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Archive for May, 2011

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.

MAY 21 CONCERT PROGRAM

Friday, May 20th, 2011

OPEN OPERA presents
An Opera Concert in the Park
Live Oak Park, Berkeley, CA
Saturday, May 21, 2011 3PM
Pianists: Amy Glenn

Eliza O’Malley and Elizabeth Baker: “Prenderò” from Cosí fan tutte by Mozart

Ryan Bradford: “Come paride vezosso” from L’elisir d’amore by Donizetti

Nanette McGuinness and Paul Murray: “Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni by Mozart

Elizabeth Baker: “Una voce poco fa” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini

Zoltan DiBartolo: “L’ultima canzone” by Tosti

Paul Murray: “O du mein holder Abendstern” from Tannhauser by Wagner

Nanette McGuinness: “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini

Raymond Chavez: “En fermant les yeux” from Manon by Massannet

Buffy Baggott and Leland Morine: “Dunque io son” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini

INTERMISSION

Eliza O’Malley: “Quando me’n vo” from La Boheme by Puccini

Brieanne Martin: “Steal me, Sweet Thief” from The Old Maid and the Thief by Menotti

David Chavez: “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca by Puccini

Eliza O’Malley and Buffy Baggott: “The Flower Duet” from Lakme by Delibes

Leland Morine: “Tanzlied des Pierrot” from Die Tode Stadt by Korngold

Marta Johansen: “Caro nome” from Rigoletto by Verdi

Leland Morine and Raymond Chavez: “Au fond du temple saint” from Les Pecheurs de perles by Bizet

Buffy Baggott: “Seguidilla” from Carmen by Bizet

Marta Johansen, Buffy Baggott, David Chavez and Leland Morine: “Bella figlia, della amore” from Rigoletto by Verdi

This concert is sponsored by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The East Bay Community Foundation, the City of Berkeley and people like you! THANK YOU.

THIS CONCERT IS SPONSORED BY THE WILLIAM AND FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION, THE EAST BAY COMMUNITY FOUNDATION, THE CITY OF BERKELEY AND PEOPLE LIKE YOU! THANK YOU.

O P E N O P E R A’S UPCOMING FREE EVENTS:
• JUNE 4, 12:30 – 1:30 HOPE BRIGGS IN CONCERT, BERKELEY PIANO CLUB
• JULY 31, 4PM CONCERT IN THE PARK, ORINDA (WITH ORINDA ROTARY)

OPEN OPERA BRINGS FREE, PROFESSIONAL OPERA TO BAY AREA PARKS AND USES PUBLIC SPACE TO BUILD COMMUNITY THROUGH THE ARTS. IT IS A PROJECT OF THE VOCAL ARTS INSTITUTE A CALIFORNIA 501 C 3 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION.

SINGER’S BIOGRAPHIES
Mezzo Soprano Buffy Baggott is a California Native who has performed leading and featured roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Canadian Opera Company (among others). Locally, she was last heard as Carmen in Berkeley West Edge Opera’s production of “The Carmen Fixation.” Upcoming performances include concerts at The Bay View Music Festival and dreite dame cover in “Die Zauberflöte” for Lyric Opera Chicago. Upcoming performances: “In Eleanor’s Words” (compilation of Stacy Garrop works) - Spring 2011 Release through Cedille Records; Concert: “Four Goethe Songs: Mignons Lied, Der König in Thule, Wandrers Nachtlied I & II”: Jacaranda Music: April 23, 2011; Soloist - various concerts Bay View Music Festival: Summer 2011; 3rd Lady (cover- Die Zauberfloete) Lyric Opera Chicago: November, December 2011; January 2012

Elizabeth Baker, Creative Director, is a San Francisco native and graduate of Williams College. Ms. Baker’s music and performing career spans composition, improvisation, comedy, acting, and opera. Co-founder and creative director of Open Opera, Ms. Baker has performed the roles of Dido and Cherubino and sung at Grace Cathedral with new music composer Earl Howard. Ms. Baker recently appeared at the New Museum in New York with Dogr. Her choral composition, One, Two, Three was commissioned and performed by the International Orange Chorale. Ms. Baker studied composition and North Indian raga with W. A. Mathieu for seven years and is a voice student of Soprano Olivia Stapp.

