Opera NEO’s Saturday Concert Offers Tantalizing Previews of Music from Operas in the Company’s 2019 Summer Festival

Where would opera be without love? Opera celebrates love in every condition: love lost (La traviata); love found (The Magic Flute); love betrayed (Pagliacci); perverse love (Salome) or noble love (Fidelio). So it is hardly surprising that San Diego’s Opera NEO company has chosen the theme “Love Is in the Air” to title its concert of operatic airs and ensembles this Saturday, February 16, at 6:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of Palisades Presbyterian Church in Allied Gardens.

At this concert, Opera NEO Artistic Director Peter Kozma will announce the three operas he has chosen for this summer’s festival, which will be held at a new venue, the Four Flowers Auditorium of the La Jolla Country Day School. Some of Saturday’s concert selections will preview operas from the upcoming 2019 festival. Tenor Dane Suarez, who sang the impressive title role in Mozart’s Idomeneo at last summer’s festival, will sing Lensky’s big second act aria “Kuda, kuda,” from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Opera NEO will present Eugene Onegin on August 9 and 11.

Dane Suarez as Idomeneo [photo (c.) Gary Payne]

For his opera buffa, Kozma has selected Rossini’s La cenerentola, and at the Saturday concert mezzo-soprano Stephanie Doche will sing Cinderella’s triumphant second act aria “Non più mesta.” Last summer Doche sang a commanding Idamante in the company’s production of Idomeneo. The 2019 festival will present La cenerentola August 2, 3, and 4.

Sara Womble and Stephanie Doche (right) in Idomeneo [photo (c.) Gary Payne]

Kozma’s commitment to producing Baroque opera remains strong, and for this new season he has selected Francesco Cavalli’s 1651 opera La Calisto. Like Cavalli’s earlier opera Il Giasone, which Opera NEO successfully mounted in the 2017 summer festival, La Calisto is based on Greek mythology. Kelley Hart, Associate Director of Opera NEO will offer three arias from La Calisto on Saturday’s program. La Calisto, with soprano Amanda Austin in the title role, will be presented on August 8 & 10.

Hart will be joined by Doche in “The Presentation of the Rose” duet from Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier–surely a highlight for many on Saturday. Korey Barrett, the company’s Music Director, will accompany the concert, which will also include arias from the evergreen audience favorites Carmen and La bohème.

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