Santa Fe Opera Apprentices Give Free Concert Friday

SOCORRO, N.M. April 11, 2012 – Enjoy a “Night at the Opera,” when the Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Program makes a tour stop at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13, in a Performing Arts Series event.

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Josh Guerrero

Julie Ebner

The concert is free; however, an optional full dinner will be served prior to the performance, specially prepared by new Chartwells chef, Hassan Abassary.

The Santa Fe Opera’s Apprentice Program is internationally recognized as one of the finest programs of its type.

“This is a program both for opera lovers, and for those who have never experienced this historical art form,” said PAS Director Ronna Kalish. “The Santa Fe Opera’s apprentice program comprises all aspects of theater, from vocals to music, costumes and stagecraft,” she said.

“And I encourage everyone to join us for the ‘Night at the Opera’ dinner, starting with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and followed by dinner at 6:00pm, for a complete evening of camaraderie, an elegant dinner and an exciting operatic program,” Kalish said.

She added that Socorro is only the second stop on the month-long Santa Fe Opera Apprentices spring tour, which ends May 4 in Alamogordo.

The touring group is comprised of music director Kirt Pavitt, soprano Julia Ebner, tenor Joshua Guerrero, and stage manager Joel Atella, who are traveling through New Mexico and parts of Texas with sets and costumes.

To Fully Appreciate a ‘Night at the Opera,’ Make Reservations for Dinner

One of the traditions at the Santa Fe Opera is an elegant form of tail-gating, where patrons dressed in their finest evening attire dine on gourmet fare and enjoy champagne or other beverages.

New Mexico Tech’s Tech Club – Club Macey is offering its patrons the next-best option: A specially prepared dinner with three entrée options, including a vegetarian dish.

Chartwells Chef Hassan Abassary has planned a sumptuous dinner for the evening, featuring three entrées – Tilapia Filet served with pineapple mango salsa; Barley and Pecan-Stuffed Tomatoes with bell pepper and onion; and Dijon Fennel Pork Loin served with white wine demi-glace and apple chutney.

All meals include Berkley salad, herbed orzo pasta, dill-glazed baby carrots and Italian crème cake for dessert.

The dinner itself begins at 6 p.m. on the second floor of New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center, preceded by a social hour at 5:30 p.m. The event includes a no-host bar.

Dinner tickets are $20 for members of Tech Club – Club Macey, $25 for non-members and $10 for graduate students. Please purchase tickets or make reservations by Wednesday, April 11, at PAS Office in Macey Center (835-5688) or Auxiliary Services in Fidel Center (835-5050).

Ebner was an apprentice singer during the 2011 season, and Guerrero will be a first-year apprentice with the Santa Fe Opera this summer.

The sprint tour program opens with Avastar, an original work written especially for the tour by Pavitt and stage director Kathleen Clawson, to engage students in the world of opera using contemporary themes.

Avastar, a 35-minute piece, is about a virtual music competition in which two young singers (Ebner as Estrella and Guerrero as Supernova) have entered, incorporating music from opera, Broadway and the present-day musical scene.

An eclectic selection of operatic scenes, and writing adapted for opera, follows an intermission: Ch-il bel sogno from La Rondine by Puccini; O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi, also Puccini; La Serenata from Neapolitan Song, Tosti; E lucevan le stelle from Tosca, Puccini; a piano solo introduced by Pavitt; Good-Bye World, Lee Hoiby; There Came a Wind Like a Bugle, Emily Dickenson (Hoiby); Romanza, Malavasi; La Danza, Tarantella from Les soirées musicales, Rossini; and Lippen Schweigen from The Merry Widow, Lehár.

Ebner, a graduate of Syracuse and Binghamton universities, is currently in the Emerging Artist Program at Virginia Opera, where she recently performed Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Peep-Bo in The Mikado, and next season sings Stella in a new production of Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Guerrero is a graduate student in the opera department at UCLA, where he performed the Chevalier in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites last season, and this year sang Orpheus in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. He begins his residency in August as a young artist with the Los Angeles Opera for the 2012-2013 season.

Pavitt has distinguished himself as both soloist and collaborative artist. He was for many years music director in the Education Department of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and his long-time affiliation with The Santa Fe Opera culminated in an appointment as full-time music associate in 2002.

This year, Clawson is staging her ninth production for the spring opera tour. She also has directed Il Campanello, Dr. Miracle and the world premiere of Stephen Paulus’s Shoes for the Santo Niño.

She is the principal voice teacher for Young Voices of The Santa Fe Opera and is on the faculties of the New Mexico School for the Arts and the Department of 125 Theater and Dance at the University of New Mexico.

Atella, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., joins the spring tour following a month-long engagement with Opera Southwest in Albuquerque. He brings to the position a broad range of experience in directing, technical work and stage management.

Apprentice singers receive voice lessons, repertory coaching, lessons in movement and diction, and performance opportunities in main-stage roles, as well as the ensemble. They also audition for opera managers and agents from around the world.

On average, about 40 apprentice singers are selected from more than 1,500 applicants each year. Those who are selected participate in a rigorous program of training and performance, which includes supporting roles in main-stage operas, starring in two evenings of apprentice scenes, vocal coaching, auditions, and many other activities.

Apprentice technicians function in every backstage department, working side by side with internationally renowned designers, directors and production personnel in the areas of stage operations, properties, audio and video, costumes, production/music services, makeup and wig construction, stage lighting and scenic art.

As a touring program, the apprentice ensemble brings a taste of opera to towns and cities without formal opera programs of their own, and Socorro is among them.

Opera traces its history to the late 16th century in Italy. In fact, the word itself is derived from the Italian for work or labor, perhaps because the art form incorporates the many aspects of spoken theater, from the story being told, to the scenic backdrops and, sometimes, dancing.

Since 1957, the Santa Fe Opera has drawn audiences to its unique adobe-styled building in the high-desert terrain of one of America’s oldest, and most recognized, cities.

Charles Mackay is only the third general director in the opera’s 55-year history, following in the footsteps of Richard Gaddes (2000 – 2008) and founding director John Crosby (1957 – 2000).

Sponsor for this evening of opera is SMPC Architects of Albuquerque.

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech