“A Boisterous Rebirth for Opera in Orlando”

 (Feb 19th Press Release)

WHO: Opera Orlando; principal performers Julia Foster, Bridgette Gan, Alex Mansoori, Gabriel Preisser and Andrew Emery; stage director Eric Pinder; conductor Michael Sakir; members of the Orlando Philharmonic and the Opera Orlando Children's Chorus

WHAT: “A Boisterous Rebirth for Opera in Orlando” - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Impresario and Francis Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias 

WHERE: The Jim & Alexis Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801

WHEN: Friday and Saturday April 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday April 24 at 2:00 p.m. A Pre-performance Presentation will be given one hour before each performance in the Dr. Phillips Center

TICKETS ($10-$66) and INFORMATION: www.OperaOrlando.org; 844-513-2014 or at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Box Office (no fees)  Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.; Saturday 12:00 noon- 4 p.m.  

Opera Orlando (formerly Florida Opera Theatre) is ready to put its new philosophy and vision to work for the audiences of Central Florida.

On Friday and Saturday, April 22 and 23 at 7:30pm, and Sunday, April 24 at 2pm, The Jim & Alexis Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts will be the site for a unique double bill of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "comedy with music” The Impresario and Francis Poulenc's "fertile farce" Les Mamelles de Tirésias. In celebration of this marquee event the company is calling the production "A Boisterous Rebirth for Opera in Orlando."

"This is the opportunity we've been waiting for," said Gabriel Preisser, Opera Orlando's new executive & artistic director. "Our goal is to make sure that folks leave the performances filled with the joy and beauty that only our art form can bring."                                                 

"It's a logical process," explained Vincent Connor, the company's new general director. "Choose the right operas, create an innovative production concept, assemble exceptional talent and build engaging costumes and scenery. We’re also taking full advantage of the precious intimacy we have thanks to the Jim & Alexis Pugh Theater.”

Mozart's The Impresario was first performed in Vienna in 1786 as part of a competition designed by Emperor Joseph II. (Mozart’s nemesis, Antonio Salieri, won it with a court intrigue-inspired romp.) Opera Orlando will set this incarnation in modern-day Orlando, where a struggling company, desperate to do anything to survive, must enlist the financial help of a flamboyant opera patron, Mr. Deep-Pockets. He only makes one request: that the company use his two new soprano flings, Everly Shrills and Bethany Squeals. With all the backing needed the Impresario can now do a piece he's always dreamed of, in this case Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias.This new libretto was written by Josh Shaw.

Poulenc's opera, whose title translates as The Breasts of Tirésias, is an absurdist, surrealist piece from 1945. The gender bending plot starts with a housewife (Thérèse) who is sick of doing chores and serving her husband. So, she removes her breasts (two balloons) and becomes a man which leads to her husband taking on the role of the woman and having to produce babies by himself,which he does, only too well (40,049 children in a single day!). Based on a play by Guillaume Apollinaire written in part to encourage the French to "re-populate" their country after World War I, it ostensibly attempted to do the same for post-World War II France.        

"We found the perfect person to realize these wildly animated works," said Preisser. "Eric Pinder, who we've been fortunate to work with many times, is our stage director.It is his genius that is driving these productions. He has adapted the script for The Impresario to fit perfectly into the current cultural wave we live in while tipping a hat to the advent of Opera Orlando."

All performers will assume roles in both operas.

"The Impresario" will be sung in English and "Les Mamelles de Tirésias" will be performed in its original French. Maestro Sakir will conduct members of the Orlando Philharmonic, the Opera Orlando Children's Chorus and the principal performers. English supertitles for both operas will be projected above the Jim & Alexis Pugh Theater’s stage.

Leading up to the performance Opera Orlando will be presenting a series of special programs entitled "Boisterous Beginnings” featuring presentations and performances including a pre-performance presentation before the operas at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.  Dates, times and details will be announced in an upcoming press release.

