July 6, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Cohn Dutcher Associates
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2007 CARAMOOR INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL
BEL CANTO AT CARAMOOR
OPENS 10TH ANNIVERSARY
PETITE MESSE SOLENNELLE
July 8 at 4:30 pm
Julianna Di Giacomo; Laura Vlasak Nolen; Barry Banks; Daniel Mobbs;
Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists; Will Crutchfiled, conductor
Katonah, New York - Caramoor's renowned Bel Canto at Caramoor, under the leadership of DIrector of Opera Will Crutchfield, opens is 10th anniversary seaon on Sunday July 8,with Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. The performance will use Rossini's original scoring for an ensemble of solo voices and three keyboard instruments, and begins at 4:30 pm in the Venetian Theater. The featured soloist will be soprano Julianna Di Giacomo, mezzo-soprano Laura Vlasak Nolen, tenor Barry Banks, bass-baritone Daniel Mobbs; the Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists; and Eric Malson, Rachelle Jonck and Lucy Yates, keyboards.
Rossini mystified the operatic world by retiring from the theater at the height of his fame in 1829, pver three decades before his death. But whatever his reasons, it was not because he had run out of musical inspiration: Decades later, living the high life of an eminence grise in Paris, he again took up his pen and composed his final masterpiece in 1864, an astonishing 35 years after his last opera. Petite Messe Solennelle is a Mass of haunting beauty and intense expressiveness. It blends operatic fervor with an unsuspected mastery of counterpoint and deep spirituality.
Tickets are $45.00, $35.00, $25.00 and $15.00 and are available online at www.caramoor.org or by calling 914.232.1252. Al Fresco tickets are available at $9 each for this concert and present an ideal opportunity for families to enjoy the performance from Caramoor's magnificent picnic grounds.
The 10th anniversary season of Bel Canto at Caramoor is made possible, in part, by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is located at 149 Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah, New York.
Ten Years of Bel Canto
The Bel Canto at Caramoor program began in 1997 with Rossini's La Donna del Lago, starring Vivica Genaux, Marguerite Krull, Bruce Fowler and Matthew Chellis. At its inception, diva Marilyn Horne predicted success: "These singers are very lucky to have Will Crutchfield," she told the press before summer festival. The New York Times quickly agreed, praising "a palpable conviction that Rossini's serious operas are not static vehicles for elaborate vocal display, but elegant and humane musical dramas" in its review of the opening. The Wall Street Journal reported in 1997, "Mr. Crutchfield brought his sure sense of bel canto style to bear upon Lucrezia Borgia, and the semi-staged concert version at Caramoor's Venetian Theater was both delightful and thought-provoking...its dark (yes, Verdian) intensity is certainly a revelation." The Financial Times added its praise following 1999's La Gazza Ladra, lauding the virtuosic young cast and hailing Crutchfield's style as "a fine balance of bravada, intensity, sensitivity and scholarly savior-faire."
Ever since, growing ranks of critics from the national and international press have maintained that consensus, and capacity audiences have filled Caramoor's 1700-seat Venetian Theatre. The summer productions have included three operas each by Bellini and Rossini, two each by Donizetti and Verdi, and individual works by Handel, Gluck, Francesco Conti and Pauline Viardot, along with a wide range of concerts.
Meanwhile a broad repertory has been performed with young artists in the intimate Music Room, ranging from a cycle of the Mozart Da Ponte operas to Verdi's early comedy Un Giorno di Regno. The prominent young singers tapped early by Caramoor and Crutchfield are too numerous to name, but a few of them include - besides the artists already mentioned - Maria Zifchak, Indra Thomas, Frank Porretta, Kate Aldrich, Daniel Mobbs, Kenneth Tarver, Nancy Fabiola Herrera, Krisztina Szabo, Yeghishe Manucharyan, John Osborn, Georgia Jarman and Alexandra Deshorties. Established artists like Ewa Podles , June Anderson and Sumi Jo have been added to the mix after Crutchfield worked with them in other theaters, and a young artists program added in 1999 has since grown into the Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists, a prestigious full-scale training program that has touched the lives of dozens of singers. The New York Times has called the series "essential," and ten years of achievement show why: Caramoor is now recognized as a major international center for the interpretation of this important repertory and the development of the singers it requires.
