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Pacific Opera Project takes on Shakespeare and Verdi in a Cemetery with Falstaf

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This September, Pacific Opera Project (POP) continues its successful run of presenting engaging productions in unique venues across Los Angeles with Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff, presented outdoors at the top of Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Museum Plaza) in Glendale.

With seating at tables including food and wine, a top-notch cast and orchestra all under a starry sky, POP will present this thoroughly good-natured masterpiece in a celebratory atmosphere, proving once again that opera was — and continues to be — an art for the masses. Dates are September 12, 13 and September 19, 20, 2015.

General admission $25. 2 person table $65-$80. 4 person table $120-$150. Tables include a bottle of wine and plate of appetizers. 

Supported by two of Southern California's greatest assets, the glorious weather and the dramatic terrain, POP will transport its audiences above their daily drudgery to the peak of operatic and comic achievement.

Following in the footsteps of summer picnics at Hollywood Bowl performances, or Hollywood Forever cemetery movie showings, Falstaff will bring audiences into the wine-soaked world of Shakespeare's Fat Knight, with the added advantage of an intimate venue.

The Museum Esplanade at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale will serve as Sir John's Garter Inn, the Ford family residence, and in the final scene a real, majestic oak tree will play the part of Herne's Oak at midnight. The opera is presented in the original Italian with projected English supertitles, and features Jonathan Dove's reduced orchestration of Verdi's score, by arrangement with Birmingham Opera Company in England. Tables for two or four are available, in addition to general seating for the approximately 2.5 hour performance.
 
Falstaff began as a retirement pastime for Verdi after the success of what he had intended to be his final opera,Otello, a setting of the libretto by composer and author Arrigo Boito.

His lifelong fascination with Shakespeare’s works (he had set Macbeth earlier in his career, and longed to compose an operatic Hamlet) and his reflections on growing old led him to take the bait when Boito (whom Verdi considered to be his most worthy artistic partner) offered him a script starring the aging Sir John Falstaff.

The Merry Wives of Windsor provides the major plot points of identical love letters to different (wealthy) women and their subsequent comical revenge on the Fat Knight, but from what scholars consider to be one of Shakespeare’s lesser plays Boito distills a story which moves along at a brisk clip and returns to Falstaff a rich measure of the humanity that is largely lost between the Henry plays and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Verdi’s score responds in kind, displaying incredible wit and good humor, and finally redeeming the commercial failure of his first comedy (and second opera), Un giorno di regno.
 
POP’s mission is to provide energetic, high-quality, accessible performances of a broad variety of operatic repertoire at various venues throughout Southern California. Co-founders Josh Shaw (stage direction and production design) and Stephen Karr (music director and conductor) team up for the company’s seventeenth production since its inception in the summer of 2011. Veteran costumer Maggie Green will design her twelfth POP production.
 
POP is known for assembling stellar casts, but the talent in this production reaches new levels of professionalism with credits from nearly every major opera company in the United States. Zeffin Quinn Hollis (Dallas Opera, New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera) debuts with both POP and the role of Falstaff. Rebecca Sjöwall (Arizona Opera, Nashville Opera), who previously sang the Governess in POP’s critically acclaimed production of The Turn of the Screw, returns to sing Alice Ford. She is joined by Daniel Scofield (Opera Columbus, Opera Santa Barbara and last seen with POP as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro) and Annie Sherman who play her husband Ford and daughter Nannetta respectively.

 As Nannetta’s young suitor Fenton, Nadav Hart (Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera) makes his POP debut. Phil Meyer and Kyle Patterson, both POP regulars, return as Falstaff’s sidekicks Pistola and Bardolfo. Sharmay Musacchio (New York City Opera, Los Angeles Opera), Clay Hilley (Washington National Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Glimmerglass Festival, and another POP alumnus) and Jessica Mirshak (a recent graduate of USC) round out the cast as Dame Quickly, Dr. Caius and Meg Page. A chorus of henchmen, nymphs, elves and fairies rounds out the cast.
 
Music Director Stephen Karr will present a lecture an hour before each performance. 


Full Event Information: www.pacificoperaproject.com/#!blank/cqkx

 

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