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A double bill spanning the life and career of opera’s premier bel canto composer, framed in the world of quintessential Italian cinema. Donizetti's first work and one of his last, both of which he never lived to see performed, are presented together as an exploration of love, fantasy, and the blurry lines between them.
Il Pigmalione embodies the classic story from Ovid's metamorphosis that would go on to inspire Shaw, Lerner, and Lowe.
Pigmalione, concerned he'll never find true beauty and love, sculpts his own ideal of it. Christening her Galatea, he falls madly in love with the statue and prays to the Goddess of Love to bring his creation to life.
A love triangle plunges the lives of Rita, a tyrannical café owner, and Peppe, her timid husband, into chaos. When her first husband, Gaspar, returns to retrieve the presumed dead Rita's death certificate to allow himself to remarry. Peppe sees an opportunity to escape Rita's' constant slaps, and so the two men agree to a game. The question isn’t who gets to marry her—it’s who gets to leave.
Il Pigmalione was Donizetti’s first opera, written at the tender age of 19 while he attended university. By contrast, Rita premiered in 1860—12 years after his death. He never saw either of them performed. Rita libretto by Gustave Vaëz.
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer, known for his contributions to the bel canto style of opera during the early-mid 1800s. His influence, and that of contemporaries like Rossini, Bellini, and Handel, can be seen through the history of music and opera.
Donizetti was born in Bergamo, Italy, and tutored under composer Simon Mayr. Mayr offered Donizetti a full scholarship at his school, training the young composer before placing him at the Bologna Academy. It was there that his first one-act opera, Il Pigmalione, was written when Donizetti was 19. He would go on to write nearly 70 operas, the majority of which were produced and presented in Naples. He was a resident composer at the Teatro di San Carlo before moving to Paris with the promise of greater prestige. He passed away from illness in April 1848.
Soprano Angela Mortellaro captivates audiences wherever she performs. Observer said of her recent portrayals of Norina that she “dominated every scene she was in, from her opening scene and aria, beautifully sung with a lovely solid and secure sound and coloratura and high notes to burn….” Recent engagements include her role debut as Adina in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore with the Dorset Opera Festival in Dorset, England, Musetta in La Boheme and Despina in Cosí fan tutte with Sarasota Opera, Fiorilla in Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia with Opera Southwest, and a double bill premiering Stella Sung’s opera The Book Collector, performed as a prequel to a fully-staged Carmina Burana with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance. She also recently completed two exciting World Premier productions performing Doris Parker, wife of Charlie Parker, in Opera Philadelphia’s Charlie Parker’s Yardbird and Jocie in Minnesota Opera’s production of The Manchurian Candidate.
Amy Hutchison has championed new American opera throughout her career. Her recent production of Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt for Chicago Fringe Opera was hailed as “imaginative” and “striking… contemporary music theater.” She has directed William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge for Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, Washington National Opera and Portland Opera. Her collaboration with Ricky Ian Gordon and Stacey Tappan, Once I Was: Songs by Ricky Ian Gordon, was staged at the Chicago Cultural Center and recorded on the Blue Griffin label.
Her production of William Grant Still’s epic masterwork Troubled Island for South Shore Opera Company was named the number one classical music event of 2013 by Andrew Patner in the Chicago Sun-Times. Hutchison also directed: Joelle Lamarre’s The Violet Hour: A Voice of the Century, the Life of Leontyne Price; Jonathan Stinson’s The March: A Civil Rights Opera Project and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Dream Lovers and African Romances for South Shore Opera Company.
Miss Hutchison’s other local productions include Leo Fall’s Madame Pompadour for Chicago Folks Operetta, Ned Rorem’s Our Town for DePaul Opera Theatre and Brigadoon (Music By the Lake). Her productions nationwide include Il Matrimonio Segreto (Boston), Carmen (Kansas City, Milwaukee, Columbus), Turandot (Orlando), Don Pasquale (Indianapolis), La Traviata (Costa Mesa), and Help, Help, the Globolinks! (Madison).
She has served on the directing staffs of Lyric Opera of Chicago and Houston Grand Opera. She has staged the Maurice Sendak production of Hänsel und Gretel for Opernhaus Zürich, The Juilliard School (televised for PBS: Live from Lincoln Center) and for the Canadian, San Diego, Indianapolis, and Baltimore opera companies. As Associate Director, Hutchison has staged Porgy and Bess throughout the United States and globally, including Milan’s Teatro alla Scala, L’Opéra National de Paris, Teatro La Fenice, and opera houses in Düsseldorf, Lucca and Tokyo.
Ms. Hutchison is a member of the faculty of The Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, where she teaches Opera Workshop to Voice Performance majors.
A rising star in the younger generation of conductors, Francesco Milioto is forging a unique career as a versatile interpreter of both the operatic and orchestral repertoire. Praised for his energy and integrity on the podium, the Chicago Tribune has said, “Milioto presided with Bernsteinesque bravura".
