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Archive for the ‘Opera’ Category


Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Opera Concert in the Park
Orinda Community Park, Orinda, CA
July 27, 2014 4 PM
Julia Nielsen, Host

Eileen Meredith, soprano; Angela Moser, soprano; Julia Nielsen, soprano; Cass Panuska, soprano;
Lisa van der Ploeg, mezzo-soprano; Alex Boyer, tenor; Torlef Borsting, baritone; Brad Kynard, baritone

James Meredith, pianist

“Sous le dôme épais” Lakme by Léo Delibes Angela Moser and Lisa van der Ploeg
“Crudel! Perchè finora” Le nozze di Figaro by Amadeus Mozart Torlef Borsting and Cass Panuska
“Hai gia vinta la causa” Le nozze di Figaro by Amadeus Mozart Torlef Borsting
“Via resti servita” Le nozze di Figaro by Amadeus Mozart Lisa van der Ploeg and Cass Panuska
“Casta Diva” Norma by Vincenzo Bellini Angela Moser
“Vogliatemi bene” Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini Eileen Meredith and Alex Boyer
“Un bel dì” Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini Eileen Meredith
“What a Movie” Trouble in Tahiti by Leonard Bernstein Lisa van der Ploeg
“A Woman is a Sometime Thing” Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin Brad Kynard
“Bess, You Is My Woman Now” Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin Brad Kynard and Julia Nielsen


“Make Believe” Showboat by Kern/Hammerstein II Cass Panuska and Torlef Borsting
“Musetta’s Waltz” La bohème by Giacomo Puccini Eileen Meredith
“Che gelida manina” La bohème by Giacomo Puccini Alex Boyer
“Sì, mi chiamano Mimì” La bohème by Giacomo Puccini Cass Panuska
“Toréador” Carmen by Georges Bizet Brad Kynard
“Seguidilla” Carmen by Georges Bizet Lisa van der Ploeg and Alex Boyer
“La fleur que tu m’avais jetée Carmen by Georges Bizet Alex Boyer
“Du bist der Lenz” Die Walküre by Richard Wagner Angela Moser
“I Feel Pretty? West Side Story by Bernstein/Sondheim Julia Nielsen
“A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” West Side Story by Bernstein/Sondheim Julia Nielsen and Lisa van der Ploeg
“Brindisi” La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi Angela Moser, Alex Boyer and Ensemble

Sponsored by The Orinda Rotary Club with support from The Orinda Park and Recreation Foundation and the Orinda Community Foundation AND people like you!

Open Opera brings free, professional opera to Bay Area parks and uses public space to build community through the arts. Open Opera is a project of Vocal Arts Institute, a California 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. Tax ID #68-0335928

IL TROVATORE Feb. 7 and 9 Alameda Elks Club

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Il Trovatore
by Giuseppe Verdi
Directed by Ellen St. Thomas
Conducted by Maestro Robert Ashens

Only two more performances this weekend!

Friday, February 7 at 7:30pm
Be “in the know” before the show!
6:45pm in the Lobby
Join Maestro Robert Ashens for insider info on the making of a Verdi monument
and prepare for audience participation during the opera!


Sunday, February 9 at 2:00pm

at The Elks Ballroom, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda

Opening weekend audiences are singing Virago’s praises:
“No one I talked to could have expected such a poignant and exceptional performance. It was magnificent and worthy of being staged at the Met!! The audience was very enthusiastic and there were moments of extraordinary sensitivity…A night to remember!”

“I have not been a season ticket holder to any venue but if [Virago Theatre Company] offers such quality opera, I may have to start. Bravo! and thank you for saving me a trip to the SF Opera House.”

“This was an outstanding opera experience not to be missed!
The vocals, chorus & orchestra were amazing!”

Soprano Hope Briggs in Concert

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Open Opera is proud to present a special concert featuring the gorgeous voice and artistry of soprano Hope Briggs. Ms. Briggs will perform a recital of songs and arias by Schumann, Strauss, Faure, Verdi, Puccini and others accompanied by pianist Ron Valentino. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear Ms. Briggs in an intimate historical setting. Please join Open Opera in welcoming this distinguished soprano to the Berkeley Piano Club on Saturday afternoon, June 4th at 12:30.