About the Artists
Will Crutchfield, Caramoor Director of Opera
Will Crutchfield spent his teens as a vocal coach and rehearsal pianist, made his name as a writer and musicologist in the mid-1980's (becoming the youngest music critic in the history of The New York Times), and returned to his theater roots in the mid-1990's to conduct opera. After initial conducting successes with productions in small companies and conservatories, Crutchfield was named to two positions: Director of Opera for the Caramoor International Music Festival (1997-present) and Music Director of the Opera de Colombia in Bogota (1999-2005). At these two theaters he built his style, which the Financial Times called "a fine balance of bravado, intensity, sensitivity and scholarly savoir-faire," in cycles of standard repertory classics as well as pioneering revivals of less familiar works.
Crutchfield has accepted guest engagements in several theaters at home and abroad, including The Canadian Opera Company (Tancredi with Ewa Podles ), The Washington Opera (Giulio Cesare with Hei-Kyung Hong), The Minnesota Opera (I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Sumi Jo and Vivica Genaux; La Traviata with Judith Howarth), the Baltimore Opera (La Cenerentola and Werner Herzog's production of Die ZauberflÃ¶te), Florida Grand Opera (Don Pasquale), L'OpÃ©ra FranÃ§ais de New York (Gluck's PÃ©lÃ©rins de la MÃ¨cque), the Mark Morris Dance Group (Dido and Aeneas), Wolf Trap Opera (La Finta Giardiniera), the State Theatre Pretoria (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and the Orquesta Filarmonica de la Gran Canaria (Norma).
In reviews of the celebrated Caramoor revivals - alongside praise for the musical interpretation - the press has consistently recognized the qualities of the rare operas themselves more positively than has been the case in productions elsewhere. The New York Times, reviewing the production of La Donna del Lago that inaugurated the series, discerned "a palpable conviction that Rossin's serious operas are not static vehicles for elaborate vocal display, but elegant and humane musical dramas." According to The Wall Street Journal, "Mr. Crutchfield brought his sure sense of bel canto style to bear upon Lucrezia Borgia, and the semi-staged concert version at Caramoor's Venetian Theater was both delightful and thought-provoking." Subsequent revivals of Bellini's Il Pirata, Rossini's La Gazza Ladra and Otello, Handel's Deidamia, Gluck's Paride ed Elena and Donizetti's Ã‰lisabeth, a lost opera whose autograph manuscript Crutchfield himself discovered and reconstructed have been highly acclaimed. Most recently Caramoor presented the first American performance of Bellini's La Sonnambula in the new Ricordi critical edition and the composer's original keys and an uncut La Traviata based on period performance practice.
Crutchfield has also been involved in training the next generation of singers. He prefers to work repeatedly with young artists he believes in so that the process can develop from production to production. He served on the faculties of all three New York conservatories (Juilliard, Manhattan and Mannes) and he continues to devote the summer months to extensive training programs at Caramoor. Some of the singers with whose debuts and early careers he has been associated include: Vivica Genaux, Nancy Herrera, Marguerite Krull, Bruce Fowler, Daniel Mobbs, Georgia Jarman, Patricia Risley, Yegishe Manucharyan, Olga Makarina, Kate Aldrich and Alexandra Deshorties. An often-noted component of Crutchfield's research, as of his practical work with singers, has been the recovery and development of the art of ornamental improvisation.
Barry Banks, tenor
Barry Banks, who appeared at Caramoor last summer as Arturo in I Puritani and will be seen later this summer in Linda di Chamounix, has established himself as one of today's finest interpreters of the bel canto repertoire. He is much in demand on the international opera platform performing at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, The Metropolitan Opera, OpÃ©ra National de Paris, English National Opera, Chatelet, Salzburg Festival, La Monnaie, The Santa Fe Opera, Teatro Communale di Bologna and Oper Frankfurt amongst others. His roles include: Lindoro (L'Italiana in Algeri); Nemorino (L'Elisir d'amore); Don Ramiro (La cenerentola); Oreste (Ermione); Tom Rakewell; Tamino (Die ZauberflÃ¶te); Don Narciso (Il turco in Italia); Belfiore & Libenskof (Il viaggio a Reims); Edgardo (Lucia di Lammermoor); L'Astrologue (Le coq d'or) and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni).
