Memphis, Tenn. January 25, 2018 – Opera Memphis presents its second opera of the season, Rossini’s comedy The Italian Girl in Algiers, in an production Opera News called “an unusually entertaining evening at the opera.” To celebrate the Mediterranean setting, both evenings will begin with a Mediterranean food festival at 5:30 pm in the GPAC Lobby. The opera performs Feb. 2 and 3 at Germantown Performing Arts Center.
The Italian Girl in Algiers is a classic “Boy meets Girl; Boy Gets Captured By Pirates; Girl Goes To Rescue Him: Girl Gets Captured By Same Pirates” story. Mustafà, Bey of Algiers, wants to divorce his wife and marry an Italian girl, but Isabella (the Italian girl in question) is engaged to Lindoro, whom she came all the way to Algiers to rescue. Lindoro wants to marry Isabella, but Mustafa told him he is now engaged to Elvira, who used to be married to Mustafà, whose pirates captured Lindoro in the first place. And that’s just the first act.
Playing the role of Isabella is mezzo soprano Nikola Printz, in her final year as part of the Opera Memphis Artist-in-Residence program, in cooperation with the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. This role comes in the midst of an exciting year for Nikola, who is busy around the country, including as a featured singer on the recently released blockbuster video game, Call of Duty: World War II.
Isabella’s lover, Lindoro, is played by tenor Norman Shankle in his first appearance with Opera Memphis. Shankle has garnered rave reviews from coast to coast, being called “a singer to watch” by the San Francisco Chronicle. They are joined on stage by baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., who was last seen at Opera Memphis in a powerful performance as the Count in 2016’s The Marriage of Figaro. The Metropolitan Opera National Council Winner has electrified crowds nationwide, and Opera News says he has “one of the most exciting baritone sounds to come along in years.”
All of them are caught in a web spun by Mustafa, played by the commanding bass Jeffrey Beraun, in his first role with Opera Memphis. As always, the stage is full of local talent, including crowd favorite Chelsea Miller and recent addition Mary Jane Claassen. This opera also features a stellar performance by the men of the Opera Memphis chorus, who play three different characters – men of the court, eunuchs, and gondoliers.
The glorious music of this piece is skillfully interpreted by Opera Memphis’ own Michael Sakir, in his first conducting role as Music Director. As is often the case, Opera Memphis is honored to have the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in the pit for this production, and Sakir is leading them in an effervescent interpretation of this classic opera. Combine that with his careful attention to the singers, and you have the makings of a wonderful evening of music.
Opera Memphis General Director Ned Canty will stage direct, pulling all of this chaos together. Canty has directed this production around the county, earning enthusiastic reviews. Opera News called Canty’s Italian Girl in Algiers “an unusually entertaining night at the opera,“ and The Hartford Courant said, “Canty deserves credit for his imaginative direction, humorously mixing a disco ball, ‘20’s era costumes, and pole dancing with a traditional Moorish set.” Those who saw Canty’s previous directing turns at Opera Memphis, including The Pirates of Penzance at The Mikado, know to expect an evening of high-energy comedy.
To celebrate the pan-Mediterranean influences of this opera, Opera Memphis has organized a compact Mediterranean Festival in the GPAC lobby beginning at 5:30 pm before each performance. The centerpiece of the Festival will be a selection of small plate offerings from Sabine Bachmann and Chef Armando Gagliano of Libro at Laurelwood and Ecco on Overton Park. Plates will be available for purchase at the theater. Additionally, Sam Braslow and the team from The Mighty Olive will offer olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings and products for sale. Mediterranean music and beverages from the Germantown Performing Arts Center bar will add to the festivities.
The Italian Girl in Algiers runs February 2 and 3 at 7:30 pm at Germantown Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $30 and are available by calling 901.257.3100 or at operamemphis.org/italiangirl. Student rush tickets are available for $10 at the door beginning at 6:00 pm on performance evenings.
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ABOUT OPERA MEMPHIS
Opera Memphis was founded in 1956 and has grown into a world-class opera company. Widely respected for its innovative approach to outreach and audience development, Opera Memphis has become a nationally recognized thought leader on the process of evolving to meet the needs of 21st century audiences. For more information on upcoming Opera Memphis performances, call 901-257-3100 or visit www.operamemphis.org. To keep up with the latest news and happenings, follow Opera Memphis on facebook.com/operamemphis or on Twitter as @operamemphis.