January 2023 @ the gorgeous Kasser Theater at Montclair State Unviersity,
two full casts presented a double bill of fantastic opera, lead by conductor Kyle Ritenauer.
Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, and Buoso's Ghost by Michael Ching, featuring our amazing Schicchi, Seungchan Hong, went on both nights, which makes sense because he was hysterical and a champion. His professional cover, Steven Condy, was in the house cheering him on.
These two operas were the result of a semester long class called "Opera Workshop" where I was their acting professor/director. I was very supported by my colleagues in the room, musical director Victoria Schwartzman, assistant conductor, William Hobbs. For the first months they were assigned to learn the music, with weekly review, and then blocking began and away we went.
For January, I assembled a really stellar team to bring my Medieval concept to life- in the scrolling photos above you can see the original set drawing that we worked from as inspiration. My friends from NYU MFA design came on board to realize this elaborate concept- Heather Freedman, costumes, and Maamoun Tobbo, set.
This project was by far the largest budget I'd ever had to delegate- and I squeezed every dime's worth out of it! We had some very special guests on opening night- a great Q & A panel lead by Karen Driscoll: Maria Zouves, Sherrill Milnes and Fabrizio Melano.
I was extremely proud of all the students hard work- it was over double the usual turn out for the mainstage opera, and they were proud of themselves with all the excited applause at the end. There was some great acting up there- and the story was clear for even the non-opera viewers, which is something I really value, making opera accessible.
Special thank you to the head of John J. Cali School of Music: Anthony Mazzocchi, and to Beth Roberts and Lori McCann for bring me onboard for the journey.