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Beloved fairy tale gets operatic makeover with "Cinderella: Opera for Kids!" as part of Pacific Symphony's Family Musical Mornings concerts Jan. 31
Orange County, Calif. — January 21, 2015
Concert features talented opera students from Chapman University, colorful costumes and props, and a Musical Carnival
Rossini’s sparkling and humorous operatic retelling of the timeless rags-to-riches tale “Cinderella” is brought to life by Pacific Symphony as part of Family Musical Mornings, presented by Farmers and Merchants Bank. “Cinderella: Opera for Kids!” is an enchanting romantic comedy filled with toe-tapping tunes, colorful characters and splendid orchestration. As part of the Symphony’s opera-vocal initiative—which includes Bizet’s “Carmen” in February as part of the Classical series—this 45-minute adaptation of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” is designed to introduce children to the world of opera and the beautiful and powerful instrument of the voice.
Led by Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, the orchestra and singers tell the tale of Cinderella, a kindhearted girl living in her stepmother’s castle who longs to escape the cruelty of her vain stepsisters. When the prince announces that he will choose his bride at a glamorous ball, Cinderella seizes the opportunity to take control of her destiny. Complete with all of the enchanting elements that are familiar to children and families, Cinderella, with the help of her mice friends, rides to the ball in a magical carriage and leaves her glass slipper for the prince to find.
“Cinderella: Opera for Kids!” takes place Saturday, Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $20-45 and include a Musical Carnival before or after the show (more below). For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. This fully costumed, staged concert, with projected scenic elements, features a number of local artists including the director of Opera Chapman, Chapman University students and professional singers, including Chapman alumni. This concert is sponsored by The Honorable H. Warren and Janet Siegel.
“Rossini’s music is easy to listen to because it is fresh, full of driving rhythms, imagery and nicely shaped melodies that stick easily in the memory of the listeners,” says Maestro Gutiérrez. “The musical excerpts I chose for our production of ‘Cinderella’ are the ones that I enjoy the most from Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola.’ They are also the most popular and fun arias and ensembles from the opera. From the very beginning families will enjoy the funny duet of the stepsisters being arrogant and thinking they are the most beautiful girls in town (‘No, No, No…’). Then the melancholic and sweet main song of Cinderella and the virtuosic coloratura in Cinderella’s voice, plus the elegant and powerful courtiers’ ensembles, the fun arias of Dandini and the romantic and beautiful duets of Cinderella and Prince Ramiro.”
“I think that kids will enjoy the humor and liveliness of Rossini’s music that is also reflected in the performances of our excellent singers!” says Susan Miller Kotses, senior director of education. “We have focused on bringing out humorous elements that will appeal to kids and parents. I also think that having a very familiar story is a wonderful introduction to the world of opera. Many of our singers are in their early to mid-20s. They are young, energetic and are totally believable in their characters, which I think breaks some of the negative stereotypes about opera wide open, and will hopefully encourage families to further engage in this art form!”
Directed and written by Peter Atherton, director of Opera Chapman and professor of vocal arts, this staged production features a Chapman grad and a current student in the lead roles: Erin Gonzalez as Cinderella and Duke Kim as the Prince. Supporting roles and understudies are played by current Chapman students and recent alumni, including Natalie Uranga, Alexandra Rupp, Andrei Bratkovski, Brett Gray, Tyler Johnson, Mark Peng, Benedict Ressa and Elliott Wulff. Local mezzo-soprano Aumna Iqubal serves as Cinderella’s understudy and performs excerpts in the lobby as part of the Musical Carnival, joined by Chapman students and alumni.
The Symphony welcomes back David Stoneman as Dandini, the Prince’s assistant. Stoneman has performed with Pacific Symphony more than a dozen times and is also a Chapman alumnus. Joining the cast as Cinderella’s wicked stepmother is soprano Bree Burgess, the creator/writer of the popular “Lagunatics” show, a founder of No Square Theatre in Laguna Beach, a regular writer, director and performer in Pacific Symphony’s Family Concerts.
Kotses comments on the mutual benefits of the partnership between the Symphony and Chapman University. “This is definitely one of those win-win situations! Chapman students benefit from the opportunity to work with a wonderful conductor, Alejandro Gutiérrez, to sing with a world-class orchestra and to learn from seasoned artists. Alejandro holds the students up to the highest standard, while encouraging their artistic growth through his positive and nurturing approach. Pacific Symphony benefits from the opportunity to work with director and scriptwriter Peter Atherton, who is also the head of Opera Chapman. Peter is brilliant at creating productions that are both fun and educational. Peter and Chapman also provide us with a beautiful and functional rehearsal space, access to some items in Chapman’s costume collection, and the opportunity to engage a wonderful member of Chapman’s teaching staff as our rehearsal accompanist—this year, Janet Kao. Working with the students allows us to have a young cast that appeals to our young audience. Along with the professionals in the cast, these accomplished young artists provide an operatic experience that is both high in artistic quality and kid-friendly.”
Along with the concert, children and families are invited to attend the Musical Carnival beginning at 9 a.m. (for the 10 a.m. concert) and 12:15 p.m. (for the 11:30 a.m. concert). The carnival features a lobby performance by Iqbal, Kao and Chapman singers, opportunities to meet the musicians and young musicians (from Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles), design Cinderella’s dress and compose a song using small percussion instruments.
Family Musical Mornings returns on Saturday, March 14, with “Superheroes!” featuring music from “Star Wars” and “Superman.” The series concludes on April 18, with “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” featuring more than 25 musical excerpts from Beethoven’s greatest works.
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