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Press Releases

Dicapo Opera Theatre Announces 2009-10 Season

February 11, 2009 | By Hemsing Associates
Public Relations for the Arts
February 10, 2009, New York City – For the 2009-10 season, programmed by Dicapo Opera Theatre’s General Director Michael Capasso and Artistic Advisor Tobias Picker, the company has scheduled five opera productions and two major concerts. The season leads off with a new production of Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline, conducted by the composer and staged by Robert Alföldi, the iconoclastic director of Hungary’s National Theatre in Budapest. This will be the second production of Emmeline since it was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera in 1996. Performances are scheduled for September 10, 11, 12, & 13, 2009. Reached by telephone in London, Mr. Picker commented:

Emmeline was the first opera I wrote. It was commissioned by John Crosby, the visionary founder of the Santa Fe Opera, and given a striking production directed by Francesca Zambello. Now Dicapo is bringing in the young and brilliant Robert Alföldi to interpret Emmeline. Based on a true story of a woman ostracized by everyone in her hometown in Maine after a shocking, long-held secret becomes public, Emmeline re-interprets Greek myth in a decidedly American way. I am particularly gratified that Dicapo is continuing its commitment to presenting contemporary American operas. Mine is just one of many we present and currently have in development.

On October 8, 10, 16, & 18, 2009 Dicapo will present Verdi’s Rigoletto, under the direction of the veteran character tenor Anthony Laciura and conducted by Dicapo’s newly appointed Principal Conductor Pacien Mazzagatti. Dicapo begins 2010 (January 22, 23, & 24) with the New York premiere of The Hotel Casablanca with music and libretto by Thomas Pasatieri, a comic opera in two acts set in Texas in the summer of 1948 and based on the classic Feydeau farce “A Flea in Her Ear.” Samuel Bill will conduct and the cast will feature Dicapo’s resident artists. The director is t.b.a.



General Director Michael Capasso is pleased to announce the launching of an ambitious multi-year project:

For the first in a series of commissioned works, we will present the world premiere of Il Caso Mortara by Francesco Cilluffo, which I will direct and Maestro Mazzagatti will conduct. I am delighted that our first commission will be of an Italian opera; to the best of my knowledge no American company has commissioned an Italian composer to write something since Puccini composed La Fanciulla del West 100 years ago for the Met. Il Caso Mortara is the most operatic of true stories and I consider Francesco Cilluffo to be an outstanding new voice in opera. Performances of Il Caso Mortara are scheduled for February 25 & 27and March 5 & 7, 2010.

A Composers’ Concert entitled “Italian-American Composers of the 20th Century” is programmed for March 6, 2010. Some of the composers to be featured include Mr. Pasatieri, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Norman Dello Gioio, Mark Adamo, and Vittorio Giannini.

The American premiere of Donizetti’s Requiem will be presented March 20, 2010 at the St. Jean Baptiste Church. For this performance the Dicapo Opera Theatre Orchestra and four Dicapo Resident Artists will be joined by the Amor Artis Chorus. (Conductor t.b.a.)

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the Brescia version, directed by Mr. Capasso, will take place April 15, 17, 23, & 25, 2010(Conductor t.b.a.)

As in the past, the Dicapo Opera Theatre presents a series of Saturday and Sunday morning family presentations throughout the season. Mr. Capasso introduces children to the fundamentals of opera and each of the selected scenes is sung by Dicapo’s Resident Artists in costume and with sets to the accompaniment of a piano. Either before the performance or between key events Mr. Capasso elucidates the plot, hints at the complexities of the theatre’s stagecraft, and fires children’s imagination with a taste of grit and magic. The secret to the success of these presentations lies in the fact that Mr. Capasso and his performers never resort to over-simplification. After each performance the children participate in a lively exchange with the singers and crew and are able to ask questions about what they’ve just seen and how things get done. The complete schedule for this series follows:

Verdi’s Rigoletto, October 17 & 18, 2009, 11 a.m.

Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, Dec 12 & 13, 2009, 11 a.m.

Beauty and the Beast by Vittorio Giannini, January 9 & 10, 2010, 11 a.m.

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, April 24 & 25, 2010, 11 a.m.

Rossini’s La Cenerentola, May 15 & 16, 2010, 11 a.m.

Founded in 1981, Dicapo Opera Theatre is the only opera company in New York to present an entire season of opera productions, musical theatre, concerts, family fare, and other events after the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera. The high artistic level of Dicapo’s productions has invariably taken critics by surprise and given rise to a serious and loyal following of connoisseurs and opera aficionados. Dicapo Opera Theatre presentations have ranged from traditional repertoire to rarely performed operas as well as special opera-dance productions, operatic events for children, and at least one contemporary work each season. Although Dicapo’s early productions were presented in the raw space of St. Jean Baptiste Church basement on New York’s Upper East Side, this area was renovated in 1991 under the supervision of General Director Michael Capasso and transformed into a theatre that bears no resemblance to the original space. Its presentations take place in a 204-seat, state-of-the-art opera house complete with supertitles, orchestra pit, spacious lobby areas, as well as on-site administrative and rehearsal spaces.