Mr. Milioto enjoys relationships with a wide variety of ensembles, and cover/assistant conductor positions with several distinguished organizations. This season marked his successful debut with the Illinois Philharmonic, to which he will return this spring with an innovative student program featuring Beethoven’s fifth symphony. In November, Mr. Milioto stepped in at the last moment to conduct five education performances of Mozart’s Bastein and Bastienne with the Dallas Opera. He will also conduct the finals of the Emilio del Rosario International Piano Competition in Chicago this May. The 2017-18 season will see Mr. Milioto make his debut with the Arizona Opera conducting The Barber of Seville.
As a music director and guest conductor Mr. Milioto has thrived in Chicago and beyond. Over his fifteen years in Chicago he has claimed the title of Music Director to the New Millennium Orchestra, the Skokie Valley Symphony, the Highland Park Strings, Access Contemporary Music, and the Chicago Cultural Center Summer Opera. As a guest conductor he has amassed several critically acclaimed productions with Chicago Opera Theater and has collaborated with many professional local orchestras. His work with the New Millennium Orchestra and Chicago Opera Theater were each named to the Chicago Sun-Times list of the “10 best performances of the year". Mr. Milioto is particularly proud of his work with the New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago, which he co-found in 2005. The NMO had an incredible range of repertoire, playing everything from classical music and opera to collaborations with jazz and hip-hop artists. His highly acclaimed work over ten seasons with both the Highland Park Strings and Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra ranged from early music to the most contemporary works, and often featured world-renowned soloists. As Artistic Director/Conductor of Access Contemporary Music, Mr. Milioto led the brilliantly vibrant ensemble Palomar, which has been featured on the radio and in performances throughout the city and abroad. He has also conducted successful productions with Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Southwest, Elgin Opera, and Opera on the James.
As a cover/assistant conductor, Mr. Milioto has flourished under world-class mentorship. He is currently in his fourth season at Lyric Opera of Chicago where he will work on productions of The Magic Flute and Eugene Onegin. Mr. Milioto has been fortunate enough to work closely with Sir Andrew Davis, and other luminaries, on several operas and concerts. Later this season Mr. Milioto returns to his hometown of Toronto where he will assist on a production of Tosca with the Canadian Opera Company. This summer will mark his third with The Santa Fe Opera, where he will work closely with Emmanuel Villaume on Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Golden Cockerel. Following last summer’s success in Santa Fe with La Fanciulla del West, Maestro Villaume invited Mr. Milioto to assist him on the Dallas Opera’s revival of Moby Dick earlier this season. For 10 seasons Mr. Milioto worked with the Ravinia Festival as an assistant conductor, pianist, vocal coach and prompter being involved in over a dozen operas, and many concerts with such artists as Daniel Barenboim and James Conlon.
Puerto Rican tenor Javier Abreu sets himself apart with his energetic performances and commanding stage presence. Praised by Opera News as a “consistently lyric high tenor,” Abreu has wowed audiences all over the world in the baroque, bel canto, and contemporary repertoire.
During the 2016-17 season, he returns to American Lyric Theater for the roles of Steve Todd/Arnold Murray in the workshop of The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing at Merkin Hall. He also returns to Florida Grand Opera to reprise Pepe in Before Night Falls, a role he created with Fort Worth Opera, the premiering recording of which was released in 2010 with Albany Records.
A champion of contemporary opera, Mr. Abreu premiered the roles of Castleman in The Long Walk with Opera Saratoga, Padre Rufiano in The Inspector with Wolf Trap Opera, Pozolero in La Reina with American Lyric Theater and Prototype, and Enano de Salnés in La cabeza del bautista with Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona. Additionally, he performed Arcadio in Florencia en el Amazonas with Nashville Opera, The Cat in the North American premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio with Minnesota Opera, and Molqi in a special alumni performance of The Death of Klinghoffer with The Juilliard Orchestra conducted by John Adams.
Mr. Abreu’s many opera credits include appearances with Atlanta Opera, Opera de Oviedo, Theater Basel, Arizona Opera, Teatro Municipal de Chile, Austin Opera, The New Israeli Opera, Stuttgart Staatsoper, Opera Omaha, Virginia Opera, New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Lismore Music Festival in Ireland, Teatro Arriaga in Spain, Central City Opera, Knoxville Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and Bard Summerscape, to name a few. His roles with these companies include Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri, Ory in Le comte Ory, Fenton in Falstaff, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Valletto in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Ramiro in La cenerentola, Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Pedrillo in Die Entfhürung aus dem Serail, Alexis in The Sorcerer, Pirelli and Toby in Sweeney Todd, and Orpheus in Offenbach’s Orpheus and the Underworld.
A noted interpreter of Mozart and bel canto repertoire as well as Benjamin Britten and many of today’s living composers, Opera News has hailed Keith Phares "as an authentic contemporary-American-opera divo" with "an impressive gallery of finely-drawn character portraits".
