OSB to Close Out Season with Puccini’s ‘La Rondine’

Opera Santa Barbara will conclude its 23rd season with the company’s premiere production of Giacomo Puccini’s sensuous and poignant operetta La Rondine at the historic Granada Theatre on April 28 and 30. Performances will take place at 7:30 pm on Friday, April 28, and at 2:30 pm on Sunday, April 30. Ranging in price from $29 to $204, tickets can be purchased at www.granadasb.org or by calling 805-899-2222.

Puccini’s lone operetta, which debuted in the shadow of World War I following a fitful creative process, relates the bittersweet tale of a jaded Parisian courtesan who longs for genuine love with a younger man. Filled with lavish costumes and Puccini’s signature effervescence, the three-act work offers an enchanting and sumptuous glimpse of European life in the early years of the 20th century.

La Rondine, which we are performing almost exactly 100 years after its Monte Carlo premiere, is one of Puccini’s most elegant works,” said Opera Santa Barbara Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas, who will conduct the production. “Set in Belle Époque Paris, the story is at once reminiscent of La Traviata, La Bohème, and Die Fledermaus. The score displays all of Puccini’s mastery of vocal writing and orchestral color, but also shows a rare and surprising personal touch, revealing some of the mature composer’s own musings about life, love, and art.”

Acclaimed soprano Karin Wolverton will make her company debut as Magda, the worldly woman who falls in love with a naïve student. Lauded by Opera News for her “lovely warm tone, easy agility, and winning musicality,” Ms. Wolverton sung the challenging role of Anna Sörensen in the 2011 world premiere of Kevin Puts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night with Minnesota Opera. Her other recent appearances have included Micaëla (Carmen) and Mimi (La Bohème) with Tulsa Opera, Fiordiligi in Utah Opera’s Così fan tutte, and Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) with Austin Lyric Opera. On the concert stage, Ms. Wolverton made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Minnesota Orchestra in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3 and has performed with the Phoenix Symphony and the Dayton Philharmonic, among many others.

Tenor Adam Diegel, a veteran of several Metropolitan Opera productions, will sing the role of Ruggiero, the country boy who causes Magda to question the cost of her glittering existence. His engagements last season included two of his signature roles: Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Opera San Antonio and Opera Hong Kong, and Don José in Carmen at San Francisco Opera, Arizona Opera, and PORTopera. He also sang the title role in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Lithuanian National Opera.  This season, Mr. Diegel returns to the Met to sing Ismaele in Nabucco, Opera San Antonio for Carmen (Don José), and Palm Beach Opera for Madama Butterfly (Pinkerton).

Rounding out the cast are baritone Peter Lindskoog as Rambaldo, Magda’s wealthy protector; tenor James Callon as the poet Prunier; and soprano Elizabeth Kelsay as the maid Lisette, Prunier’s lover. Tara Faircloth, whose many credits include Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, will direct.

Complete artist biographies are available at www.operasb.org.

Sung in Italian with English surtitles, Opera Santa Barbara’s production of La Rondine is generously supported by the Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation and the Mithun Family Foundation.

The Granada Theatre is located at 1214 State Street in downtown Santa Barbara.

Open to all ticket holders, free informative talks led by Kostis Protopapas will take place 45 minutes before each Opera Santa Barbara performance at the Granada Theatre.

For more information, visit www.operasb.org or call 805-898-3890.

L'Elisir d'Amore, March 2016, Photo by David Bazemore