House Music: Mannes Opera Presents Igor Meets Gioachino

 

The Mannes Opera presents works by Stravinsky and Rossini on December 19. Photo by Genie Ames, 2012.

The time: the 19th and early 20th centuries. The place: Paris, naturellement. The composers: Rossini and Stravinsky. The performers: the young talent of Mannes College.

These elements come together in Igor Meets Gioachino, The Mannes Opera’s fall production, to be performed with The Mannes Orchestra on Wednesday, December 19. Conceived, conducted, and supervised by Joseph Colaneri, Igor Meets Gioachino presents two rarely heard short operas—Stravinsky’s Mavra (1922) and Rossini’s La Scala di seta (1812)—as a single performance, about two sets of characters living in a Parisian townhouse a century apart.

“The pairing of Mavra and La Scala di seta seems natural to me,” says Colaneri, director of the Mannes Opera program. “Scala demonstrates the significant influence of Rossini’s bel canto idiom on Stravinsky’s operatic works. More broadly, the program illustrates the continuity of opera from 19th-century Romanticism to 20th-century modernism. Also, the two pieces represent important starting points for each composer: Scala was written at the beginning of Rossini’s career as an opera composer and Mavra marks the beginning of Stravinsky’s neoclassical period.”

Set just after World War I, Mavra tells the story of a family of White Russian émigrés looking for domestic help—and finding love. Scala, set 100 years earlier, tells the story of Giulia and her secret marriage to Dorvil. Mavra will be sung in English, La Scala di seta in the original Italian. Both performances will include supertitles in English.

The production offers Mannes students the experience of working with a group of world-class opera professionals, including Laura Alley (stage director), Roger Hanna (set designer), Helen E. Rogers (costume designer), Jeff Davis (lighting designer), and Amanda Miller (makeup and wig designer). Liana Brooke, a postgraduate professional studies student singing the role of Parasha in Mavra, is also excited by the chance to perform with her Mannes colleagues.

“I have so much love for this school,” says Brooke. “This is both the most supportive and the most talented group of young professionals I’ve ever worked with. I’m so excited to perform with these people I’m honored to call my friends.”

Igor Meets Gioachino will be presented twice on Wednesday, December 19: in a semi-staged matinee at 1:30 p.m. and a fully staged performance at 7:30 p.m. Both performances take place in Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse (East 68th Street between Park and Lexington). Admission is free, but tickets are required; call the Kaye Box Office at 212.772.4448.