2016-17 engagements include Hurstwood in the world premiere of Robert Aldridge's Sister Carrie with Florentine Opera, Escamillo in Carmen with Opera Santa Barbara, Maximilian in Candide with New York City Opera, Elder Tull in the world premiere of Craig Bohmler's Riders of the Purple Sage with Arizona Opera, Charlie in Three Decembers with Hawaii Opera, Albert in Werther with Manitoba Opera, the American premiere of Philip Glass and Christopher Hampton's The Trial with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Belcore in L'elisir d'Amore with Boston Midsummer Opera.
Recent engagements include Zurga in Les pêcheurs des perles with Seattle Opera, Gaylord Ravenal in Showboat with Kentucky Opera, Charlie in Three Decembers with Florentine Opera, Carmina Burana with Madison Symphony and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, John Sorel in The Consul and Orin Mannon in Mourning Becomes Electra with Florida Grand Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Seattle Opera and Manitoba Opera, Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with New Orleans Opera and Opera Saratoga, Paul's Case with UrbanArias and the PROTOTYPE festival, Dandini in La cenerentola and the title role in Elmer Gantry with Tulsa Opera and Maximilian and the Captain in Candide with São Paulo Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop.
A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Alexandra Martinez-Turano recently "smoldered sexily in her dancing and singing" while making her mainstage debut as Helena in a new production of The Fairy Queen with Chicago Opera Theater and Long Beach Opera (Chicago Tribune). In 2017, She will return to Long Beach Opera and Chicago Opera Theater to perform the role of Sharon Disney in the American premiere of The Perfect American by Philip Glass. Alexandra has performed the roles of Sandrina, Echo, Pamina, Adele, Anna, Julie Jordan, Pernille, and Suor Genovieffa. She has performed with Chicago Opera Theater. Opera Southwest, OperaWorks, Landmark Musicals, University of New Mexico’s Opera Theatre and Symphony Orchestra, University of Southern California Opera Theater, and the La Mirada Symphony amongst others. She made her European debut in the summer of 2012 with the International Lyric Academy in Viterbo, Italy singing the role of Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica. Alexandra is a recent graduate from University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music earning a Masters of Music degree. In the fall of 2016, she began the Professional Diploma in Opera Studies program at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. Furthermore, Alexandra is thrilled to have joined Chicago Opera Theater as a Young Artist for the season. She currently studies with Judith Haddon. alexandramartinezturano.com
Soprano Lani Stait is a second-year young artist with Chicago Opera Theater. A native of Annandale, Virginia she now calls Chicago her home. This year with company she will be featured as Anna Gomez/TheConsul, and appearing in Il pigmalione & Rita. Last season she was featured as Isolt/The Love Potion and appeared in Fairy Queen and The Perfect American.
This summer Lani performed with the Cincinnati Opera chorus in Opera in the Park, Die Zauberflote, and La Boheme. Lani also recently won first place in the highest division of the NATS competition, and was a semi-finalist and Bravo Award recipient in the Bel Canto Foundation young artists competition. In Chicago, she has also appeared as Suor Angelica/Suor Angelica (Opera West), and in concert with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra.
Lani is an alumna of University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance, as well as University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Tenor Patrick Dean Shelton is currently a Professional Diploma candidate at the Chicago
College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University. He is a recent graduate of New England Conservatory where he was a student of soprano Jane Eaglen. In the summer of 2016, Patrick was a Fellow at the Music Academy of the West. He has also been a young artist at Opera Theater of Pittsburgh and The Brevard Music Center. He has performed the roles of Lola (“gender bent” Damn Yankees), Don Curzio (Le nozze di Figaro), L’Aumonier (Dialogues of the Carmelites), Monostatos (Die Zauberflote), Beadle (Sweeney Todd), Mayor Upfold (Albert Herring) and Dr. Caius (Falstaff).
Samuel J. Weiser, bass, is a current student of Bruce Hall at CCPA at Roosevelt University. Samuel graduated cum laude B.S. Ed in Music Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Roles include Colline/La Bohème; Sarastro/Die Zauberflöte; Elder Ott/Susannah;Sicario/Macbeth; Dr. Caius/Falstaff; Dr. Caius/Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor; David/A Hand of Bridge; Il Commendatore/Don Giovanni and Jasper/L’Ivrogne Corrigé. In April of 2016 Samuel was chosen as a 1st prize winner of the Monastero’s Bel Canto Contest, student division. In November of 2015, Samuel premiered Thunder, Perfect Mind by Chicago composer, Christopher Preissing. Recently, Samuel was chosen as a Gerdine Young Artist and will appear with Opera Theatre of St. Louis in the summer of 2016. In St. Louis Samuel appeared as the Valet in Macbeth, Sergeant in La Bohème, and as Clumsy God in the World Premier of Shalimar the Clown. Samuel also covered Truffaldino in Ariadne auf Naxos and Banquo in Macbeth.