TCO 2018-19 season features Puccini, Heggie and G&S

By George Basler

One of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most popular operettas and one of Giacomo Puccini’s most beloved operas will highlight Tri-Cities Opera’s 2018-2019 season.

Also featured will be a TCO premiere and the debut of a new venue for the company, General Director Susan S. Ashbaker said today (March 28) at a press conference at TCO’s Opera Center, 315 Clinton St., Binghamton. Two productions will be staged at The Forum, 236 Washington St., Binghamton; one will be staged at the Opera Center, and one at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, 44 Main St., Binghamton.

The season will open Oct. 14, with Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at The Forum. The cast includes Kasia Borowiec (Cio-Cio San), Jordan Schreiner (Pinkerton) and new resident artist Tesia Kwarteng (Suzuki); all are making their role debuts. The production will be conducted by Andrew Altenbach, making his TCO debut, and directed by Johnathon Pape who last directed Sweeney Todd for TCO. The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

The other three productions are:

  • Suor Angelica, also by Puccini, Nov. 9, 11, 16 and 18 at Trinity;
  • Three Decembers by Jake Heggie, Feb. 22 and 24 and March 1 and 3, 2019, at the Opera Center;
  • H.M.S. Pinafore by Wm. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, April 28 at The Forum.

Meroë Khalia Adeeb (last fall’s Mimi in La Boheme) is returning to TCO to make her role debut as Suor Angelica; the Principessa will be sung by Kwarteng. The cast also includes two new resident artists, Lianne Aharony (Suor Genovieffa) and Gina Moscato (Suor Dolcina). Cara Consilvio, who staged Hansel and Gretel and Glory Denied for TCO, will direct.

To round out the program, the one-act opera will be supplemented by an organ selection by Tim Smith, organist and music director at Trinity, and performances by Aharony (W.A. Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate) and Moscato (Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs).

Ashbaker said “the beautiful church interior proved a perfect setting for the opera,” which is considered an answer to Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Kwarteng (Maddie) and Aharony (Bea) will return in Heggie’s chamber opera, based on a script by Terrence McNally with a libretto by Gene Scheer. This is the first time TCO has presented the 2008 work.

Director James Kenon Mitchell and conductor Braden Toan will return to TCO for the show. Mitchell directed the double bill of Brettl Lieder and L’Heure Espagnole and is staging next month’s Tragedy of Carmen. Toan conducted Sweeney Todd and Hydrogen Jukebox.

The Pinafore cast includes Jake Stamatis (Sir Joseph Porter), Moscato (Josephine) and Kwarteng (Little Buttercup). Joshua Horsch (Glory Denied) will return as conductor.  Gary Briggle, a nationally renowned expert in the Savoy operettas of Gilbert & Sullivan, will make his TCO debut as director. He studied and worked with John Reed, a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company.

Ashbaker said she hopes the production will highlight the work of Gilbert & Sullivan and therefore bring people to the local G&S productions that are staged annually by the Summer Savoyards.

TCO was founded in 1949 by Peyton Hibbitt and the late Carmen Savoca. As it prepares for its 70th season, the company remains an active force in the community, Ashbaker said.

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