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Faust

Would you strike a deal with the devil?

Witness the ultimate struggle between good and evil in Gounod’s dramatic tale of an aging scholar, an innocent young woman and the Devil himself.

What follows is a struggle between good and evil that is destined for tragedy as only great opera can tell it.  Abounding with Gounod’s unforgettable melodies, this new production by Bernard Uzan was a “triumph” at its Arizona premiere.

DON’T MISS the Austin debut of bass-baritone Jamie Offenbach in the role of Mephistopheles. Offenbach has been praised as “made for the part.”

Stage Shot 1 Low Res

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Cast List

Faust: Jonathan Boyd
Mephistopheles: Jamie Offenbach
Marguerite: Jan Cornelius
Valentin: Hyung Yun
Marthe: Cindy Sadler
Siebel: Claire Shackleton
Stage Director: Bernard Uzan

Synopsis

ACT I
OptGF3X5878Alone in his study, the aged Dr. Faust despairs that his lifelong search for a solution to the riddle of life has been in vain.  Twice he raises a goblet of poison to his lips, but falters when the songs of young men and women outside his window re-awaken the unfulfilled passions and desires of his youth.  Cursing life and human passion, the envious philosopher calls on Satan for help.  The Devil appears, and Faust tells him of his longing for youth and pleasure; Méphistophélès replies that these desires can be realized if he will forfeit his soul.  Faust hesitates until the Devil conjures up a vision of a lovely maiden, Marguerite.  A magic potion transforms Faust into a handsome youth, and he leaves with Méphistophélès in search of Marguerite.

ACT I, scene 2
We are now in a bar/club.  Valentin, a young officer, holding a medallion from his sister Marguerite, asks his friend Siébel to protect the girl in his absence and then bids a touching farewell.  Wagner, a soldier friend of Valentin, starts the revels with a lively song but is interrupted by Méphistophélès, who delivers an impudent hymn in praise of greed and gold.  The Devil refuses a drink from Wagner and amazes the crowd by offering champagne to all.  When he makes a brazen toast to Marguerite, Valentin draws his weapon, but it shatters.  The other men, recognizing Satan, threaten Méphistophélès, who cowers before them.  As the crowd goes back to pleasure, Faust speaks to Marguerite.  She demurely refuses to let him escort her home.  Méphistophélès returns to lead the merrymakers in their dance.

ACT II
Siébel briefly visits Marguerite’s flower boutique and leaves her a bouquet of  flowers. The romantic youth is followed by Faust and Méphistophélès, who goes in search of a gift to outshine Siébel’s.  Left alone, Faust hails Marguerite’s simple home. The Devil returns with a box of jewels, which he places near Siébel’s flowers. When Marguerite arrives, she sings a ballad about the King of Thule, distractedly interrupting the verses with reflections on the stranger she has met.  Discovering the flowers and box, the girl exclaims in delight as she adorns herself with jewels.  Méphistophélès detours a nosy middle-aged neighbor, Marthe, by flirting with her, so that Faust may complete his seduction.  As Méphistophélès invokes a beautiful night, Marguerite confesses her love, but nevertheless begs Faust to leave.  The Devil mocks Faust’s failure and points to Marguerite, who has reappeared at her window.  As she ecstatically expresses her love for Faust, they meet and embrace.  She yields to his embraces, as Méphistophélès’ taunting laughter is heard.

ACT III, scene 1
On the street in front of Marguerite’s boutique, Marguerite, who has been abandoned and mocked by all, laments about Faust who never came back.  Her only remaining friend, Siebel, tries to comfort her until suddenly we hear fanfares announcing the return of Valentin and his comrades from war,  singing the glory of those slain in battle.  The soldier questions Siébel about Marguerite but receives only evasive replies; puzzled, he enters his house.  Faust, remorseful at having abandoned Marguerite, arrives with Méphistophélès, who serenades the girl with a lewd ballad.  Valentin, stepping forth to defend his sister’s honor, fights a duel with Faust.  At a crucial moment, Méphistophélès interferes and Valentin is killed.  As the Devil drags Faust away, Marguerite kneels by her fatally wounded brother, who curses her with his last breath.  She rises slowly and, giggling madly to herself, moves through the crowd of villagers.