Baritone Ryan Bradford is a DePaul University graduate who recently made his professional symphony debut with Northwest Indiana Symphony. With DePaul Opera Theater he sang many roles including KoKo in The Mikado and Betto in Gianni Schicchi, and recently debuted in San Francisco as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte. He has been recognized by both Chicago and San Francisco NATS and is a student of Cesar Ulloa. He performed Masetto in Open Opera’s Don Giovanni.

David Chavez, a current Diablo Valley College student, was born in El Salvador and, he says, he has always liked to sing. Chavez also has been a soloist with the Rossmoor Community chorus, the Moraga Community Chorus, the San Francisco Coro Hispano, the San Francisco Lyric Chorus, Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, Open Opera in Orinda, and the San Jose State University Concert Choir. He served as tenor section leader at many local churches, and currently sings at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Orinda.

Raymond Chavez is a Bay Area native with a past life including five years in the San Francisco Opera Chorus. More recently, Ray has appeared with Alameda Civic Light Opera, most notably as Juan Peron in Evita and the Padre in Man of La Mancha, as well as with Altarena Theater and Stagemasters as Frankie in “Forever Plaid”. He recently premiered song cycles by composer Aaron Blumenfeld in Berkeley (Trinity Concert Series). He has performed in the Bracebridge Dinners in Yosemite National Park. It was while singing in Yosemite that Ray returned to the opera repertoire after a twenty-two year hiatus. Since then, he has appeared with Pocket Opera in San Francisco, and with Open Opera in the East Bay. He has appeared with Virago Theatre in Alameda, last year as Rodolfo in La Bohème and recently as Alfredo in La Traviata.

Zoltan DiBartolo comes from a long and diverse vocal background that spans 25 years and includes the genres of Classical, Jazz, Tango, Salsa, Cabaret, and Vaudeville. In recent years, he has directed his efforts towards a long-time dream of becoming an opera singer. Recent roles include La Traviata’s Gastone and La Boheme’s Shaunard (both with Virago Theater Co.), and Enrico Caruso in The Last Night of The Barbary Coast (written and directed by Jessa Brie Berkner). When not singing opera, Zoltan is the vocalist for San Francisco’s acclaimed Tango Number Nine (tangonumber9.com).

Amy Glenn, B.M. piano performance (BYU), M.M. Vocal Coaching/Accompanying (FSU), has worked as an accompanist/coach for many organizations including San Francisco Conservatory of Music, West Bay Opera, Golden Gate Opera, BASOTI (Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute), A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theater), A.M.D.A. (American Music and Dramatic Academy), The Cinnabar Theater, and the San Francisco Opera Center. She performs regularly in recital with members of the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco Opera Orchestra and has worked with various choral groups in the bay area including Cantare con vivo, San Francisco City Chorus, San Francisco Boys Chorus, and Philharmonia Baroque. Amy currently works as Music Director at St. Anne of the Sunset Church in San Francisco where she is principal organist, pianist and conducts 2 Adult Choirs and 1 Children’s Choir. In her spare time, Amy enjoys continued study of French, German, and Italian, teaching her piano & violin students, working in piano technology & tuning, and spending time with her husband and three children.

Marta Johansen has performed extensively with Oakland Opera Theater, Berkeley Opera, Pocket Opera, West Bay Opera, and others in such leading roles as Mimi, Violetta, Gilda, Marguerite, Lucia, and the Queen of the Night. She also stage-directs for the Opera Scenes class at Holy Names University, and maintains a voice studio focusing on dramatic presentation.

William G. Ludtke has been a member of the staff and faculties of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, Holy Names University, Marin Opera, Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. He is currently a member of ASCAP. While living in Chicago, Bill formed his own grass roots opera company which performed over 50 operas during the company’s existence. Repertory Opera Theater had a large roster of singers and a supporting administrative and artistic staff. Performances included works by Puccini, Mozart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Poulenc’s three operas and numerous one-act operas from the 20th century repertoire. He has received awards from The American Composers Forum, the Meet the Composer Program, the American Guild of Organists, ASCAP, Mu Phi Epsilon, the American Music Center in New York, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Irvine Foundation, San Francisco Art Commissions and the City of Oakland Cultural Funding Program.
Brieanne Martin is happily singing with San Francisco Symphony and striking it out on small opera and musical stages. She has just been seen as Frasquita in Carmen (Verismo Opera), Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana (Pocket Opera), Giovanna in Rigoletto (Verismo Opera) and the soul-saving Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls. She studies with Erie Mills and has two baccalaureates, one in Dance and one in Music.

