Eastman Opera Theatre continues Opera Season

Double-Bill of Prima la musica e poi le parole and Der Schauspieldirektor

December 20, 2019

More Information:
For Media Inquiries: Eastman Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator: Katey Padden (585-274-1052, kpadden@esm.rochester.edu)

Eastman Opera Theatre is thrilled to continue its season with the double-bill of Salieri’s Prima la musica e poi le parole and Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor in the Black Box Theatre (Annex 804), January 25th, 26th, 31st, February 1st, and 2nd. This double-bill will be directed by Ian Silverman, Masters Candidate in Stage Directing, with musical direction by Timothy Long, Music Director of Eastman Opera Theatre. Both pieces are relatively brief, and put two comical twists on a similar story. This new interpretation of the historical double-bill features dramatic divas, over-the-top acting, and cameos of music by Gilbert and Sullivan and selected scenes from the theatre repertoire.

“Having the opportunity to direct one of Eastman Opera Theater’s mainstage operas has been the highlight of my studies here at Eastman. This is the first production that I have directed where I have the opportunity to collaborate with a team of professional designers to help create a new production.” Says Ian Silverman. “This type of experience is something that I could not have gotten elsewhere, as there are aspects of directing where you simply have to learn by doing. Professor Daigle and Professor Carr’s mentorship throughout the process has made me into a better director and it has been a joy to collaborate with Tim Long both onstage and off.  Their advice and feedback has helped me hone my craft and discover my own directing style. Both of these operas challenged me to think outside the box. I am excited to share these lesser known works with an audience and I hope that it brings them as much joy as it brought me in putting this together.”

Prima la musica e poi le parole is an Italian opera written by Antonio Salieri with a libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti. Der Schauspieldirektor is the German singspiel by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with a libretto by Gottlieb Stephanie. The two operas have similar beginnings, as they were premiered simultaneously at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna in 1786 as part of a competition.

The two short operas present two similar takes on a very familiar story: the auditions for a new opera. In Prima la musica e poi le parole (First the music and then the words) the character of the Composer is commissioned to write a new opera, but the Poet is suffering from writer’s block. In the midst of their frustrations, they are interrupted by Eleonora, the prima donna, who comes to show off her vocal artistry. Matters get worse when Tonina, an opera buffa soprano, enters and demands a role in the show. The opera culminates with the two sopranos breaking into a big fight over who gets to sing the opening aria of the opera, until the Composer and Poet step in to end their quarrel by offering them both opportunities in their show.

In Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario,), the story is brought to a new level by having not just two sopranos auditioning, but rather a whole troupe of actors and singers fighting for their spot in the new company. The Composer and Poet from the Salieri become Frank, an impresario, and Buff, his assistant, as they sit through auditions of actors and singers performing pieces from the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire, Shakespeare plays, and other pieces from the theatrical canon. The tension rises after Madame Herz and Mademoiselle Silberklang, the two opposing sopranos, sing their audition arias and they begin to fight over which one is the better singer. Mr. Plume, an auditionee for the company, steps in to break up their catfight, but ultimately gets dragged into the middle of it. The opera ends after the two women agree to work together, and the whole company sings about how art can bring them all together.

Tickets are on sale now with $26 General Admission. $10 student tickets available. Tickets can be purchased at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 26 Gibbs 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, Julia Bullock, Erin Morley, 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 and past productions include Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi; Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, and Don Giovanni; Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amorePuccini’s La Rondine and La Bohème; 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 and Orlando; Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia; Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges; 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; Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox and Les Enfants Terribles; Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza; and Gordon’s Tibetan Book of the Dead. 

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. The current dean is Jamal J. Rossi, appointed in 2014.

More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy Winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community.