With ‘I Pagliacci,’ Opera in the Heights starts third decade

September 18, 2015
By Martin Hajovsky 

Soprano Donata Cucinotta performed from “I Pagliacci” during Opera in the Heights’ Overture! event at Tommie Vaughn Ford in the Heights, accompanied by Bethany Self. Photo by Carl Cramer

Soprano Donata Cucinotta performed from “I Pagliacci” during Opera in the Heights’ Overture! event at Tommie Vaughn Ford in the Heights, accompanied by Bethany Self.
Photo by Carl Cramer

There’s a clown show in the Heights this week and next, but probably not the kind you’re imagining.

As has been noted here and hereOpera in the Heights is kicking off its 20th anniversary season, and this weekend opens with the classic “I Pagliacci” by Ruggero Leoncavallo at Lambert Hall, 1703 Heights Boulevard.

Last week the company marked the beginning of the season with “Overture,” a party at Tommy Vaughn Ford on South Shepherd, featuring “I Pagliacci” cast members Donata Cuccinotta, James Chamberlain, James Rodriguez, Dash Waterbury and Jeremiah Johnson.

There will be four productions of “I Pagliacci,” tonight, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 20, at 2 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 26, at 7:30 p.m.

The Sunday performances will have a special feature this year. The company will host a “Talk-Back” event following each performance, allowing opera-goers the chance to speak with the cast, stage director Susan Stone Li and conductor Dr. Eiki Isomura. The Talk-Back feature is a great extension of Opera in the Heights’ opera-outreach mission, extending opportunities both to up-and-coming singers and musicians as well teaching the public about this beautiful, beautiful art form.

To that end, the company has expanded its support and outreach programs. From the Young Opera Lovers Organization to the Oh! Guild and educational initiatives, the company is in investing mode. To be completely frank, this company has already lasted 20 years longer than I thought it would when it formed. I was wonderfully wrong about that. And with these initiatives building a foundation for the future, it looks like Opera in the Heights will be around for some time longer.

To get tickets for “I Pagliacci” or one of the other three shows this season — Menotti’s “The Medium and The Telephone” beginning Oct. 30; Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” in February; and Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” in April — check out operaintheheights.com or call 713-861-5303.

Opera in the Heights to Open New Season with I PAGLIACCI

By Opera News Desk
August 27, 2015

Opera in the Heights (Oh!) kicks off its 20th anniversary season with Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci (The Clowns) on Sept. 18, one of several inspired works in the company's 2015 -2016 repertoire. I Pagliacci runs Sept. 18, 24 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. and is an enduring tale of jealousy and rage between lovers in a comedy troupe. Art imitates life with fatal results in this iconic tragedy, featuring the famous tenor aria, Vesti la giubba ("Put on the costume").

To create additional excitement for the new season, on Sept. 10 Oh! will host Overture!, a fund raiser/cocktail reception from 6 - 8 p.m. at Tommie Vaughn Ford, 1201 N. Shepherd Dr., which is open to members of the community, with tickets starting at $40. (Funds will help support Opera in the Heights community programs.) Guests will mingle with Oh! conductor Eiki Isomura, take in performances by some of the company's rising stars and enjoy beverages and appetizers.

"I am giddy with excitement, as we have assembled an absolute dream cast for I Pagliacci," says Oh! conductor Eiki Isomura. "It's a remarkable privilege working with such fine artists, and especially with stage director Susan Stone Li, whom I consider to be a visionary."

"Audiences will also be pleased to find how prominently the piece features our extraordinary orchestra and chorus," Isomura continues. "This promises to be something truly special, a powerhouse production worthy of opening the company's 20th anniversary season."

"We hope our subscribers, YOLO (Young Opera Lovers Organization) members and the public will join us for Overture! to experience a taste of what's in store for this season," says Mariam Khalili, Opera in the Heights' Executive Director. "Oh! is known for supporting the careers of emerging artists, such as the ones you will see at our event. Even those who are not familiar with opera should come away with an appreciation for great art and a feel for what we do. It's also a chance to meet other opera lovers."

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