ICO's Second Annual Opera Concert in Franklin Park coming August 16
Join Island City Opera on August 16, 2015 at 2pm in Alameda's picturesque Franklin Park for our Second Annual Opera Concert.
Bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy the beautiful weather and the beautiful music together for a wonderful afternoon.
Season tickets for Island City Opera's 2016 opera series at the Alameda Elks Lodge ballroom will be on sale.
Thank you San Francisco Classical Voice...
...and Robert Commanday
It was remarkable enough that an opera company has popped up in Alameda (pop.70,000), a city not known for generating classical musical activity. How much more surprising when the new Island City Opera made a hit of its unusual double bill, Puccini’s tragedy “Il Tabarro” and Rossini’s farce “Il Signor Bruschino.” It happened last Friday and Sunday.
The gem of a venue was another surprise, a large box of a room with a dome in its roof in the Elks’ Club, next door to the Alameda City Hall (talk about centrally located!). The acoustics were so good, for the first time in my operatic life, I could hear every word of the Italian (it helped that the small orchestra was over on the side, and yes, there were Supertitles).
The productions were satisfactorily tucked up on the small stage. Puccini’s drama of the bargemaster Michele (warm-voiced baritone Michael Rogers), discovering the lover of his wife Georgetta bright tone, keen focused soprano, Eileen Meredith, and strangling him (C. Michael Belle, a large man with fine, driven tenor) played out intensely. Alix Jerinic, mezzo soprano, did an excellent turn as the rag-picker La Frugola.
All that most folk know of “Il Signor Bruschino” is the often-played overture, the one with six tappings of the bows as a recurrent motif. (the overture gave the few strings in conductor Shahani’s little band more trouble than the later music). The piece is a howler about little Florville (tenor Darron Flagg) outwitting Gaudenzio Strappapuppole, the father of Sophia to win the striking bombshell, Kelly Britt, by pretending to be the son of Bruschino, driven half crazy by the masquerade. Which inspired Bojan Knezevic in a stellar performance as Bruschino, to make a run at the kingdom of the late great baritone buffissimo Renato Capecchi. Britt, in figure-hugging short dress, was the other constellation, knocking the spots off the coloratura aria, “Ah! donate il caro sposo.” Branislav Radakovic, in handsome, generous baritone, was the comical hotel keeper, and Kiril Havezov, the Gaudenzio, lively and comedic, in a buffo bass, but with pitch problems.
One other thing and a first. A maid who kept popping in to clear up the curlicues of the plot, singing as well as speaking in English, turned out to be the very ingenious stage director Erin Neff, and when did a stage director ever play on the opera stage? It will happen again Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
...and Jeffrey Smith
IL TABARRO and MR BRUSCHINO
Groucho Marx once asked his cab driver, “Am I late for the opera?” When the driver assured him that he was on time; Groucho responded, “In that case, drive around the block again.” Perhaps Groucho had tickets to Margaret Dumont performing a Teutonic epic by Wagner. Groucho was certainly NOT anticipating the Island City Opera’s performance of LOVE: A TRAGEDY & A COMEDY at the Elks Club of Alameda.
Their current offering, LOVE, is a double feature: the erotically charged IL TABARRO by Giacomo Puccini coupled with the frothy, farcical and hysterical MR BRUSHINO by Gioachino Rossini.
Alameda’s First Lady of Opera, Soprano Eileen Meredith, sings the tragic Giorgetta of IL TABARRO with a rousing passion commensurate to her character’s unquenchable desire. Meredith’s performance is a perfect match for the powerful melodies representing the human longing for passion; she sings with mellifluous technical precision yet unleashes the full bodied romantic abandonment of the wanton hot blooded Giorgetta.
Ms Meredith, no stranger to Bay Area Opera Houses, has performed with the San Francisco Opera, West Edge Opera, Livermore Valley Opera, Opera San Jose and Verismo Opera.
Kelly Britt is the vivacious center piece in the riotous SIGNOR BRUSCHINO; she registers a dazzling performance as Sophia. Bojan Knezevic in the title role of Mister Bruschino is a master of visual and physical comedy; his comic range extends from Jim Carey all the way back to Charlie Chaplin: he is pure comic genius with a great operatic voice to match--not to be missed.
A magnificent Orchestra under the directorship of Maestro Michael Shahani brings an ocean of sound to the Elks Hall.
The City of Alameda harbors much treasure: its architecture, cultural diversity, expansive beaches and parks, and superlative nocturnal promenades like Webster and Park Streets. Now a new jewel has emerged at the apex of the Alameda tiara: the Island City Opera.
While the economy might never return to its pre-2008 profligate vibrancy, it is no small consolation that the performing arts are alive and well in Alameda; perhaps such civic performances are the real measure of quality of life—watching and listening to these classic operas performed in Alameda, one would think so.
Robert Ashens conducts Lucia di Lammermooor
San Francisco-based musician, Robert Ashens, is Music Director and Conductor of Island City Opera’s production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Robert's distinguished career as pianist and conductor has brought him to many world capitols. He is Artistic Director / co-founder of West Coast Opera (Opera Oregon). He recently debuted with Berkeley, Anchorage and Golden Gate Opera companies and he co-founded the Johann Strauss Society of America..
Robert also conducted Il Trovatore for Virago Theatre. The success of that production prompted the launch of Island City Opera.
The Maestro also conducts ballet and symphonic works with companies internationally. This summer he returns to Eugene for Sound of Music (Shedd Institute’s OFAM), Anchorage (with Eugene Ballet’s Nutcracker) and Anchorage Opera’s Macbeth and Sound of Music.
Maestro Ashens has toured nationally as conductor with the Broadway companies of A Chorus Line and Jesus Christ Superstar, premiered many new works of both Broadway and Opera and maintains a monthly program, "West Coast Opera Presents Opera Night at Servino’s" in Tiburon.
With a repertoire of over one hundred operas, he has conducted to great acclaim for regional opera companies throughout the United States and in many major cities of Europe especially in Italy. He has also accompanied many opera luminaries in concert. Ashens is in constant demand as a lecturer, accompanist and program director for concerts and recitals nationwide.
Blacksmith Cellars featured wine for Opening Night 'Promotore' table seating
Island City Opera is delighted to feature Blacksmith Cellars wines at each Friday evening performance, including Opening Night of Lucia di Lammermoor on Friday, January 16th at 7:30pm. Every Friday evening performance features 'Promotore' Table seating with food and drinks including Blacksmith Cellars wine. Blacksmith Cellars has generously donated two bottles for each table.
"We are grateful to Matt Smith and Blacksmith Cellars for their support of Island City Opera", said Robert Boyd, a member of ICO's Board of Directors. "We'll match Matt's great artistry and craftsmanship in wine with great artistry and craftsmanship in our music. It will be a perfect complement to a great evening of entertainment."
Promotore table seating is limited to 5 tables for each performance. General admission seating is available for all performances.