ACT III, scene 2
Marguerite seeks refuge in church, but Méphistophélès, who has taken over the church, curses her and torments her with threats of damnation. She collapses.

ACT III, scene 3
Marguerite has been sent to a mental hospital for the murder of her illegitimate child.  Faust enters, bent on spiriting her away.  As the Devil keeps watch, Faust wakens Marguerite; at first the distracted girl is overjoyed to see her lover, but instead of fleeing with him she tarries to recall their first days of happiness.  When Méphistophélès emerges, urging haste, Marguerite calls on the angels to save her.  Méphistophélès pronounces her condemned, but a choir of angels proclaims her salvation.

—Courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera

Continue Reading | March 21, 2012

The Marriage of Figaro

Something’s afoot in the palace of the Count!

Mischievous schemes, masquerades and mistaken identities take center stage in Mozart’s delightfully wicked masterpiece!

The infamous Figaro, his bride-to-be Susanna and the Countess conspire to expose and embarrass the cunning, skirt-chasing Count.  This is comic opera at its best!

DON’T MISS the return of Jamie-Rose (The Magic Flute, 2011) and bass Paolo Pecchioli (The Italian Girl in Algiers, 2011) to Austin as Susanna and Figaro in this riotously funny staging of Mozart’s classic.

Marriage of Figaro Dress Rehearsal

Marriage of Figaro Dress Rehearsal

 

 

All performances of this event have passed.

 

 

Cast List

Marcellina: Lisa Alexander
Antonio: Brett J. Barnes
Count Almaviva: Jonathan Beyer
Countess Almaviva: Eleni Calenos
Barberina: Amelia Ciskey
Cherubino: Tynan Davis
Don Basilio/Don Curzio: Joseph Evans
Susanna: Jamie-Rose Guarrine
Figaro: Paolo Pecchioli
Dr. Bartolo: Michael Wanko
Stage Director: Chuck Hudson

Synopsis

Setting: The grand estate of Count Almaviva, just outside Seville. 

Act I
On the eve of their wedding Figaro, valet to Count Almaviva, and Susanna, his sweetheart and maid to the Countess, assess the accommodations granted to them by their employers. Though Susanna isMarriage of Figaro Dress Rehearsal secure in her love for Figaro, and seemingly immune to the Count’s repeated advances, Figaro ponders the situation with trepidation. Not long after Figaro finishes one set of worries, two more set upon him. Marcellina, a woman old enough to be his mother and obsessed enough to warrant a restraining order, enters with Don Bartolo, planning to collapse Figaro’s nuptials. Marcellina feels that Figaro must marry her to settle a debt. Susanna returns as Bartolo departs with time enough to quarrel with Marcellina. Quick on Susanna’s heels is the page, Cherubino, who is oozing with “amore” and desperately trying to enlist her aid. He is woefully in love with the Countess and wishes to be her private servant. The page barely has a moment to conceal himself as Count Almaviva arrives to allure Susanna. Don Basilio, the music master, interrupts soon after, and the Count then hides. Don Basilio has come to gossip and criticize Cherubino for his bold admiration for the Countess. Hearing this, the Count becomes infuriated, reveals himself, and recounts the page’s recent escapades with Barbarina, his gardener’s daughter. While denouncing the harmless flirt, the Count discovers him concealed behind a chair. Figaro then returns with a round of peasants praising the Count. This eases his near-exploding temper just enough to keep him from wringing Cherubino’s neck. He sends him into his regiment instead, the act closing with a sardonic Figaro congratulating Cherubino on his forthcoming career in the military.