Hailed in the press for her “creamy golden tone,” “glorious soprano,” and “magnetic stage presence,” lyric soprano Nanette McGuinness has performed the roles of Mimì (La Bohème) in the Czech Republic and Musetta (also La Bohème) in Italy. Bay Area audiences have heard her recently as the Countess (Le Nozze di Figaro), Foreign Woman (Menotti’s The Consul), Micaela (Carmen), and First Lady (The Magic Flute) with companies that include Mission City, Trinity Lyric, San Jose (Opera-in-the-Schools), West Bay, Verismo, Berkeley, Livermore Valley, and Pocket Operas. She has been a Teaching Artist for the S.F. Opera Guild, and her CD of music by women composers, Fabulous Femmes, was named “perfect for the song recital lover” by Chambermusic Magazine. Concert engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony as well as works by Mozart, Rossini, Canteloube, Haydn, and the world premiere of William Ludtke’s Christmas Suite with Joann Falletta and the San Jose Symphony, among others. Upcoming: Freia, Desdemona, and a Baroque recording with the Vinaccesi Ensemble.For more information: www.nanette.biz.

Leland Morine, baritone, came from a musical family. He earned a Bachelor of Arts at Fresno Pacific College and a Master of Arts at California State University, Fresno. He won the Metropolitan Opera District Auditions five times, received top prize in the Fresno District Merola Auditions, and was awarded prizes twice from the Henry Holt Memorial Scholarship. Roles performed include Maletesta Don Pasquale, Dandini Cenerentola, Silvio & Tonio Pagliacci, Renato Ballo, Schaunard Boheme, Scarpia Tosca, Falstaff Falstaff, Elder Germont Traviata, Silva Ernani, Ezio Attila, Michele & Gianni Schicchi Trittico, Count Figaro, Guglielmo Cosi, Sparadrop Princess of Trebizonde, Emperor Rossignol, Jupiter Orpheus, and many Gilbert and Sullivan characters. He regularly performs with the Uptown Singers. Sings Opera, Broadway, and Standards at Bella Restaurant in Redwood Shores, presents Neapolitan Standards at Nicolino’s Garden Restaurant in Sunnyvale, and on radio and in recital. He is widely known for his performances of 17th century through 20th century oratorio and concert literature.

Paul Murray has been living and singing in the Bay Area for the last eight years, pursuing a variety of performance opportunities. Recent operatic highlights include the roles of Basilio (Il Barbière di Siviglia, Opera San Jose), Top (The Tender Land, Berekeley Opera), Alidoro (LaCenerentola, Opera San Jose), and the Four Villains (The Tales of Hoffman, Berkeley Opera. Favorite recent concerts include the premiere of “Thanksgiving for Heroes” by Eric Davis, a new work for chorus, soloists, and dancers; and “They Left a Light,” a collaborative project presenting works by composers who didn’t survive Terezín. In addition to his performing schedule, Mr. Murray teaches collegiate voice lessons at Santa Clara University and privately from his home in Alameda, and is the director of Jubilate Deo, a children’s choir in Hayward. He received his Master’s degree in 2005 from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, under the tutelage of Leroy Kromm.

Soprano Eliza O’Malley has performed leading roles throughout Northern California. Over the past few years, she has performed the roles of Gilda in Rigoletto, Suor Angelica in Suor Angelica, Micaela in Carmen, Violetta in La Traviata, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Antigone in Mark Alburger’s Antigone, as well as Nedda in Pagliacci. She looks forward to reprising the role of Nedda, and singing Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Norma in Norma with Verismo Opera at the Hillside Club and in Vallejo in the coming months.

Ellen St. Thomas enjoys performing, teaching, conducting and directing. Her opera performances with local opera companies such as West Bay Opera, Livermore Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Mission Opera and The Marin Summer Music Festival include: The Countess, The Marriage of Figaro, Rosalinda Die Fledermaus, Mimi La Boheme, Miss Jessel Turn of the Screw, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Jenufa and Mayor’s Wife Jenufa, Micaela Carmen, Pretzel Girl in Shostakovich’s, The Nose. Opera directing credits include La Boheme and Rachmaninoff’s, Aleko for the Russian Center. Ms. St. Thomas has a private voice studio and teaches voice at the Alameda School of Music. She is co-founder and executive director of Open Opera.

