University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Eastman Opera stages alumnus’ work

Eastman Opera Theatre kicks off its 2005–06 season with a production of Claudia Legare, an adventurous opera composed by Robert Ward '39E, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 for his opera The Crucible.

Based on the Henrik Ibsen play Hedda Gabler, Claudia Legare was reset in post-war South Carolina by librettist Bernard Stambler in what Ward describes as “one of the strongest opera librettos ever written.” The story follows a bored young woman caught in the middle of her husband’s and former lover’s differing plans for reconstructing the South. Torn between the past and the future, the heroine takes matters into her own hands during a fit of passion with tragic results.

The opera has been produced only three times since its premiere in 1978, and Ward is taking a personal interest in the Eastman School production. He made a special visit to Rochester in September to work directly with the cast and will be present for opening night on Thursday, November 3. Of Eastman Opera Theatre’s dramatic director, Steven Daigle, Ward says: “He has a great sense of all the theatrical values, so I knew the staging would be wonderful.”

The production features two alternating casts of Eastman voice students as well as the Eastman Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Eastman Opera Theatre Music Director Benton Hess. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, November 3 to 5, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 6, in Kilbourn Hall.

Reserved seating tickets are $18, $15, $12, and $8, and are available in person or online through the RPO Box Office (108 East Avenue), by phone at 454-2100, or at Rochester-area Wegmans Video Departments. Any unsold tickets may be purchased at the Kilbourn Hall box office one hour before the start of each performance.

In addition, the Friends of Eastman Opera will sponsor a special preperformance talk by Russell Miller, associate professor of vocal coaching and repertory. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will take place in Room 120 of the Eastman School one hour before each performance.

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