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Lyric Opera Cleveland's thirty-first season


Putting new bodies into the seats each season is as important as keeping the ones from previous seasons still interested. It takes a mixture of adventuresome and innovative programming, along with a good dose of 'tried-and-true'. Lyric Opera Cleveland, being one of the smaller opera companies in the United States, could probably teach its bigger and older siblings a thing or two in that regard.

LOC's thirty-first season began 16 June 2004, with the Ohio première of Mark Adamo's Little Women. Adamo's popular opera, for which he wrote both libretto and music, has had more than twenty-five productions since its début by Houston Grand Opera in 1998, and there is also available a double-CD set of the music, plus a video of the PBS/Houston Opera production. This production, however, marks a new direction for the youngish composer -- he's stage directing his opera for the first time.

With a grin, Donald Bernardo, Lyric's managing director, says 'Mark called us about directing our production, and we spent about six weeks trying to talk him out of it -- not because we didn't want him, but because we were concerned that he would be expecting to work with a company that had much larger resources. He persisted, even after we described what we would be doing, and we really couldn't be more thrilled.'

Logistics play a large part in determining any opera season. 'We couldn't fit a forty-five-piece orchestra on the Drury stage (or under it), let alone pay for it,' adds Jonathon Field, Lyric's Artistic Director. Therefore, the original scoring for Little Women -- an eighteen-piece orchestra and twelve singers with no chorus -- is ideal for this chamber group. As in the novel, Jo is the main character, but the opera is written as a dream evolving out of her memories. Jennifer Riviera, a mezzo-soprano who was Meg in the recent New York City Opera production, will sing the role of Jo in Cleveland.

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Copyright © 17 June 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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