On May 31, 2015, Island City Opera Executive Director Eileen Meredith announced the repertoire for the company's second season beginning with Verdi's first masterpiece, Rigoletto, on Friday, January 22nd 2016 conducted by Maestro Jonathan Khuner.
The first opera in Giuseppe Verdi’s career-defining “trilogy” that also included Il Trovatore and La Traviata, Rigoletto revolves around three main characters: a court jester, brilliant but twisted in body and soul; the sybaritic nobleman he serves; and the jester’s naïve teenage daughter who gets caught between them. It’s an exploration of love in all its aspects—parental, filial, romantic, and carnal. At the heart of this drama, Rigoletto's fatherly love for Gilda, makes this tragic story as heartrending today as when Victor Hugo wrote the play upon which it is based.,
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.
On March 4, 2016, Island City Opera will open Puccini's most popular opera, La Boheme.
Honest, soulful and beautiful. La Boheme may be the world's most renowned opera. The familiar tale of exuberant young bohemians in 19th-century Paris defines romance and their poverty and sad fate exemplify the most touching tragedy.
All performances will be held at the Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom, 2255 Santa Clara Avenue Alameda CA. Season subscriptions and individual tickets are on sale as of June 1, 2015.
ALAMEDA, Calif.—May 31, 2015— The Perforce Foundation, the Kathryn & Kenneth Weeman Family Fund and Rafael Ortiz joined forces to award a $10,000 Challenge Grant to Island City Opera in support of their 2016 Season General Fund. The award matches individual contributions of over $500 to ICO’s Anchor Society Fund and provides a bonus for achieving the $50,000 2016 Season General Fund target. more
Thank you San Francisco Classical Voice...
"Island City Opera Proves It's Worth"
"Eileen Meredith, an excellent singer, was Giorgetta."
"Erin Neff, a gifted actress, directed Signor Bruschino, sang the part of the maid, Marianna, and narrated important plot twists in English."
...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.
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?"
...and Jeffrey Smith
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.
Thank you to the Alameda Journal for coverage of Island City Opera's inaugural production, Donizetti's 'Lucia di Lammermoor'.
"I cannot resist a clever pitch, especially when it's grounded in royal history, even if very, very tenuously. Thus the word from Eileen Meredith's Island City Opera:
Did you ever wonder what those kings and queens you are studying in European History class did for fun on a Friday night? They went to the opera! When Tsar Nicholas I was in charge of Russia and Louis Philippe I was the King of the French, in 1835, they went to Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor.Now, you can go can too!
How clever. In just two months, the company — spinoff from Virago — will start its Lucia run, charging $5 for student tickets to open rehearsals."