Classic operas comprise season for 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tosca by Giacomo Puccini will open the Opera in the Ozarks 2010 Summer Festival on June 18 at Inspiration Point Fine Arts Colony in Eureka Springs. The season will culminate with an anniversary gala at the City Auditorium on July 17.

For 60 years Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, a nonprofit organization, has provided talented young artists with the opportunity to hone their operatic skills during an intensive six-week training program which prepares them for their professional careers. It is not only one of the oldest summer opera training programs in the country, but it is acknowledged by opera educators to be one of the best total experiences for career entry artists.

"Celebrating 60 years of supporting the arts at Opera in the Ozarks is a very special occasion," said Jim Swiggart, general director of Opera in the Ozarks since 1989. "I have been associated with the program since 1955 and have experienced the impact it makes on lives and careers. This program gives young artists more opportunity than any other training program I have heard of."

Opera in the Ozarks offers productions of some of the world's most beloved operas and is recognized as one of the top 10 summer opera festivals worldwide. These future stars, who come from across the country, will perform for the public from June 18 through July 16. This season's line-up includes: Tosca, Carmen, and Don Giovanni. All operas are fully produced and supported by a professional orchestra.

All but two of the performances take place at Inspiration Point in an intimate outdoor theater framed by the lush Ozark Mountains. Few opera houses, if any, offer three great operas in a four-week season. Also, due to the intimate setting at Inspiration Point, Opera in the Ozarks gives the audience the opportunity to witness close-up the emotions of the performers. All evening performances are at 7:15 p.m., and take place on a sheltered outdoor stage with a seating capacity of 300.

Tosca will be performed June 18, 20, 23, 27, and July 1, 5, 8, and 16. The action takes place in Rome in 1800. Napoleon has invaded Italy, and power is shifting between the old royalists and the young Italian revolutionaries, who want Italy to become a republic along French lines and therefore support Napoleon.

The work premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on Jan, 14, 1900. It is one of the most-performed operas in North America.

Carmen is a French opera comique by Georges Bizet. The opera premiered at the Opera-Comique of Paris on March 3, 1875. The story is set in Seville, Spain, in 1830, and concerns the eponymous Carmen, a beautiful Gypsy with a fiery temper. Free with her love, she woos the corporal Don Josť, an inexperienced soldier. Their relationship leads to his rejection of his former love, mutiny against his superior, and joining a gang of smugglers. His jealousy when she turns from him to the bullfighter Escamillo leads him to murder Carmen. It will be staged June 19, 21, 25, and 30, and July 2, 6, and 14. On July 10 there will be a special performance of Carmen at 3 p.m. at the Arend Arts Center in Bentonville.

The third opera of the season, Don Giovanni, will be performed June 26 and 29, and July 3, 7, 9, 12, and 15. It is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and was premiered in the Estates Theatre in Prague on October 29, 1787. Don Giovanni, a young nobleman, after a life of amorous conquests, meets defeat in three encounters. The first is with Donna Elvira, whom he has deserted but who still follows him. The second is with Donna Anna, who must postpone her marriage to Don Ottavio after Don Giovanni tries to rape her and kills her father, the Commendatore, escaping afterwards. The third is with Zerlina, whom he vainly tries to lure from her fiance, the peasant Masetto. All vow vengeance on Don Giovanni and his terribly harassed servant Leporello. Elvira alone weakens in her resolution and attempts reconciliation in the hope that Giovanni will reform. Don Giovanni's destruction and deliverance to hell are effected by the cemetery statue of the Commendatore, who had accepted the libertine's invitation to supper.

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