Act II
Countess Almaviva is in solitude as she laments the loss of love in her marriage. Susanna and Figaro come into her quarters to help devise a plan to bring more respectable behavior from their unruly master. With the addition of Cherubino, who pops in to sing a love song, the foursome construct a plan in which the Count will be embarrassed into changing his ways. He will receive an anonymous letter accusing the Countess of infidelity and an enticing invitation from Susanna to meet in the garden concealed by night. When the Count attempts to seduce her, he will find that the woman is really Cherubino. The Countess, innocent and hiding close by, will be able to intercede. Figaro departs and in preparation, Susanna tries to dress Cherubino in a gown, but he foolishly flirts with the Countess. Before the costume is complete the Count approaches and Cherubino is tossed into hiding. He fumbles and the noise captures the Count’s attention. While the Count departs to gather tools to break down the door, Susanna slips into Cherubino’s place and the page jumps from the window. But the Countess has confessed that a partially dressed page is behind the door and the Count threatens violence. When Susanna is revealed, the Count apologizes profusely. Figaro arrives announcing the wedding feast. The befuddled Count becomes suspicious and demands explanation of the anonymous letter he received. Just then the inebriated Antonio, the gardener, arrives demanding to know who jumped from the window and destroyed his flowerbeds. In an attempt to appease the situation Figaro claims that it was he who leapt from the window, but Antonio then hands over documents left behind by the page. The Count demands to know of the documents and with some prompting from the women, Figaro asserts that he was delivering Cherubino’s enlistment papers, which are awaiting the official seal. The Count is assuaged momentarily, until Marcellina, Bartolo and Basilio enter demanding the Count persecute Figaro for his breech of promise. The act concludes in mass chaos.

- 20 MINUTE INTERMISSION –

Act III
Susanna indulges the Count and plans to meet him in the garden after the wedding. The Count feels successful in his wooing, until he overhears Susanna whispering to Figaro that he is sure to be acquitted. The Count, sensing mischief set against him, expounds on the deceit of a servant having the woman he desires. Meanwhile at Don Curzio’s, Figaro claims that he can not marry Marcellina because he does not have his parents’ permission. But he is unable to identity his parents, until he discovers proof that they are none other than Marcellina and Bartolo. The family rejoices, Marcellina and Don Bartolo deciding to celebrate their own wedding on the same day as their son and new daughter-in-law. Susanna and the Countess later construct the letter, which will confirm the plan set against the Count. Ladies arrive to bring flowers to the Countess, and the estate hurriedly prepares for a double wedding. Cherubino, who is dressed among the ladies, is spotted and exposed by Antonio. Barbarina intercedes on Cherubino’s behalf and pleads with the Count for the one wish he has previously promised her. He succumbs and agrees to let Barbarina marry Cherubino. During the celebration that follows, the Count opens Susanna’s letter. Figaro enjoys watching as the Count pricks his finger on the pin that closed the envelope, as festivities ensue.

Act IV
In the garden at night, Barbarina is heard searching for the pin left behind by the Count. Figaro forces her to reveal that she is meant to return it to Susanna to confirm their secret meeting. In a rage of jealously Figaro expounds the injustices and cruelties of women. Meanwhile, Susanna celebrates the excitement of the forthcoming night of love as Figaro mistakes her words for words about the Count and is devastated. Susanna and the Countess adjust their scheme. The Countess, dressed as Susanna, awaits her husband’s arrival and finds herself being kissed by the page! Cherubino is tossed off by the Count who then unknowingly charms and adores his own wife. Figaro, seeing “Susanna” kissing the Count finds the “Countess” who he knows is hiding nearby and starts to kiss her. All parties discover the identity of their rightful partner and rejoice in a rightful happily ever after.

Courtesy of Boston Lyric Opera

Continue Reading | March 21, 2012

Pagliacci

Who’s laughing now?

This famously tragic play-within-a-play tells the heartbreaking story of betrayal and jealousy in an Italian commedia dell’arte troupe.

