Guest Blog: Oh!'s Mariam Khalili On Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA

By Guest Blogger, Mariam Khalili

I'm currently sitting at my desk, the sun is setting beautifully out of my window to the west, and downstairs in our theater space here at Lambert Hall, are some out-of-this-world singers having a one-on-one rehearsal with our Maestro, Eiki Isomura. Their occasional chatter and banter is mixed with song and accompanied by piano. What a dream it is to hear such rich voices singing in Italian, perfecting line by line, as we all prepare for opening night. I couldn't ask for a better way to end the work day.

Mariam Khalili, Executive Director at Oh! Photograph by Carl Cramer

Mariam Khalili, Executive Director at Oh!
Photograph by Carl Cramer

LA CENERENTOLA is an opera Oh! has been waiting for. It's our 20th anniversary season, and we chose to present a diverse selection of works. We wanted past and present, comedy, tragedy, traditional, contemporary. And works that would inspire all age groups.

For me, especially, after witnessing the joy of HANSEL UND GRETEL in our 2014-2015 season, I knew it was paramount that we presented another opera that spoke to young audiences.

As we all know, opera can be downright tragic and even violent; not necessarily appropriate for tender eyes and ears. Yet with Rossini's LA CENERENTOLA, our third opera of the season, the story is family-friendly and uplifting. Pair this sweet and treasured tale with the comedic genius of our stage director David Ward, and our dream team designers Jodi Bobrovski and Macy Lyne, and you've got a visually stunning art deco-inspired set, colorful costumes, and eye candy scene after scene.

Our cast and chorus fill the space beautifully, and their voices touch more than just your ears. Our chorus has never sounded better - they are absolutely sensational. Of course, nothing would be complete without my favorite part of this operation - the Opera in the Heights orchestra. Have you heard Maiko Sasaki play the clarinet? Being a former bassoonist, I'm partial to the bassoon, so naturally my heart sings when James Roberson gets a solo in any of our operas.

To encourage audience engagement, our female office staff agreed that we should invite our youngest (and young-at-heart) patrons to wear their favorite princess dresses or prince attire to the performances. Mezzo-Soprano Megan Berti, our CENERENTOLA readily agreed to pose for portraits with costumed guests after performances. I predict our social media will be flooded with adorable photos, and I can't wait to see them.

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