Since its founding Dicapo has been especially dedicated to the music of Giacomo Puccini. It has given the first performances anywhere of all three versions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Milan, Brescia and Paris) successively in one weekend. By the time Dicapo presented an evening of Puccini arias at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater in honor of the 150th anniversary of the composer’s birth on December 22, 2008, the company had completed its presentations of all of his major works, from Le Villi, the composer’s first opera, to his final opera, Turandot – as well Puccini’s complete non-operatic orchestral and instrumental music. The glittering birthday celebration drew the following praise from New York Times senior critic Anthony Tommasini:

…against all odds the three-hour gala turned out to be a rewarding survey of Puccini’s achievement. The orchestra and chorus Dicapo typically recruits for its productions were expanded significantly for this ambitious program. And the singers who participated included major artists, like the tenor Fabio Armiliato (Daniela Dessi’s husband) and the soprano Veronica Villarroel, who substituted for Ms. Dessi. Four conductors took turns at the podium: Francisco Bonnin, Pacien Mazzagatti, Victor DeRanzi and Eve Queler, who is well-known to New Yorkers. Naturally, it is hard to meet expectations in operas as beloved as “La Bohème” and “Tosca,” which have long heritages of legendary performances. But the chronological format of this program put the emphasis on the music and the composer’s development. The program ended the only way it possibly could have, when Ms. Villarroel brought alluring colorings and lyrical poignancy to Lin’s death scene from Act III of “Turandot,” the last music Puccini wrote before he died at 65 in 1924, leaving the opera’s final scene incomplete. All the participants came onstage as general director Michael Capasso wheeled out a birthday cake. The audience joined the performers in saluting Puccini, his image peering from a poster hovering over the stage and looking justifiably satisfied.

(December 24, 2008)



Extending its commitments internationally, in November 2008 Dicapo participated with four other international opera companies in the first annual “Opera Competition and Festival with Mezzo ,” which was held in Szeged, Hungary in cooperation with France’s Mezzo television network. Dicapo Theatre won the competition with its production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible; other participants included France’s Opéra de Rennes, Germany’s Bremen Theater, Poland’s Baltic Opera, and Hungary’s Szeged National Theatre. In November 2009, Emmeline will travel to Hungary to participate in the second annual Opera Competition and Festival with Mezzo Television. Dicapo will also be co-producing Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox with the English Touring Opera in the 2010-2011 season.



In September 2008, The New York Times prominently featured a review of Dicapo in its “Metro” and “Arts” pages. Assessing Dicapo’s scorching production of Robert Ward’s The Crucible, led by conductor Pacien Mazzagatti and staged by Robert Alföldi, with costumes by Sandor Daroczi, long-time music critic Allan Kozinn wrote:



The Dicapo Opera Theatre’s spare but powerful revival of Mr. Ward’s score was enough to make you nostalgic for that fleeting moment when new theatre and new opera were socially relevant and could make common cause. It remains a powerful work. Throughout, Mr. Ward’s orchestration is vivid, rhythmically vital and melodically eclectic, with folkish vocal settings intertwined with a gently angular modernism. Pacien Mazzagatti’s conducting mined these characteristics astutely. Robert Alföldi’s production, with its minimal sets by John Farrell and Puritanically colorless costumes by Sandor Daroczi, accomplishes much with little. The singing was uniformly strong…Michael Bracegirdle was a magnificently imperious Judge Danforth.

The New York Times, September 13, 2008



Dicapo’s premieres have included the American premiere of Donizetti’s Il Campanello, the New York premieres of Oscar Straus’s The Merry Niebelungs, Wargo’s A Chekhov Trilogy, Robert Ward’s Claudia Legare, and Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin. In addition to its dedication to the classics of Italian opera, Dicapo Opera Theatre has turned its attention increasingly to American opera, as evidenced by the following comments from Opera Now:



The Dicapo Opera’s 50th anniversary production of Carlisle Floyd’s iconic American opera Susannah, directed by Michael Capasso, general director and founder, did full justice to this touching work. The opera can make its mark in the 4,000- seat Metropolitan Opera House, but the intimacy of the 204-seat Dicapo Opera Theatre made the trauma of poor Susannah…even more poignant and immediate.



Dicapo Theatre’s repertoire ranges from the operatic classics by such masters as Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, (as well as Puccini) to the 20th century works of Menotti, Barber, Britten, Robert Ward and Tobias Picker, among many others. Dicapo’s commitment to modern opera was highlighted in 2007 by its New York premiere performance of Tobias Picker’s opera Thérèse Raquin and the appointment of Mr. Picker to be the company’s Artistic Advisor. Mr. Picker has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “our finest composer for the lyric stage.”



In 1997-98 Dicapo Opera Theatre established its Resident Artist Program to assist aspiring singers to bridge the gap between their music studies and their professional careers. Resident Artists, who are in residence from September to June, perform all supporting roles, are covers for leading roles and provide the ensemble for the main stage productions. They also perform in outreach productions, and participate in masterclasses and workshops. Past resident artists have gone on to perform leading and supporting roles with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, and leading regional companies.

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