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NHSO and Yale Opera to perform Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Theofanidis premiere Nov. 20 & 21

Fully-staged opera to be performed New Haven’s historic St. Mary’s Church
November 18, 2014
Christopher Theofanidis

Christopher Theofanidis

The New Haven Symphony Orchestra (NHSO) is collaborating for the first time with Yale Opera to present a fully staged performance of Puccini’s opera Suor Angelica on Thursday, November 20 and Friday, November 21 at 7:30pm at St. Mary’s Church. Called Puccini, Virtue, and Redemption, program also will include the New England premiere of Virtue by YSM faculty composer Christopher Theofanidis.

The performances of Virtue feature guest soprano soloist Tony Arnold, narrator Chris Dickerson, and the Elm City Girls’ Choir. NHSO music director William Boughton says, “What defines a person’s life as virtuous or sinful? Who deserves forgiveness? These are the themes that we will explore through music in this dramatic program.”

Suor Angelica is the second of three one-act operas Puccini composed during World War I, known together as Il trittico (Triptych). Puccini composed his operas to depict situations true to life, never shying away from the earthy and ugly in human nature – as well as never missing a chance to lace realism with melodrama. Suor takes place in a seventeenth-century convent in Italy and tells the story of a Princess (Angelica) who was forced into the convent after giving birth to a child out of wedlock. While at the convent, Anglica learns of the death of her son and struggles between this devastating loss and her search for spiritual redemption.

Suor will feature performers from Yale Opera, costumes by John Carver Sullivan, and direction by Marc Verzatt. St. Mary’s Church, the founding church of the Knights of Columbus, will serve as the opera’s set.

Opening the program will be the New England premiere performances of Theofanidis’ Virtue, a commission by a consortium led by the New Haven Symphony. Theofanidis based the story on texts by the medieval mystic, herbalist, playwright, theologian and composer, Saint Hildegard of Bingen. The narrative of Virtue depicts a dramatic encounter between a human soul (portrayed by soprano Tony Arnold) and its temptation and confrontation with the Devil (narrated by Chris Dickerson).

The event is ticketed through the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the two concerts at St. Mary’s, the NHSO and Yale Opera will perform a concert version of Suor Angelica on Saturday, November 22, 2014 at 7:30pm at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford, CT. This performance will not include costumes or staging.

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