Baritone Gabriel Preisser will be seen as a mere Delivery Man in the Mozart and The Director and The Husband in the Poulenc. Preisser, recently listed as one of the “Emerging Artists of 2016” by the League of American Orchestras, has a resumé that includes over 40 operatic and musical theater roles including Lt. Gordon in Silent Night with Opera Philadelphia and Cincinnati Opera, Billy Bigelow in Carousel with Minnesota Orchestra, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with St Petersburg Opera, Harold Hill in The Music Man with Colorado Symphony, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Shreveport Opera, and Albert in Werther with Minnesota Opera. Opera News praised him for his “charismatic energy, and timbral allure” as The Husband in Les Mamelles de Tirésias with Opera Parallele.” The Stark Insider of San Francisco said “Preisser’s confident baritone anchors this piece, leaving the audience hanging on his every line.”

Soprano Julia Foster plays the Opera Diva Everly Shrills in the Mozart and Thérèse in the Poulenc. She has recently portrayed Beth in Adamo’s Little Women, Vitige in Handel’s Flavio, and Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.  Ms. Foster’s recent concert engagements have included Brahms’Requiem, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Bach’s Mass in B Minor. Foster also serves as President of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and has been on voice faculty at Rollins College for the past 4 years. 

Soprano Bridgette Gan is the up-and-coming Bethany Squeals in the Mozart and several roles in the Poulenc. Ms. Gan recently made a last minute acclaimed debut as Marie in Palm Beach Opera’s 2015 production of Le Fille du Régiment where critics called her performance “a tour de-force…vocally beautiful and consistent with a rich tone and sparkling high notes.” She also realized her main stage debut with Santa Fe Opera creating the role of Lila in their acclaimed world premiere of "Cold Mountain." 

Tenor Alex Mansoori plays the flamboyant Mr. Deep-Pockets in the Mozart and various roles in the Poulenc. His performances have been hailed as “solid and convincing” and “smartly characterized” (New York Times). Specializing in character roles, Mr. Mansoori has a varied repertoire of more than 40 roles ranging from Mozart to Sondheim including Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro (Santa Fe Opera), Monostatos in The Magic Flute (Chicago Opera Theatre), Flute in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Seattle Opera), Remendado in Carmen (Aspen Music Festival), and the Stage Manager in the New York premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town (The Juilliard School).

Bass Baritone Andrew Emery is the impresario's assistant Buff and Presto in the Poulenc.  Mr. Emery has enjoyed a diverse performance career from appearing at Walt Disney World resort's Beauty and the Beast through Actor's Equity to national performances and recordings with the New York Philharmonic at the Lincoln Center under conductor Kurt Mazur. Currently, Mr. Emery is part of the emerging artist program with St Petersburg Opera Company and the Opera Tampa Singers.                       

Eric Pinder serves as Stage Director and Script adapter for Opera Orlando’s double bill. Mr. Pinder has been assistant director for productions of Rigoletto and Carmen for the former Orlando Opera and has directed several productions for Florida Opera Theatre (now Opera Orlando) including Gianni Schicchi, The Telephone, The Old Maid and The Thief, Trouble In Tahiti, and Peter Brook's Tragedie de Carmen.  Eric received a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Michigan State University and an M.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University Of Florida. A fixture of the local theatrical scene, Eric has performed in 18 of the 25 Orlando Fringe Festivals. He wrote five shows for the Fringe including the critically acclaimed Driving Miss Cherry Blossom and Skip Peril. He has also appeared at Orlando Shakes and Mad Cow Theatre and currently serves as Director In Residence for Opera Orlando,

Michael Sakir serves as Conductor and Music Director for this production.  He recently made his guest conducting debuts with Eugene Opera in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Hubbard Hall Opera Theater in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Upcoming he returns to Des Moines Metro Opera as conductor for Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei.  Last season, Mr. Sakir made his conducting debut at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music for the fully-staged Chicago premiere of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking (for which he was awarded 3rd Place in the 2015 American Prize in Conducting: Opera Division). Mr. Sakir has held chorus master, assistant conductor, and coach positions for over two dozen productions with Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Boston. He holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The Boston Conservatory.      


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