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Published: Thursday, 4/5/2012

Opera reinvigorated financially, creatively

BY SALLY VALLONGO
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
Suzanne Rorick Suzanne Rorick
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Suzanne Rorick likes the sound of the Toledo Opera this year -- and not just the sounds generated by fine singers and musicians in this season.

Having just wrapped up her first 365 days as executive director, Rorick reports improved finances, a revitalized board of directors, increased collaboration with area arts groups, and a revised mission for the 53-year-old performing group. The mission is called Sound Vision, and, if all goes as planned, the opera's future will be bright.

Drafted hastily in March, 2011, after the departure of Renay Conlin as general and artistic director, board upheaval, and the cancellation of the 2010-2011 season's final production, Sound Vision attempted to strike a new balance between artistic vision and actual resources -- financial and creative.

Moreover, Rorick and Loviah Aldinger, associate director, their staff, and board set out to build better bridges between artistic allies in the region and those generous people and organizations that provide funding for the opera.

"We're all in this together," noted Rorick, whose long history in business and development has taught her that one successful year is encouraging, but that keeping opera alive and well in the region requires ongoing effort and creativity.

The first milestone came in October, when the association opened its 2011-2012 season with La Traviata, in two sold-out performances that replaced the canceled spring, 2011, production. Many more lessons were learned producing this year's Gala in February.

And through April, the beloved Opera on Wheels project that takes a tantalizing taste of the art form to 20,000 elementary school students in northwest Ohio and Michigan has built momentum with dozens of performances. In June, the opera will launch a two-week opera camp in collaboration with the Valentine Theatre.

Relationships were expanded and former alliances were revived. Opera expert Kevin Bylsma rejoined the artistic staff. James Meena returned to conduct the fall opera. Stefan Sanderling stepped up for the Gala and will conduct the final production of this season, Puccini's grand work, Turandot, set to be presented in a semistaged production at 8 p.m. May 11 in the Peristyle. Mark Verzatt will direct.

Even more exciting to Rorick, Aldinger, and so many others is the announcement of the Toledo Opera's 54th season for 2012-1013. All performances will be staged in the Valentine.

The season is to open Oct. 5 and 7, with more Puccini, the composer's beloved La Boheme, fully staged, directed, and conducted by Meena. A full production of Mozart's Don Giovanni will go up Feb. 15 and 17, conducted by Sanderling. The Gala will be presented April 12 and 14.

Moreover, Opera on Wheels will take its place on the Toledo Symphony Family Concert Series in May in the Peristyle.

Tickets for Turandot are $25-$65 at 419-255-7464 or www.toledoopera.org. Tickets for the 2012-2013 season go on sale later this month.

The Toledo Symphony presents its annual Bruckner concert at 4 p.m. April 15 in Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, 3565 Collingwood Blvd. Sanderling, principal conductor, will lead Symphony No. 3 in D Minor.

Before the concert, he will receive the Joseph Kilenyi Medal of Honor from the Bruckner Society in America, for his efforts to encourage and support performances of music by Anton Bruckner. The award was announced in 2011.

Established in 1933 by sculptor and Bruckner aficionado Kilenyi, the award has been bestowed on top conductors including Herbert Bloomstadt, Bernard Heitink, Arturo Toscanini, and Georg Szell, and composer Paul Hindemith.

Flutist Lindsey Goodman will perform at 8 p.m. Friday in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center at Bowling Green State University. Flutist Lindsey Goodman will perform at 8 p.m. Friday in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center at Bowling Green State University.
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On Friday, flutist Lindsey Goodman is to perform at 8 p.m. in Bryan Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center at Bowling Green State University. Goodman, who has a master's degree in flute from Northwestern University and a performer's certificate from the Manhattan School of Music, specializes in music by emerging composers, plus multimedia and electro acoustic works. She performs in the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, is on the staff at Marietta College, and is solo flutist with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

Pianist Jason Hardink will perform at 8 p.m. Monday in Bryan Hall, a program comprising three Beethoven sonatas (F Minor, Op. 2, No. 1; C Major, opus 53 "Waldstein," and C Minor, Opus 111) and new works by Jason Eckardt.

Hardink, a specialist in music by French composer Olivier Messiaen, is principal symphony keyboardist for the Utah Symphony and artistic director of the NOVA Chamber Series. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Hardink has master's and doctoral degrees from Rice University.

The BGSU Graduate String Quartet will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Wildwood Preserve Metropark Manor House.

The Metropolitan Opera will present Manon, by Jules Massenet, in a Live in HD screening at noon Saturday in Rave Fallen Timbers, Maumee. Anna Netrebko will sing the title role, with Piotr Beczala, Paulo Szot, and David Pittsinger also in starring roles. Fabio Luisi will conduct this new Laurent Pelly production. Tickets are $22-$24 at the Rave box office.

The University of Toledo Jazz Ensemble will perform twice next week: at the regular jazz night at Crystal's Lounge in the Ramada Inn at 7:30 p.m. Monday, and in a concert at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall. Admission to either event is $3-$5 at the door.

Items for News of Music should be sent to svallongo@theblade.com at least two weeks ahead of the event.


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