Florida Grand Opera presents Jules Massenet’s Thaïs

Florida Grand Opera closes the 2013-14 season with yet another exciting deviation from the standard repertoire – Massenet’s Thaïs, opening May 3, 2014, at the Arsht Center. Bringing a touch of eastern mystique to the season, this work was last presented by FGO in 1976. It comes to the stage in a co-production by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, and Opéra de Montréal conceived and designed by the team of Renaud Doucet and Andre Barbe.

Based on the Anatole France novel of the same name, Thaïs is a tale of religious eroticism where Athanaël, a cenobite monk, seeks to convert an Alexandrian courtesan and follower of Venus, goddess of love, to the path of Christianity. Their encounter finds redemption for her and his realization that he has been driven by lust rather than religious fervor. This French opera contains the famous Meditation from Thaïs, a sublime intermezzo for solo violin and orchestra that bridges the scenes of Act II and describes the conversion of Thaïs. The role of Thaïs, which was originally written for American soprano Sibyl Sanderson, is a famously difficult one whose interpreters include Beverly Sills and Renée Fleming. Stepping up to the challenge and making their role debuts will be sopranos Eglise Gutiérrez and Angela Mortellaro.

Known for a warm and vibrant personality that won the hearts of South Florida audiences, Gutiérrez is a Cuban-American coloratura soprano who has turned her affinity for the bel canto style into an international career. She has traveled the world delivering thrilling interpretations of the heroines of Donizetti, Verdi, Massenet, and Delibes. In 2011, she took on the technically-demanding lead role of Amina in La sonnambula with the Royal Opera House, where Opera Britannia was impressed with the “richness and warmth of her voice … [and her] fearless upper register.” The soprano made her critically-acclaimed debut with FGO in 2008 as the complex Violetta Valéry in La traviata, where she demonstrated “vocal artistry, coloratura agility and dramatic commitment,” according to South Florida Classical Review. Making her company and role debut as Thaïs, FGO welcomes Mortellaro, an American soprano of “considerable vocal power,” according to the Portland Press Herald. She is known for important roles such as: Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor with Dayton Opera, Galatea in Acis and Galatea with Madison Opera, and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Sarasota Opera.

The role of Athanaël will be sung by bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter, praised by Opera Now for his “dashing stage presence, acting ability, and solid vocal technique.” He made his FGO debut as Monoah in Szulamit in 2004.and returned to sing the roles of Oscar Hubbard in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina and Monaoh in Donath’s Szulamit. The Grammy-nominated artist has performed with major opera companies from coast to coast, growing his repertoire to more than 100 performed roles. Uruguayan tenor Martin Nusspaumer, an FGO Young Artist, will sing the role of Nicias, a wealthy nobleman and Thaïs’s lover. He made his company debut in 2011 Luisa Fernanda and has been called “a tenor reminiscent of Domingo” with “deeply emotional delivery” by South Florida Classical Review. His voice has taken him all over the world, from the National Opera of Uruguay to the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, and has earned him the accolade of southern region finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, among many others. Maestro Tebar’s “intense and precise conducting” (Buenos Aires Herald) rises to the podium one final time to close out the season.

SCHEDULE | Thaïs

**Sung in French with projected titles in English and Spanish**

MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
May 3, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. – Opening Night
May 4, 2014, matinee at 2 p.m.
May 6 & 10, 2014, at 8:00 p.m.

FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
May 15 & 17, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.

CAST | Thaïs

Thaïs ………………………………………….. Eglise Gutiérrez
May 3, 6, 15, 17
………………………………………….. Angela Mortellaro *
May 4, 10
Athanaël ………………………………………….. Kristopher Irmiter
Nicias ………………………………………….. Martin Nusspaumer ♦
Palemon ………………………………………….. Adam Lau ♦

Conductor ………………………………………….. Ramón Tebar
Director ………………………………………….. Renaud Doucet
Designer ………………………………………….. Andre Barbe

* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist

FGO’s Box Office is located at the Doral Center on 8390 NW 25 St., Doral, FL 33122, and is open to the public from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday during the season. Tickets may also be purchased by phone at (800) 741-1010 or online at www.FGO.org.

Sponsorship opportunities for productions and events throughout the season are available. For more information, contact Andrea Gartner at 305-854-1643 or [email protected]

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