OPERA CONCERT AT LIVE OAK, MAY 21 at 3PM

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

MAY 21 AT 3PM IN BERKELEY’S LIVE OAK PARK OPEN OPERA PRESENTS “A CONCERT IN THE PARK”

Berkeley, California (May 10, 2011)—Open Opera is very proud to present a free afternoon concert featuring opera’s best-loved arias and ensembles. The sensuous and joyful sounds of Mozart, Verdi, Puccini and Bizet will be performed by outstanding Bay Area singers. Open Opera extends opera’s reach to park audiences with award-winning performers and extraordinary newly discovered singers. Concert in the Park is a FREE community event and perfect for everyone. Bring the family, children, loved ones, and a blanket to experience this operatic event. Don’t miss the opportunity to bask in the sun, under the oaks while enjoying a glorious musical feast.

WHAT: Free performance of crowd-pleasing opera favorites
WHEN: Saturday, MAY 21, 3-4:30 pm
WHERE: Live Oak Park in Northeast Berkeley, 1301 Shattuck Avenue, at Berryman Street between Shattuck and Oxford
(MAP: http://tinyhttp.com/liveoakpark)
Live Oak Park is accessible to all persons with disabilities. To request disability accommodations and/or sign language interpretation please call within one week advance of this event.
Parking in the event area is limited so public transportation is encouraged.
CONTACT: Open Opera, 510-547-2471, info@openopera.net

May 7, 2011 Dimond Park Concert Program

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

OPEN OPERA presents
An Opera Concert in the Park
Dimond Park, Oakland, CA
May 7, 2011 3PM

Shawnette Sulker: “Ah! Je veux vivre” from Roméo et Juliette by Gounod

Carolyne Anne Jordan: “Chi’l bel sogno di Doretta” from La Rodine by Puccini

Leland Morine: “Kogda by zhizn domashnim krugom” (Onegin’s Aria) from Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky

Rebecca Krouner: “Non più mesta” from La Cenerentola by Rossini

Buffy Baggott and Shawnette Sulker: “Presentation of the Rose” from Der Rosenkavalier by R. Strauss

Pedro Rodelas: “Ch’ella mi creda” from Fanciulla Del West by Puccini

Carolyne Anne Jordan, Alexandra Jerinic, and Leland Morine: “Soave sia il vento” from Cosi fan tutte by Mozart

Eileen Meredith: “Sempre libera” from La Traviata by Verdi

INTERMISSION

Shawnette Sulker and Rebecca Krouner: “Viens, Mallika” or the Flower Duet from Lakmé by Delibes

Alexandra Jerinic: “Non so piu” The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart

Wayne Wong: “Toreador Song” from Carmen by Bizet

Carolyne Anne Jordan: “Un bel di, vedremo” from Madama Butterfly by Puccini

Pedro Rodelas and Leland Morine: “Au font du temple saint” from Les Pecheurs de perles by Bizet

Buffy Baggott: “Seguidilla” from Carmen by Bizet

Shawnette Sulker, Rebecca Krouner, Pedro Rodelas and Leland Morine: “Bella figlia dell’amore” from Rigoletto by Verdi

Open Opera’s Upcoming Events:
May 21, 3PM Concert in the Park, Live Oak Park, Berkeley
July 31, 4PM Concert in the Park, Orinda (Sponsored by Orinda Rotary)

Open Opera brings free, professional opera to Bay Area parks and uses public space to build community through the arts. Openopera.net

This concert is sponsored by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The East Bay Community Foundation and people like you!
SINGERS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Mezzo Soprano Buffy Baggott is a California Native who has performed leading and featured roles with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Canadian Opera Company (among others). Locally, she was last heard as Carmen in Berkeley West Edge Opera’s production of “The Carmen Fixation.” Upcoming performances include concerts at The Bay View Music Festival and dreite dame cover in “Die Zauberflöte” for Lyric Opera Chicago.

Elizabeth Baker, Creative Director Elizabeth J. D. Baker is a San Francisco native and graduate of Williams College. Ms. Baker’s music and performing career spans composition, improvisation, comedy, acting, and opera. Co-founder and creative director of Open Opera, Ms. Baker has performed the roles of Dido and Cherubino and sung at Grace Cathedral with new music composer Earl Howard. Ms. Baker recently appeared at the New Museum in New York with Dogr. Her choral composition, One, Two, Three was commissioned and performed by the International Orange Chorale. Ms. Baker studied composition and North Indian raga with W. A. Mathieu for seven years and is a voice student of Soprano Olivia Stapp.

