Arts Beat: Opera's 2nd Act

Florida Opera Theatre has a new name, with a celebration and April performances coming up.



From left: Gabriel Preisser is the new executive and artistic director. Bridgette Gan and Julia Foster will be among the performers next month.

COURTESY OF OPERA ORLANDO

A year ago this month, I wrote about the efforts of a small but die-hard band of Orlando opera lovers whose efforts included staging a performance of Mozart’s comic opera masterpiece, Cosi fan tutte, at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

The ambitious, non-profit opera company has gone through a couple of significant transitions since then, and is back with two noteworthy events in March and April.

First, the changes: The company’s name has been changed from Florida Opera Theatre to the more specific Opera Orlando, and they’ve brought in new leadership. Gabriel Preisser, a veteran performer whose resume includes more than 40 operatic and musical theater roles, will assume the role of executive and artistic director. Vincent Connor, a Winter Park native and Florida State University graduate, will become general director.

The company will celebrate with a gala this month honoring philanthropist Bryce West, who is one of Central Florida’s most steadfast arts patrons, with an especially soft spot in his heart for opera. The March 19th fete will take place at an apt location: the Grand Bohemian Hotel, whose art collection includes a series of paintings depicting famous opera scenes by Orlando artist Larry Moore. Soloists will entertain with selections ranging from Carmen to Lucia to La Boheme.  They will be accompanied by concert pianist Michael Fennelly.

Next month, the company will return to the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater at the Phillips Center for three performances of a unique double-bill, blending both the story lines and the music of Mozart’s The Impresario, a tale of theatrical intrigue he wrote as part of a courtly face-off with his rival, Antonio Salieri, and Francis Poulenc’s Le Mamelles de Tiresias, a surreal, gender-muddling postwar farce written in 1945. Performers will include sopranos Julia Foster and Bridgette Gan and tenor Alex Mansoori.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. April 22 and 23 and 2 p.m. April 23. There will be a tutorial about the operas an hour before each performance. 

For tickets and information visit operaorlando.org 

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