ROCHESTER, NY — The Eastman Opera Theatre will complete its season of 20th-century opera productions with American composer Kirke Mechem’s comic opera Tartuffe. Performances will be at 8 p.m., Thursday-Saturday, April 5-7, and at 2 p.m., Sunday, April 8, in the Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.).
Based on Molière’s farcical play of the same name, Tartuffe tells the story of Orgon, his family, and a supposed holy man named Tartuffe. Tartuffe befriends Orgon, who is so taken by his religious and virtuous message that he gives him free accommodations and access to all the luxuries of a comfortable life, including his daughter’s hand in marriage and the deed to his house. Orgon’s family sees Tartuffe as a con man; not wanting to be fooled, family members are forced to pose as police and royalty in order to reacquire what Orgon had given blindly to Tartuffe.
The opera, which has been staged more than 200 times by various companies in the United States and Europe, is Mechem’s most popular work, and was immediately successful after its 1980 San Francisco premiere. “Our production, which gives a fresh interpretation to this classic-in-the-making, changes Molière’s original time setting from the 17th century to the start of the Rococo period in the mid-18th century, a time of great economic growth and high fashion on Paris,” said Steven Daigle, assistant professor of opera, who will direct the production.
Set in English, the opera features two alternating casts of Eastman voice students, accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia. The orchestra will be led by guest conductor Peter Grunberg, former music director of the San Francisco Opera and former conductor-in-residence of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The cast will include Patrick Howle and Wade Woodward as Tartuffe; Gregory Brookes and David Wannen as Orgon; Abby Seible and Melissa Kelly as the daughter Mariane; John R. Fulton III and Derek Parks as Damis; Robin Bricker and Laura Enslin as Dorine; Kirk Dougherty and Luis Gangjai Yo as Valere; Alta Boover and Rebecca Comerford as Madame Pernell; and Haejung Shin and Amber Smoke as Elmire.
General admission tickets for Tartuffe are $15, with discounts available to University of Rochester faculty, students, and staff. They are available at Ticket Express, 100 East Avenue, or by calling 222-5000. Tickets also may be purchased at the box office one hour prior to the start of each performance.
On Friday, April 6, the Friends of Eastman Opera will sponsor its annual pre-performance dinner at Villa D’Este Ballroom, 120 East Ave., beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets (including dinner and opera admission) are $60 for members and $70 for non-members. For more information, call 381-0540.
Note to editors: Steven Daigle is available for interviews.