March 6, 2018

More Information:
For Media Only: Jessica A. Kaufman (585-274-1057, jkaufman@esm.rochester.edu)

Eastman Opera Theatre Brings Broadway Hit to Kodak Hall

Eastman Opera Theatre’s upcoming performance of The Light in the Piazza, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, and book by Craig Lucas, will be presented April 5, 6, 7, and 8 at Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. This stunning musical is the winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Original Score. As the first Broadway musical to be presented by Eastman Opera Theatre in Kodak Hall, this production marks a turning point for the Opera Department and the school. The Light in the Piazza is directed by Stephen Carr, with musical direction by Benton Hess.

The Light in the Piazza takes place in Italy in the summer of 1953. Margaret Johnson, the wife of an American businessman, is touring the Tuscan countryside with her daughter, Clara. As The Light in the Piazza unfolds, a secret is revealed: in addition to the cultural differences between young lovers Clara and Fabrizio, Clara is not quite all that she appears. Unable to suppress the truth about her daughter, Margaret is forced to reconsider not only Clara’s future, but her own hopes as well.

Director Stephen Carr gives some insight into the production: “We’re thrilled that The Light in the Piazza will be our first Broadway musical presented in Kodak Hall, and in many ways, it seems the perfect title to have that distinction.” He continues, “With its demanding vocals, emotional storyline, and sweeping score (large portions of which are sung in Italian), it seems a natural extension of the operatic tradition that has long been the bread-and-butter of Eastman Opera Theatre. But it also marks an exciting step forward for us, because in fully embracing the evolution of the art form we’re also able to expand the variety of productions Eastman can offer the Rochester community.”

Eastman Opera Theatre was fortunate to have composer-lyricist Adam Guettel in residency with Eastman students in February, to work on staging, character development, and vocal master classes, as well as providing invaluable insights into his own creative process. Guettel himself initiated the visit to Eastman, something he certainly does not do for every production of his show. “Piazza, at its heart, is about love. To work with a young cast of students on capturing that love, and the honesty in the lyrics and music—that’s the joy of teaching and seeing your work continually come to life.”

Guettel is providing an additional aspect to Eastman’s production. “Kim Grigsby and I have done expanded orchestrations for The Light in the Piazza — with the premier of this version being Eastman’s production.” The audience will certainly appreciate the expanded orchestrations for what is already a beautiful, lush score. “Having a wealth of talented musicians is a gift,” Adam continues.  “The caliber of Eastman students is at such a high level. They’re game for anything and they’re very serious about their work.” 

The Light in the Piazza also marks Benton Hess’ last show as music director of Eastman Opera Theatre, before his retirement at the end of the academic year. “Adam Guettel has created a stunning work, which I think is more operatic than perhaps even he, himself, knows. The music is lyrical, very beautiful, and compelling. The story is simple on its surface but complex at its core, and we are all emotionally engaged to the extreme in this production. Not a single rehearsal passes when I don’t want to burst into tears…from joy!”

Pre-performance talks will be presented one-hour before each performance in the Ray Wright Room (Room 120) in the Eastman School of Music. *NOTE: There will be no pre-performance talk for the Thursday, April 5 show. *

Tickets for Light in the Piazza are $24 General Admission. $10 student tickets available. Tickets can be purchased at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St.; by phone (585) 274-3000; or online at http://eastmantheatre.org

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About Eastman Opera Theatre:

Eastman Opera Theatre offers a comprehensive program of training and performance opportunities.  Many Eastman graduates, like distinguished alumni Renée Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Nicole Cabell, enter the operatic profession as a natural extension of this experience.

A minimum of three productions are mounted yearly, each within a different-sized performance venue at the Eastman School, including the recently renovated 2300 seat Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the 450-seat Kilbourn Hall, and the 75-seat Opera Studio. Productions feature a wide range of musical styles, most are performed in the original language, and depending on the venue, many use full orchestral accompaniment. Studio productions, scenes programs, and outreach events are also presented to further enhance the variety of performance experience. Eastman Opera Theatre utilizes a “class and degree blind” approach to casting, meaning that roles go to the singer with the best audition, starting their Junior year in school and with the approval of their studio voice teacher. Most of our productions feature a mix of upper class undergraduates (juniors and seniors), masters, and doctoral students.

Recent productions include Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro; Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amorePuccini’s La Rondine and La Boheme; Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Albert Herring; Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret; Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Assassins; Floyd’s Susannah; Handel’s Xerxes, Orlando; Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia; Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortileges; Bock’s She Loves Me; Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites; Lehár’s The Merry Widow and Weill’s Street Scene; Monteverdi’s  L’Incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea); Les Enfants Terribles.

About Eastman School of Music:

The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.

About 900 students are enrolled in Eastman’s Collegiate Division– about 500 undergraduate and 400 graduate students. Students come from almost every state, and approximately 20 percent are from other countries. They are guided by more than 95 full-time faculty members. Six alumni and three faculty members have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, as have numerous GRAMMYÒ Awards. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 700 concerts to the Rochester community.