OSWEGO – Oswego Opera Theater will present Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera, The Mikado, in the newly remodeled Waterman Theater on the SUNY-Oswego campus on November 11 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee on November 12 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be reserved at the box office: 315-312-2141.
The Mikado or The Town of Titipu is a operetta in English in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert, their ninth of 14 operatic collaborations.
It opened on 14 March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, which was the second longest run for any work of musical theatre and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time.
According to critics, before the end of 1885, it was estimated that, in Europe and America, at least 150 companies were producing the opera.
The Mikado remains especially popular with professional opera companies.
The work has been translated into numerous languages and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history.
Although the work is obviously 19th century British, the setting for the opera is Japan, thought of at that time as an exotic locale far away from Britain, allowing Gilbert to satirize British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese.
Queen Victoria loved the works of Gilbert and Sullivan though some suspected she did not perceive that many of them satirized contemporary British politics.
It is widely believed that the idea for The Mikado first sprang into W.S. Gilbert’s mind when an old Japanese sword, which had been hanging on the wall of his study for years, suddenly fell from its place.
Gilbert took this as an omen and determined to leave his own country alone for a while and turn his biting satire instead towards the East.
He did not have to look far to research the subject of his new play. In Knightsbridge, a little village of Japanese immigrants within a mile of his own home in South Kensington, he witnessed the strange arts, devices and lifestyles of Japanese people.
As usual, Oswego Opera Theater will showcase some exceptionally talented performers and staff.
For example, Timothy Lanigan (Nanki-Poo), a SUNY-Oswego alum, recently completed his Professional Studies Certificate at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Maitland Peters.
Lanigan has performed Sándor Barinkay (Der Zigeunerbaron) with MSM Opera Theater, Ernesto (Don Pasquale) with MSM Opera Repertory Ensemble, and the title role in Albert Herring with MSM Opera Seminar.
In the summer of 2016, Lanigan attended the Aspen Music Festival and in past summers has been to programs in France (L’Art du chant Français), Italy (Si parla, si canta), and Austria (IES Vienna). He holds a Masters from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelors from SUNY Oswego.
Haley Marie Vick (Yum-Yum) graduated with her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts in 2015.
At Roosevelt, she could be seen portraying such roles as Belinda in “Dido and Aeneas” and Calisto in Cavalli’s “La Calisto.”
Since graduation she has been making a name for herself on the East Coast in “The Merry Widow” as Valencienne with New Rochelle Opera, “Princess Ida” as the title role, “Cendrillon” as La Fee, “Eileen” as Maddie with the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project LIVE!, “Die Fledermaus” as dele with Amore Opera.
She has also performed in an opera gala in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and as the soprano soloist in Benjamin Brittan’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” and sung in the chorus of “Carmina Burana” with the Chicago Sinfonietta.
One of her crowning achievements, however, was not in the opera world, but on stage at Chicago’s United Center with The Rolling Stones to sing in the chorus of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”for their three sold-out performances in their 50 And Counting Tour.
Sarah Hasegawa (Katisha) is excited to return to Oswego Opera Theater having appeared as a Spirit in The Magic Flute and as a Grisette in The Merry Widow.
She most recently performed the role of the Duchess in The Gondoliers at the Earlville Opera House.
Other Gilbert and Sullivan credits include Pitti Sing in The Mikado, Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance, Lady Sangazure in The Sorcerer and Casilda in The Gondoliers. Sarah is a member of the Syracuse Opera Chorus and is a proud SUNY Oswego alumna.
Angela Russell (Pitti-Sing) is currently a senior SUNY-Oswego music major from Richmond, Massachusetts.
She studied at Monument Mountain Regional High School, where she participated in choirs and in the spring musical.
A very busy performer, she participates in two choirs, directs a show choir, and has conducted women’s choir.
Past roles for Oswego Opera include Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and the Attendant in Dido and Aeneas.
Claire Beshures (Peep-Bo) is currently a sophomore at SUNY Oswego, majoring in meteorology. Claire enjoys playing violin in the College/Community Orchestra. Claire acted in Taylor McCown’s production of Till Death Do Us Part in spring of 2016. Recent appearances as an opera singer include Barbarina in Oswego Opera Theater’s The Marriage of Figaro, and the Second Woman in Dido and Aeneas.