Opera highlights this season include Don Ramiro and Ernesto (Don Pasquale) at The Metropolitan Opera and The Love for Three Oranges at OpÃ©ra National de Paris. In concert he will be guest soloist for the Swedish Chamber Orchestra's New Year concerts and will appear with the HallÃ© conducted by Mark Elder.
Julianna Di Giacomo, soprano
Julianna Di Giacomo, who will also be seen in this summer's Bel Canto at Caramoor performances of Il Trovatore, made a triumphant New York City Opera debut in the 2006-07 as Fiordiligi in the new Jonathan Miller production of Cosi fan tutte, conducted by Julius Rudel. She also appeared in NYCO's Opera for All Gala, singing the trio from Cosi fan tutte. She had joined the roster of City Opera in 2005-06 covering Jenny in The Mines of Sulphur and the title role of Lysistrata. Additionally she sang her first Violetta in La Traviata at the Redlands Bowl in Los Angeles. Engagements for 2006-07 include the Metropolitan Opera as Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto, First Lady in The Magic Flute and in Suor Angelica.
Ms. Di Giacomo has previously covered Fiora in L'amore dei Tre Re for Opera Orchestra of New York and appeared with the Nilas Martins Dance Company and members of the New York City Ballet singing Puccini arias and songs.
While working with Los Angeles Opera, Ms. Di Giacomo sang in Peter Grimes and covered the roles of the High Priestess in Aida and the Page in Lohengrin, in addition to singing many concerts and recitals for the company. Also in Los Angeles, she sang the roles of Mimi in La Boheme, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, First Lady in The Magic Flute, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Suor Genevieffa in Suor Angelica and covered Alice Ford in Falstaff with UCLA Opera.
Rachelle Jonck, piano
Rachelle Jonck received her musical training at the Conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. After completing her studies, she joined Cape Town Opera as rehearsal pianist and vocal coach. In 1993 she moved to Pretoria as chorus master and assistant conductor at the State Theater Opera. She was awarded a FNB/Vita award for her contribution to opera in South Africa and in 1998 she received the Nederburg Opera Prize - South Africa's premier opera award. In 1998 Rachelle moved to New York City as assistant conductor of Bel Canto at Caramoor - a position she still holds. In addition to regular concerts at the Caramoor Festival, Rachelle's recital appearances in the United States include Weill Recital Hall, the Bard Festival, the Monadnock Music Festival (Peterborough, NH), Music Mountain (Falls Village, CT), Van Cliburn Concerts (Fort Worth, TX), National Gallery Recitals (Washington, DC), Art Song of Williamsburg (VA) and the Dame Myra Hess broadcast concert series (Chicago, IL).
Eric Malson, piano
Eric Malson is an active soloist, recitalist and chamber musician whose activities have taken him throughout North America and Europe. He has appeared as soloist with the North Carolina Symphony, Columbus (Ohio) Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa, and Gulbenkian Foundation orchestras. A true collaborative artist, Mr. Malson has partnered instrumentalists and vocalists in concert at the Ravinia, Tanglewood, Caramoor, Chautauqua, Evora (Portugal) and Wexford (Ireland) festivals. A former resident of Portugal, he presented the Portuguese premieres of Hummel's Piano Concerto in A-flat Major, Op. 113, Dohnanyi's Sextet, Op. 37, and Roger Sessions' First Piano Sonata, to name a few. Mr. Malson has served on the musical staffs of Seattle Opera, BÃ¼hnen der Stadt KÃ¶ln, Opera Zuid (Netherlands), Theater der Stadt Heidelberg, Dallas Opera and Atlanta Opera. In addition to serving on both the faculties of Juilliard and Mannes College of Music, he has served as official accompanist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions, numerous other vocal and instrumental competitions, and has appeared in recital with, among others, soprano Deborah Voigt, baritone Chistophoren Nomura, and tenor Thomas Studebaker.
Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone
The young American baritone Daniel Mobbs, who will also be seen in this summer's Bel Canto at Caramoor performances of Il Trovatore, has won praise on both sides of the Atlantic for his fine singing and lively stage portrayals. Mr. Mobbs began his 2005-06 season with a return to NYCO as Lord Sydney in Il Viaggio a Reims, and continued with Opera Grand Rapids as Ping in Turandot and Carnegie Hall where he sang Frederick in Lakme with Opera Orchestra of New York. He also sang his first Leporello in Don Giovanni with Portland Opera and Taddeo to Vivica Genaux's Isabella in L'Italiana in Algeri with Anchorage Opera. Additional engagements included Raphael/Adam in Haydn's Creation with Huntsville Symphony and Giorgio in I Puritani, and Orbazzano to Ewa Podles' Tancredi with Caramoor International Music Festival.
In 2007 he returned to NYCO as Douglas in La Donna del Lago and as Marcello in La Boheme in addition to singing in the Rossini Otello with Opera Orchestra of New York. He also appeared as Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Connecticut Grand Opera and Marcello with New Orleans Opera. He makes his Florida Grand Opera debut in 2007-08 as Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte.
Laura Vlasak Nolen, mezzo-soprano
Recently hailed by the Financial Times for her "large and lush mezzo-soprano," Texas native Laura Vlasak Nolen has quickly established herself on the operatic scene. Ms. Nolen was recently honored by New York City Opera with the Richard F. Gold Career Grant which is awarded to a young American singer who appears destined for a major career. Ms. Nolen's 2006-07 season included the role of Malcolm in New York City Opera's production of La donna del lago, and an engagement with the Opera Orchestra of New York in their production of Otello. In concert she appeared as soloist at Avery Fisher Hall with the Richard Tucker Foundation under Asher Fisch conducting members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, in Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Danbury Symphony, and in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Westfield Symphony. In the 2007-08 season, she returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Waltraute in Die WalkÃ¼re.
Ms. Nolen made her professional debut singing Third Lady in Die ZauberflÃ¶te at Cleveland Opera - a role which she later reprised in her debut with Dallas Opera. Other past operatic highlights include engagements with the Metropolitan Opera for its productions of the world premiere opera An American Tragedy and Die WalkÃ¼re which toured in Japan. She made her debut at New York City Opera in 2005-06 singing SÃ©lysette in Ariane et Barbe-Bleue which she later recorded with the BBC Symphony under the baton of Leon Botstein. Ms. Nolen has also sung the title role in Opera Theater of Connecticut's production of Giulio Cesare, Fanny in Strauss' Intermezzo with the Sante Fe Opera, Eustazio in Hande's Rinaldo with Berkshire Opera, and Enrichetta in I Puritani and Isaura in Tancredi, both with the Caramoor Festival. Ms. Nolen has participated in the Renata Scotto Opera Academy at the Music Conservatory of Westchester. She will also be seen in this summer's Bel Canto at Caramoor performances of Il Trovatore.
Lucy Yates, organ
Lucy Yates' piano and harpsichord playing have taken her throughout North and South America and Europe in orchestral and chamber music. She is also active as a coach and vocal accompanist. As a soprano she has been a featured guest of numerous American and Italian houses and of major festivals including Spoleto, Ravinia, and Aldeburgh. She has collaborated with such conductors, composers and directors as PlÃ¡cido Domingo, Gian Carlo Menotti and Franco Zeffirelli. Miss Yates' hands and voice are equally sought after in very old and very new music. This season she recorded new works of Armand Qualliotine with the Prague Radio Symphony under Julius Williams and performed with the Lumen New Music Ensemble. She was heard twice last year at Symphony Space, playing on the "Masters of Modern American Art Song" program and singing in Tom Cipullo's Glory Denied with the Center for Contemporary Opera. She was also heard twice at Saint John the Divine, with Frederick Renz and the New York Ensemble for Early Music and again under the baton of Glen Cortese in the annual Concert for Peace. Other recent appearances include the Bitter End, Kalvos and Damian's New Music Bazaar, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and the Colony at Woodstock. From 2000-2005 she served as music director and principal pianist for the New York vocal quintet ArtSong Nouveau, with whom she recently performed with Carly Simon at the Bard Festival.
Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists
The Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists, a hand-picked ensemble of future bel canto stars, provide the understudies and secondary roles in the operas, as well as sing in the Rossini concert. They receive intensive training in 19th century performance practice from Caramoor's music staff and guest faculty.
Caramoor is the legacy of Walter and Lucie Rosen, who built the great house and filled it with their treasures. Walter Rosen was the master planner for the Caramoor estate, bringing to reality his dream of creating a place to entertain friends from around the world. Their musical evenings were the seeds of the International Music Festival today. Realizing the pleasure their friends took in the beauty of Caramoor - the house with its art collection; the gardens; and the musical programs on summer evenings - the Rosens established a Foundation to open Caramoor to the public in perpetuity.
Lucie Rosen survived her husband by seventeen years. During those years, she expanded the Music Festival: the Spanish Courtyard was used as a setting for musical events, as it is today. Under her direction, the great stage of the Venetian Theater was built.
Caramoor is a Garden of Great Music. "We invite people to come early, explore our beautiful grounds, take a tour of the House Museum, visit our gift shop, enjoy a pre-concert picnic and discover beautiful music in a relaxed setting," advises Paul Rosenblum, Caramoor's Managing Director. With its unique heritage, Caramoor remains a place where magical summer days and nights are shared and enjoyed by thousands. "Caramoor is the loveliest Festival of them all." - The New York Times
Art and Gardens
Concerts take place in two outdoor theaters - the large, acoustically superb Venetian Theater, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard. Caramoor is more than just music - there is beauty at every turn. The House Museum, the former summer home of Caramoor's founders, Lucie and Walter Rosen, contains a vast collection of Renaissance, 18th-century and Eastern art objects - furniture, tapestries, sculpture, paintings, textiles, porcelain and jade. There are entire rooms that were imported from European palaces and villas. In fact, Caramoor is one of just five mansions in the country that incorporate entire rooms into its collection, twenty of which are open to the public. On Thursdays and Fridays, Afternoon Tea is served in the Summer Dining Room, overlooking the charming Spanish Courtyard.
Caramoor's gardens are also well worth the visit. Nine unique perennial gardens - including a Sense Circle for the visually handicapped, a Butterfly Garden, a Medieval Mount and two gardens whose special characteristics are enjoyed primarily at night - may be seen on a guided tour or on one's own.
Guided tours of the House Museum are provided from Wednesday through Sunday, 1-4 p.m., with the last tour at 3 p.m. On Saturdays during the Festival, tours are given from 1-5 p.m., with the last tour at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 (children 16 and under free).
Getting to Caramoor
Caramoor is easy to get to by car, mass transportation or the Caramoor Caravan.
From Manhattan, take the Caramoor Caravan and ride comfortably in a luxurious, air-conditioned coach. Round trip service is $22 and is available for all Saturday and Sunday performances during the Festival, including the Sunday, July 8 Bel Canto at Caramoor performance of Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. The Caravan departs from the Port Authority Bus Terminal and Upper West Side and East Side locations. Call the Box Office (914-232-1252) for further information and reservations.
By train, take the Harlem Division of the Metro-North Railroad to Katonah, New York. Taxi service from the station to Caramoor (5 minutes away) is available.
By car from the West Side of Manhattan and New Jersey, take the Saw Mill River Parkway north to Katonah. Exit at Route 35/Cross River. Turn right, and at the first traffic light make a right turn onto Route 22 south. Travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road. Follow the signs to Caramoor. (For detailed directions call 914.232.5035 and press 2, or online at caramoor.org).
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts is located at 149 Girdle Ridge Road, Katonah, New York.
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Bel Canto at Caramoor
July 8 Petite Messe Solennelle
Sunday, 4:30 pm by Gioachino Rossini
Venetian Theater Julianna Di Giacomo, soprano
$45, $35 Laura Vlasak Nolen, mezzo-soprano
$25, $15 Barry Banks, tenor
Al fresco: Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone
$9 Caramoor Bel Canto Young Artists
Eric Malson, Rachelle Jonck and Lucy Yates, keyboards
Will Crutchfield, conductor
Tickets may be ordered by calling the Box Office at 914.232.1252 or online at caramoor.org.