New Jersey, in directing as well as singing and acting. In Montgomery, Alabama, he was commissioned to create a multi-media revue to honor the 175th anniversary of the State of Alabama and the City of Montgomery, “175 Years and the Dream Goes On” for opening night ceremonies at the Alabama State Fair. Richard Turrick is set designer and Kate Day is stage manager.

The “Madama Butterfly” performance will be held in Dreyfuss Theatre at 3 p.m. Admission is $45. All questions and ticket purchases must be requested before the scheduled events. Call the Opera at Florham office, 973-443-8620.

Lenfell Hall, in the Mansion

Lillian Lukac

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