Monday, May 01, 2000

Opera casts Summer Festival

By Janelle Gelfand
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cincinnati Opera has finalized casting for its 2000 Summer Festival. Artistic director Nicholas Muni will direct two productions: Salome and Pelleas et Melisande.

        ăTo open the season, soprano Stephanie Friede will sing the title role in Richard Strauss' Salome (June 22 and 24). She will be joined by Norwegian bass-baritone Ronnie Johansen (Jokanaan); tenor Jacque Trussel (Herodes); British mezzo-soprano Susan Parry (Herodias); and tenor Scott Piper (Narraboth).

        Salome is part of a trilogy being designed for the company by Peter Werner (which included last season's Turn of the Screw). Stefan Lano will make his conducting debut.

        ăIn Rossini's La Cenerentola (June 29 and July 1), mezzo Phyllis Pancella will make her role debut as Cinderella (whose real name is Angelina), opposite Bruce Fowler (Don Ramiro). Others in the cast are bass Timothy Nolen (Don Magnifico); baritone Stephen Powell (Dandini); and bass-baritone Richard Bernstein. The stepsisters will be sung by Frankie Hatcher and Cincinnatian Blythe Walker.

        La Cenerentola, created by Gary Eckhart for Baltimore Opera, will be directed by David Gately and conducted by Steven Crawford.

        ăThe company will mount Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande for the first time July 13 and 15, with sets and costumes designed by Dany Lyne for its recent Canadian Opera Company premiere. French Canadian baritone Jean-Francois Lapointe sings Pelleas; Rumanian mezzo Ruxandra Donose will make her role debut as Melisande; and baritone David Pittman-Jennings will sing Golaud. They are joined by mezzo Luretta Bybee (Genevieve) and Elizabeth Skillings (Yniold).

        French maestro Stephane Deneve will conduct.

        ăThe season concludes July 14, 19 and 22 with Verdi's Aida, designed by Wolfram Skalicki. Celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will make her role debut as Amneris. Armenian soprano Hasmik Papian will sing Aida, and tenor Gabriel Sade is Radames. Baritone Donnie Ray Albert returns as Amonasro.

        Italian native Mario Corradi will direct, with Edoardo Muller leading in the pit.

        Among the other roles, bass David Michael, whose day job is a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, will sing the First Guard in Salome and the King of Egypt in Aida.

        All performances are at 8 p.m. in Music Hall. For subscription ($35-$337) information: 241-2742. Single tickets ($12-$85) will be available after June 1.


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