Alexandra Jerinic has been an active performer in the Bay Area for the past three years. She recently created the role of Mrs. Hale in the world premiere of John Bilotta’s opera Trifles. She also placed in the East Bay Opera League’s 2010 Young Artist Scholarship Competition. Other recent credits include Katisha in The Mikado, Albine in Thais, and Yeomen of the Guard with Lamplighters Music Theater. This summer she will perform the role of Dorabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at the California Opera Association’s summer institute.

Carolyne Anne Jordan, Soprano, has been performing professionally in the San Francisco Bay area for four years. Most recently, she sang the role of “Lola” (Frasquita) in Berkeley West Edge Opera’s The Carmen Fixation, and will sing in the Extra Chorus of the San Francisco Opera later this year. Past engagements include recitals with The Santa Cruz Chamber Players, a world premiere role at Mission City Opera, Livermore Valley Opera (cover), Goat Hall Productions, and in the summer programs West Coast Opera Workshop and BASOTI. Carolyne Anne studies in San Francisco with Sheri Greenawald.

Mezzo-soprano Rebecca Krouner is an active performer in the Bay Area. Recent performances include Meg Page (Falstaff) with North Bay Opera, Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly) with Golden Gate Opera, and Lady Ella (Patience) with Lamplighters Theater. Upcoming performances include the premiere of a contemporary piece with San Francisco-based Earplay and Cherubino with Pocket Opera.

Washington, D.C. native Eileen Meredith has been singing professionally for the last 15 years. She is currently performing the role of Violetta in La Traviata with Virago Theatre Company (viragotheatre.org) In 2010, Eileen performed as Mimi in La Boheme for Virago Theater and one critic exclaimed “her duets…came as near to heartbreak as the [audience] can bear.” A co-founder of Virago, she also played the role of Polly Peachum in The Threepenny Opera and Cunegonde in Candide. She has performed with San Francisco Opera, Berkeley Opera, Goat Hall Productions, Pocket Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, and Sonoma City Opera.

Leland Morine, baritone, came from a musical family. He earned a Bachelor of Arts at Fresno Pacific College and a Master of Arts at California State University, Fresno. He won the Metropolitan Opera District Auditions five times, received top prize in the Fresno District Merola Auditions, and was awarded prizes twice from the Henry Holt Memorial Scholarship. Roles performed include Maletesta Don Pasquale, Dandini Cenerentola, Silvio & Tonio Pagliacci, Renato Ballo, Schaunard Boheme, Scarpia Tosca, Falstaff Falstaff, Elder Germont Traviata, Silva Ernani, Ezio Attila, Michele & Gianni Schicchi Trittico, Count Figaro, Guglielmo Cosi, Sparadrop Princess of Trebizonde, Emperor Rossignol, Jupiter Orpheus, and many Gilbert and Sullivan characters. He regularly performs with the Uptown Singers. Sings Opera, Broadway, and Standards at Bella Restaurant in Redwood Shores, presents Neapolitan Standards at Nicolino’s Garden Restaurant in Sunnyvale, and on radio and in recital. He is widely known for his performances of 17th century through 20th century oratorio and concert literature.

Pedro Rodelas’ stage credits include principal roles in La Boheme, Carmen, Tosca, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata, La Fanciulla del West, and Faust. Pedro recently appeared as The Lover in “Amelia goes to the Ball” with Mendocino Chamber Opera and as Don Jose in Berkeley West Edge Opera’s production of “The Carmen Fixation”. Upcoming engagements include appearing as a featured soloist at the Mendocino Music Festival and returning as Chef Pierre as part of The Bracebridge Dinner at Yosemite National Park. Pedro is currently a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus and also appears frequently with the internationally acclaimed performing group, The Three Waiters.

One of the San Francisco Bay Area’s most well-rounded musicians, James Meredith conducts the country’s acclaimed Sonos Handbell Ensemble. A native of North Carolina, Mr. Meredith received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University. He is a musical partner with mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and dramatic soprano Olivia Stapp. Concerts with Ms. Von Stade included an appearance on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” reaching a National Public Radio audience of over two million listeners. He has been teaching, accompanying and coaching students for the Young Musicians Program at UC Berkeley for 14 years. His voice students are winners of many competitions and have gone for advanced degrees at top-ranked universities and conservatories, many on scholarships.