Dylan Ruffo (Pish-Tush) is delighted to be making his Oswego Opera debut in their production of The Mikado. A Binghamton native, he has previously performed with the Summer Savoyards as The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, and Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore. He was a member of the Tri-Cities Opera Chorus, appearing in Cosí fan tutte, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Madama Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, Die Zauberflöte, Il Trovatore, Carmen, and Die Fledermaus, and as the Customs Officer in La Bohème.
An active member of the community, he is chairman of the executive board for the Summer Savoyards, where he helps produce productions and fundraisers year-round. He would like to thank everyone for their help and support throughout the rehearsal process, and Peter Sicilian for his guidance and encouragement.
Robert Kovak (Mikado) This is his third G&S role of the year having just appeared as the Sergeant in Rome Community Theater’s “Pirates” production. He is an alumnus of SUNY Oswego with a double major in Music & Theater and performed the roles of Scrooge, Becket and Van Helsing for the main college productions there. His performance as Ralph Rackstraw in “Pinafore” for Salt City Playhouse was probably the last role he ever had as a tenor.
Juan Francisco La Manna (Artistic Director, Conductor) is orchestra director at the State University of New York in Oswego and conductor of the Oswego Youth Orchestra.
Prior to his appointment at SUNY, Dr. La Manna lived in the Kansas City area, where he was conductor for the State Ballet of Missouri, directing the St. Louis and Kansas City Symphonies, and conducting the orchestra for the late Rudolf Nureyev.
Dr. La Manna was principal conductor for Miami City Ballet for four years, receiving rave reviews from newspapers such as The New York Times and The Miami Herald.
He directed many performances in Florida, including a gala with the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra and the premiere of Elvis Costello’s Nightspot, working with famed choreographer Twyla Tharp.
He has directed La Bohème, The Magic Flute, and Carousel, as well as children works such as Britten’s Noah’s Flood and Brundibar, an opera by Holocaust victim Hans Krasa.
Recently he conducted Syracuse’s Symphoria in several performances.
Active as a pianist as well, Dr. La Manna has performed as a chamber musician and as a soloist, both in recitals and with orchestras, playing regionally, nationally, and abroad.
Benjamin Spierman (Koko, Stage Director) is very pleased to return to Oswego Opera Theatre for his fifth show as Stage Director (and his second on stage); he directed OOT’s recent productions of The Marriage of Figaro, longer-ago productions of The Magic Flute, A Little Night Music, and The Impresario (in which he was pleased to appear onstage with Maestro La Manna).
He has directed acclaimed productions of The Merry Widow and La fille du regiment (Indianapolis Opera) and Turandot (Dayton Opera), and the latter by NYC premiere productions of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals and the Weber/Mahler Die Drei Pintos (both for Bronx Opera, of which he is General Director).
He is also Resident Stage Director of Long Island’s North Shore Music Festival, where he has directed The Elixir of Love, Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, Pagliacci, Gianni Schicchi, and Il tabarro.
Other work in and around New York City has included Verdi’s Falstaff, Massenet’s Cendrillon, and Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury (all for Rutgers University, the first two winning National Opera Association prizes).
Last season saw him direct Lucia di Lammermoor for Opera San Jose, Vaughan Williams’ Sir John in Love (Bronx Opera), Eugene Onegin for Utopia Opera in New York City, and Die Fledermaus for Opera Idaho.
A sought-after dramatic coach, he has worked with distinguished singers and opera performers.
Mihoko Tsutsumi (director, SUNY Oswego Collage Choir, Oswego Youth Conservatory) is a native of Japan.
She graduated from the Osaka College of Music as a voice performance major and studied opera at the Kansai Nikikai School in Osaka.
In 1989, Dr. Tsutsumi moved to Montreal, Canada and studied English and voice at McGill University for two years.
In 2000, she came to the United States to receive her Master’s in Music Education at Columbus State University; later she completed her Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting, and her Ph.D in Music Education at Florida State University.
Dr. Tsutsumi joined the faculty of SUNY Oswego in fall 2013.
She has been directing Festival Chorus, State Singers, and then College choir.
She directs the Youth Choir and is a sought-after teacher and accompanist.
Although written in the 19th century, one of the wonderful subtleties of The Mikado is that it can reflect the resonances and nuances of contemporary politics.
Perhaps we may see some reflections of the current administration in this production?