(CAMBRIDGE, N.Y.) — In its fourth summer season, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (HHOT) presents Gaetano Donizetti’s classic comic opera, Don Pasquale, in a new production by Heidi Lauren Duke, reconceived and relocated to the glamorous early Hollywood, Art Deco world of Buster Keaton and Mae West. Performances, running August 12, 13, and 18 at 8 pm and August 20 and 21 at 2 pm on Hubbard Hall’s mainstage at 25 East Main Street in Cambridge, will be fully costumed and staged, sung in Italian (with supertitles), and accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra. A pay-what-you-will final dress rehearsal at 8 pm on August 10 also is open to the public.
Featuring acclaimed international singing artist Brace Negron in the title role, the plot centers on a young country widow, Norina, and her suitor, Ernesto, whose marriage plans hinge upon the approval of Ernesto’s wealthy uncle, Don Pasquale. Don Pasquale not only opposes the match, but also happens to be in search of a match for himself, and the good doctor, Malatesta, a friend of the young couple, has the perfect young lady in mind for him; namely, Norina, who will be disguised as the doctor’s demure convent-bound sister. Norina agrees to teach the old man a lesson once the false marriage contract has been signed and the comedic farce ensues with some of the most vocally virtuosic music of the genre. Duke’s new production sets this classic story, originally placed in the early 19th century, in the glamorous early Hollywood, Art Deco world of Buster Keaton and Mae West.
In addition to Negron, the cast includes Broadway star Glenn Seven Allen as Ernesto. Allen originated the role of the young hero Giuseppe in Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza during the show’s Tony Award-winning Broadway run, and was hailed by the New York Times for his “strong voice and presence.” He also was singled out recently by CurtainUp as “a special bonanza for ears eager for that most beautiful of instruments – the pure human voice.”
Delmar resident Vedrana Kalas will play the beautiful and vocally scintillating Norina. Andrew Bawden, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where his opera performances included roles in Die Zauberflöte, La Traviata, The Impresario, Gianni Schicchi, Madame Butterfly, and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, will play Malatesta.
Director/choreographer Heidi Lauren Duke has staged work in seven states and four countries, working with singers from all over the world. Making her Hubbard Hall debut, Duke just arrived from the opening of her new production of Falstaff for Boston Opera Collaborative. The previous summer, Duke premiered her new opera-theatre piece, Lorca en Nueva York, for a full house in Barcelona, Spain, and this past December, she revived her critically acclaimed production of Hansel & Gretel in New York’s Times Square.
Maria Sensi Sellner, director of the Akron Symphony Chorus, will conduct. Equally at home in operatic, orchestral, and choral venues, Sellner has been the music director of the All-University Orchestra and String Theory Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Mellon University for the past nine years. She also serves as a Conducting Assistant for the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, chorus of choice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Tickets, at $30 general, $25 members, $20 students, may be obtained by visiting Hubbard Hall Opera Theater or by calling 518.677.2495.
About Hubbard Hall Opera Theater (HHOT)
Founded in 2008 by Jones, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater has since presented three critically acclaimed summer productions with orchestra, Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (2008), Bizet/Brook’s La Tragedie de Carmen (2009), and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (2010). Recently, HHOT mounted two additional productions: an abridged version of Puccini’s La Boheme featuring past, young artists, which was performed both at Hubbard Hall and the Saratoga Springs Public Library; and Menotti’s The Medium, sponsored by a grant from the Saratoga Arts Festival and performed at Cafe Lena in Saratoga Springs and at the Lee Middle and High School.
Building off of the rich tradition of arts in the Cambridge Valley, HHOT seeks to bring yet another element of culture to an already bustling center. The mission of HHOT is to provide classically trained singers and instrumentalists in New England and upstate New York greater opportunities to create something beautiful close to home, while also giving rural audiences the chance to enjoy an opera without having to spend the night in a city to do so. HHOT is dedicated to providing young artists with the chance to perform key roles in a nurturing environment alongside experienced field professionals.
Hubbard Hall is an historic opera house located at 25 E. Main St. in Cambridge, N.Y.