Soprano Hope Briggs

Saturday, June 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm

FREE with suggested donation of $15

WHERE: Berkeley Piano Club, 2724 Haste Street, Berkeley, CA 94704 (Map)
Ample parking is one block away at Underhill Parking Facility (2650 Haste Street)

WHO: Soprano HOPE BRIGGS is well known for her dramatic portrayals and her distinctive voice. Of her impressive San Francisco Opera debut as the Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust, for which Opera News raved, "In her company debut, as the Duchess, soprano Hope Briggs was stellar, delivering one of the evening’s highlights with her lusciously intoned, lovelorn aria." Please see HopeBriggs.com for more information.

Oper ist Hochleistungssport

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

For those of you who understand German - this is an amazing reportage from
ARD this past Sunday - about Opera as a physical, psychological and
technical sport. Interviews with Jonas Kaufmann, Anja Harteros and others.

Well worth the view!!

Oper ist Hochleistungssport:


Rehearsals start for Figaro!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Ellen’s Open Opera rehearsal video

The Marriage of Figaro Press Release

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Ellen St. Thomas, Executive Director
Open Opera

Press Release by:
Jon Spangler
Linda Hudson Writing



Berkeley, Calif., July 1, 2009 –

Open Opera will present two free outdoor performances of W. A. Mozart’s most popular opera, The Marriage of Figaro, July 25-26 in Berkeley’s John Hinkel Park at 3:00 p.m.

A cast of professional opera singers from northern California wearing period costumes will perform the free Saturday and Sunday afternoon productions of The Marriage of Figaro in Italian, with English supertitles. Olivia Stapp, Open Opera’s artistic director and one of its three co-founders, will serve as stage director for this premiere full-length opera. Music director Jonathan Khuner will guide the full orchestra. Open Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro is supported in part by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as by private donations. Open Opera will stage Mozart’s famous work outdoors in John Hinkel Park’s historic WPA-era amphitheater. The park is at 41 Somerset Avenue (between Southampton Avenue and San Diego Road) in Berkeley (John Hinkel Park info). Sylvan Mishima Brackett, formerly of Chez Panisse, will offer catered Japanese box lunches and snacks with organic, locally grown ingredients for $5 - $15 (www.eatpekopeko.com).

The Marriage of Figaro
(Le Nozze di Figaro) is “charming, lighthearted and endlessly enjoyable,” according to Open Opera’s web site. “Vivid characters, glowing wit, dizzying ensembles, mistaken identities, and carefully constructed intrigue make for a miraculous marriage of music and drama in this sublime comedy of manners.”
“We’re bringing opera to the public for free in a time of economic uncertainty, and using public outdoor spaces to build community through the arts,” commented Elizabeth Baker, Open Opera’s co-founder and its creative director. Baker will also sing the role of Cherubino in the show.

WHAT: 2 performances of The Marriage of Figaro, by W.A. Mozart

WHEN: Sat., July 25, and Sun., July 26, 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: John Hinkel Park, Berkeley (http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=12628)

WHO: Produced by Open Opera (www.openopera.net)


Olivia Stapp co-founded Open Opera in 2008 “to bring free, professional opera to Bay Area parks and use public space to build community through the arts. We wanted to return opera to its informal origins so a music lover can listen, walk around, or picnic during a performance.” After a long and successful international opera career, she also wanted to offer talented professionals a place to sing. Executive director Ellen St. Thomas, the nonprofit group’s third co-founder, said, “Open Opera makes opera accessible and enjoyable for a wider audience, without cost or formality.”

At Open Opera’s recent June 20 concert at Franklin Park in Alameda, mothers with infants, retired couples on bikes, picnicking families and kids sitting in trees enjoyed famous opera arias. Another free outdoor concert will be offered at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 11, at Orinda Community Park in Orinda. For more information on “The Marriage of Figaro” and Open Opera, or to volunteer or support opera in public spaces, visit or contact executive director Ellen St. Thomas (ellen@openopera.net); 510-547-2471).