Ellen St. Thomas enjoys performing, teaching, conducting and directing. Her opera performances with local opera companies such as West Bay Opera, Livermore Opera, San Francisco Lyric Opera, Mission Opera and The Marin Summer Music Festival include: The Countess, The Marriage of Figaro, Rosalinda Die Fledermaus, Mimi La Boheme, Miss Jessel Turn of the Screw, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Jenufa and Mayor’s Wife Jenufa, Micaela Carmen, Pretzel Girl in Shostakovich’s, The Nose. Opera directing credits include La Boheme and Rachmaninoff’s, Aleko for the Russian Center. Ms. St. Thomas has a private voice studio and teaches voice at the Alameda School of Music. She is co-founder and executive director of Open Opera.

Shawnette Sulker has been a soloist with San Francisco Opera, Mark Morris Dance Group, American Bach Soloists, Hawaii Opera Theatre and Internationale Opera Producties (The Netherlands). Roles include Adele (Die Fledermaus), Die Königin der Nacht (Die Zauberflöte), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Musetta (La Bohème), Despina (Così fan tutte). Upcoming, she appears in West Bay Opera’s Dido and Aeneas and Festival Opera’s The Most Happy Fella.

Wayne Wong has sung roles in over 50 Bay Area opera productions. Upcoming engagements include Antonio in Pocket Opera’s production of Figaro in July. He also performs as an actor, with assorted public readings and commercial voiceovers to his credit.

Open Opera Ending on a High Note

Friday, May 6th, 2011

An Invitation to Open Opera’s Final Performances!

May 7 @ 3 pm - Opera Concert in the Park, Dimond Recreation Center in Oakland

May 21 @ 3 pm - Opera Concert in the Park, Live Oak Park in Berkeley

July 31 @ 4 pm - Opera Concert in the Park, Orinda Community Park in Orinda

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Dear Friends of Open Opera,

Thank you for your support of Open Opera. It has been an extraordinary two years.

We would like to invite you to our final three performances: May 7 in Oakland, May 21 in Berkeley and July 31 in Orinda.

Whether you have attended performances, participated in our productions, or helped us present free professional opera with your generous donations of time and money, we thank you. We know of no organization that has brought engaging, free professional opera to six thousand people in two short years. We could not have done it without you.

Last week, co-founder and artistic director, Olivia Stapp, regretfully resigned due to family health concerns. Consequently, Open Opera’s two other co-founders, Ellen St Thomas and Elizabeth Baker, carefully evaluated the organization’s prospects for success in the 2011 season. As volunteers, all three have poured heart and soul into Open Opera, each receiving great benefits and making significant sacrifices along the way. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Ellen St Thomas, who deserves high praise for the myriad efforts made on behalf of the organization.

With this in mind, we have chosen to take the opportunity to end the wonderful experiment of Open Opera on a high note. The rough idea that we took from the kitchen table to the opera stage grew concert by concert, ultimately presenting hundreds of musicians and reaching thousands of audience members in four Bay Area cities. Many have remarked on the unique atmosphere of our outdoor performances, which were inclusive and accessible. Others have noted that our master classes offered new and remarkable insights into the art form. Still more heard opera for the first time through Open Opera.

Most important among our achievements, Open Opera has shown that classical music has a vital future. Our fully staged productions have demonstrated that there is tremendous interest and support for opera, even among those new to the art form. We hope that these achievements can offer inspiration to others whose love of the arts compels them to perform or produce classical music.

Open Opera’s mission to produce free professional opera, and build new audiences and community through the arts, remains a viable and deserving pursuit.

With the challenges of raising funds paramount among our concerns, we have chosen to celebrate all that we have achieved so far. We are not interested in compromising our standards, which we have assiduously tried to maintain at the highest possible level. Further, Olivia Stapp’s unparalleled experience on the world’s stages makes it difficult to imagine filling her shoes.

We plan to compile a record of our activities and notes on the experience in order to enable others to learn from Open Opera’s experience. We welcome your responses, well wishes, and questions with open hearts. It would mean a great deal to hear from you.

When, where and how Open Opera might come to life again remain to be seen.

Thank you once again for joining us in pursuit of great art and the fullest expression of human experience.

Yours sincerely and with love,

Ellen St Thomas, Elizabeth Baker and Open Opera’s Board and Advisory Board