Organizing his conducting debut with the Toledo Opera, Stefan Sanderling cast his net broad and deep and pulled in a wealth of vocal talent and musical genius for this year’s Gala, the annual celebration of opera in a concert setting.
With the Toledo Symphony, where he is principal conductor and artistic adviser, the Toledo Opera Chorus, and five emerging young soloists, Sanderling proposes to take his audience from Vienna to Paris to New York in a tantalizing musical journey.
The program at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle will be a virtual reunion of beloved characters from three centuries of opera: Zerlina, Susanna, Papagena, Donna Elvira, Carmen, Don Jose, Micaela, Maria, and Candide.
Instead of focusing on a single composer as the opera has for past galas, this program will skim the cream off of nine major works — from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni to Bizet’s Carmen plus Leonard Bernstein’s beloved music for West Side Story, Wonderful Town, and his only opera, Candide.
It should be a sort of all-you-can hear international buffet for the ear.
Making a first appearance in Toledo will be five singers drawn from the best of emerging young talent.
Lyric soprano Laura Pedersen, a midwesterner and graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, has sung in Carnegie Hall, with Opera Cleveland, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Delaware, the Cincinnati Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, and has gained a strong reputation in Europe and Central America.
Coloratura soprano Marcy Richardson, a Grosse Pointe, Mich., native, specializes in soubrette roles — the clever, light-hearted, highest voiced roles which leave audiences gasping and then applauding. Richardson has sung in halls from coast to coast and abroad.
Nora Graham-Smith, mezzo soprano, recently sang the title role in Carmen, Bizet’s most famed opera, with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre. A graduate of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and Eastman School of Music, she has apprenticed at Tanglewood, Aspen, and Opera Theater of Lucca, Italy.
With degrees in music from Indiana University and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, tenor Cody Austin has become very busy in both grand opera and musical theater in New York, Dallas, Shreveport, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.
Michael Krzankowski, a Chicago native, has degrees in music from the universities of Iowa and Cincinnati. He has performed with the Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program, the Lucca Opera Festival in Italy, is a regular at Glimmerglass Opera in upstate New York, and was a finalist in the Julio Gari International Voice Competition.
Tickets for the opera gala are $25-$65 at 419-255-7464 or www.toledoopera.org. An After the Gala party will be presented in the Green Room, off the lower level of the Peristyle, with an opportunity to enjoy savories and sweets, a cash bar, and to meet the singers and conductor. Party tickets are $25 at 419-255-7464.
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