Spanish World Premiere at Florentine Opera

Milwaukee, Wis. – The Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee, WI, will present its first-ever world premiere opera, Don Davis’s Río de Sangre, on October 22, 23 & 24, 2010 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Single tickets, which start at $30, go on sale August 21, 2010 online or by phone at 1-800-326-7372. New this season, enhanced seating and pricing options, including 15% discounts for students and seniors at any ticket level, make opera even more affordable and accessible for everyone. Subscriptions to the Florentine Opera’s 2010-2011 season range in price from $73 to $266. Subscribers receive priority seating and special privileges including discounts on additional single ticket orders and generous ticket exchange options.

In a story conceived by Los Angeles author and librettist Kate Gale, Río de Sangre depicts war and love against the backdrop of twenty-first century political turmoil. The opera, which will be performed in Spanish with English translations projected above the stage, tells the story of the overthrow of a dictatorship in a fictional Latin American country. The production features a wealth of artistic talent: Paula Suozzi, a nationally recognized director and a fixture in the Milwaukee arts community, will direct the new work. Principal Conductor Joseph Rescigno will conduct the acclaimed Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in Davis’s vibrant, Latin-inspired score.

The opera has seven leading roles, four supporting roles, and requires a 63-piece orchestra, a 10-piece on-stage merengue band, 35 choristers, and six dancers, with choreography by Simone Ferro.

Emmy Award-winning composer Don Davis, best known for his work on TV and film scores, explains: “It has been an obsession of mine, for some years now, to frame the cultural and political history of Latin America in a musical context, from the vicarious perspective of one who resides in North America. The passion and color of the South American heritage, and the triumphs and struggles of its people throughout its history of oppression and tragedy suggests music of monumental and epic drama. This is a challenging work, embracing both traditional and contemporary sensibilities, moving from the center to the periphery of consciousness, and from the intimate to the mythic. It is my attempt to find a universal voice amidst the suffering and exultation of the most human among us.”

General Director William Florescu, who commissioned the opera to open the 77-year-old company’s 2010-2011 season, comments: “It is quite rewarding to see Río de Sangre come to life for a number of reasons. First, the process has been the culmination of a long journey on the part of the Florentine to bring a world premiere opera to the stage. Second, this particular piece is one that has an immensely powerful dramatic story and value as a musical stage work. By bringing the opera to the stage, the Florentine Opera is actively contributing to the creative vitality of an art form that stretches over 400 years, and I believe that the process of introducing new works in to the repertoire will keep opera dynamic and relevant for many years to come. Moreover, this long-overdue Spanish language opera is another tangible symbol of the Florentine Opera’s ongoing commitment to enhance the vitality of our city and our region. I couldn’t be prouder of what audiences will experience when the curtain finally opens on Río de Sangre this October.”

“Río de Sangre is an important new opera full of wonderful things,” states conductor Joseph Rescigno. “Don Davis has a personal musical style that is unmistakably his own, ranging from a wide array of tonalities to written-out jazz. Some parts are very colorful; others are simple and spare. To some degree, I would call it “21st-Century Impressionism.” Like Der Rosenkavalier, there is a great deal of atmospheric writing that requires delicate playing from the orchestra, so they don’t overwhelm the singers. At other points, there is fine writing for solo instruments. The opera is beautifully orchestrated.”

In the aftermath of a coup d’état, Delacruz, the new leader of a Latin American republic, embarks on an idealistic course for his nascent government. A series of catastrophic events follows, including an earthquake; the death of Delacruz’s son, Miguel; the kidnapping of Delacruz’s daughter, Blanca; and the assassination of Igneo, Delacruz’s political protégé. These events abet the rise of Guajardo, an adversarial wolf in sheep’s clothing. The outbreak of a riot affords the opportunity for this adversary to assume control of the government, thus perpetuating the tragic cycle of oppression.

Stage Director / Paula Suozzi
Conductor / Joseph Rescigno
Christian Delacruz / Guido LeBron (Baritone)
Antonia / Kerry Walsh (Soprano)
Jesus Guajardo / John Duykers (Tenor)
Blanca / Ava Pine (Soprano)
Igneo / Vale Rideout (Tenor)
Estella / Mabel Ledo (Mezzo soprano)
Bishop Ruiz / Rubin Casas (Bass)

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