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RPO Brings Taste of Opera to Eastman Theatre for Casual Sunday Matinee

December 22, 2006

RPO and vocal soloists featured in opera overtures, excerpts and arias

Rochester, NY – The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is set to transform the Eastman Theatre into an opera stage for its next Casual Sunday Matinee Series concert, An Afternoon at the Opera on Sunday, January 14 at 2:00 p.m.  Benton Hess, Distinguished Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music will conduct the RPO, joined by acclaimed soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams.  The concert also will highlight the RPO’s Associate Concertmaster Wilfredo Degláns and selected graduate voice students from the Eastman School.  Ticketholders are invited to attend a Bagel Brunch at 12.30 p.m. at the Atrium at Miller Center with bagels and coffee generously provided by Bruegger’s Bakeries.

The concert will offer a tantalizing variety of “tastes” from a “menu” of nine different operas including Bizet’s Carmen; Johann Strauss, Jr.’s Die Fledermaus; Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann; Mozart’s Così fan tutte; George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin among others.  Wilfredo Degláns will perform “Meditation,” the hauntingly beautiful violin solo from Massenet’s Thaïs.

Benton Hess has built an international reputation as a conductor, pianist, vocal coach, composer and pedagogue. A faculty member at the Eastman School since 2001 and Musical Director of the Eastman Opera Theater, he also is Co-Artistic Director of Mercury Opera Rochester and Musical Director of the Tacoma (WA) Opera.  Outside of the United States, Hess is conductor for both the Centro Studi Italiani Opera Festival in Urbania, Italy and the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams is known for her expressive and dramatic voice.  After her American operatic debut with the Atlanta Opera, she has gone on to perform and compete internationally. This season, Ms. Williams appears with Mercury Opera Rochester as Adalgisa in Norma.  Eastman soloists will be sopranos Kathryn Blomshield and Aubrie Willaert; mezzo-soprano Jennifer Berkebile and tenor Vernon DiCarlo.  Originally enrolled at Loyola University, Mr. DiCarlo came to the Eastman School as a result of Hurricane Katrina.  He stayed on as a master’s degree student in opera performance.

General admission tickets are $15; $12 for seniors, students, subscribers and donors, available online 24/7 at www.rpo.org, by phone (454-2100) and in person from the RPO Box Office, as well as at all Wegmans Video Departments.  RPO Box Office Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (non-concert Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.). Wegmans is open seven days a week. A convenience fee may apply. 

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in recent years.

The Casual Sunday Matinee Series is sponsored by the Democrat and Chronicle and Strong Health.  RPO performances are made possible in part with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; the State of New York; Monroe County; the City of Rochester; and American Airlines, the official airline of the RPO. 


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