Theater and reality collide in a dramatic climax of operatic proportions when Canio discovers his wife has eyes for another actor. “Laugh, clown, at your broken love!” he exclaims in one of opera’s most legendary tenor arias.

World renowned tenor Carl Tanner returns to the Austin Stage. His Canio at the New York City Opera was admiringly described as “the performance of a lifetime.”

Photos by Jim Scholz

All performances of this event have passed.

Cast List

Silvio: Corey McKern
Nedda: Danielle Pastin
Beppe: Philippe Pierce
TonioDaniel Sutin
Canio: Carl Tanner
Stage Director: Garnett Bruce

Synopsis

Prologue
No pagliaccio non sonBefore the performance begins, Tonio addresses the audience directly: Look beyond the costumes and makeup.  The drama you are about to experience is a tale of truth, both in the ecstasy of love and the brutality of rage.

Act I
A traveling troupe of actors is heartily welcomed by the villagers. Canio encourages them to attend their show that evening, and villagers invite the players for a drink. Tonio lingers and is jibed as a result.  He is really staying behind to woo Nedda, as in the commedia dell’arte play they will soon act out. Canio adopts a serious tone. Perhaps on the stage, Pagliaccio might resign himself to his fate if he were to discover Colombina with another man, but if Canio were to catch his wife in an indiscretion, the outcome would be very different.

Left alone, Nedda carefully ponders Canio’s words. It is as if he could read her very thoughts.  Indeed she longs for freedom and has taken on a lover, Silvio. Nedda is surprised by the sudden appearance of Tonio, who quickly confesses his secret desire for her. She cruelly repels his advances, equating him with the half-witted commedia character he plays.

Tonio exits in a fury and in comes Silvio, overflowing with affection and concern. The troupe shall soon be off, and he will no longer be able to hold Nedda in his arms. He encourages her to run away with him that very evening, after the play has concluded. Nedda hesitates, but only for a moment, then agrees to the plan. Tonio has led Canio back to witness the secret tryst from a distance. Silvio disappears unrecognized, but Canio has heard enough to berate his wife, demanding to know the name of her secret lover and punctuating his threats with the blade of a knife.

Beppe happens upon the scene in time to break off Canio’s attack. He demands that everyone steady their emotions as the show is about to begin. Canio laments his situation, but he must put on the costume of Pagliaccio and make people laugh while inside he is ripped apart.

INTERMISSION

Act II
The villagers gather excitedly for the evening’s entertainment. The curtain rises with the four players in character: Nedda as Colombina, Beppe as Arlecchino, Canio as Pagliaccio and Tonio as Taddeo, prepared to act out the classic tale of the cuckolded husband. Assured by the servant Taddeo that Pagliaccio is away, Colombina awaits the appearance of her true love, Arlecchino. Taddeo takes this moment to pour out his true feelings to her, but she heartlessly brushes him off and as soon as Arlecchino arrives, Taddeo is ordered away. The lovers dine together and agree to drug Pagliaccio so that they can be together. They are interrupted by Taddeo, who warns that Pagliaccio is making an unexpected return. Arlecchino rushes out, and Colombina/Nedda’s parting words mimic exactly what she had said to Silvio earlier, “Till tonight, and I shall be yours forever.”

Pagliaccio observes the half-eaten meals and Colombina’s guilty demeanor. He demands to know her lover’s name, slipping out of his portrayal of Pagliaccio and into the reality of Canio’s world. Nedda is at first carefree, then defiant.  If deemed unworthy, she demands to be set free. Again the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred, and blinded by rage over her constant denials, Canio stabs Nedda in cold blood. In her cry for help she blurts out Silvio’s name, but as he rushes to her side, Canio murders him as well. As in the Prologue, Tonio again addresses the audience with the final line — the comedy is over.

Courtesy of The Minnesota Opera

All performances of this event have passed.

Continue Reading | March 21, 2012