Live at the Smith, “The Magic Flute”

American Landmark Festivals announces the formation of Geneva Light Opera, its exciting new initiative dedicated to presenting fine operatic performances in the Finger Lakes, and its inaugural production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beloved opera, “The Magic Flute,” at 7:30 p.m. on July 24 and 26th and at 3:00 on July 27 at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St.Love and loyalty propel Mozart’s final opera as we journey with Prince Tamino through trials and tribulations, which are overcome by perseverance and victory. A brilliant combination of comedy and profundity, it is no wonder that this operatic fantasy sits high among the most popular operas of all time. A vindictive queen, a lovesick bird catcher, and a clan of high priests enliven Tamino’s quest for his newfound love, Pamina.Sung in English, this fully staged production is directed by Albert Bergeret, founder and artistic director of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, and features a talented cast led by Metropolitan Opera veteran basso Ryan Allen as the high priest Sarastro and popular baritone Jimi James as the comical bird-catcher Papageno.Also featured are tenor Cameron Smith as Prince Tamino and soprano Sarah Gilbert as his beloved Pamina. Coloratura soprano Alexis Cregger is the stunning Queen of the Night with soprano Ilya Speranza and mezzo sopranos Suzanne Murphy and Andrea McGaugh as her Three Ladies. Tenor Steve Kane appears as the wicked Monastatos.Soprano Sarah Caldwell Smith appears in the delightful role of Papagena, the sweet-heart arranged for the goofy bird-catcher. Sarastro’s holy men include bass Fred Diengott, tenor Llewellyn Lafford and baritone Joshua James.The choruses have been prepared by conductor Yunn Shan Ma from the Eastman School of Music and include area singers Garsevan Bekauri, Giorgi Bekauri, Susan and David Belding, Linda and Richard Cox, Kelly Craig, Rebecca Frank, Andrew Hellmund, Renee and Edgar Kemp, Craig Risser, Montrose Streeter, Rebecca Truscello, Marilyn Watson, Rachel Weil, and Mary Williams.Geneva students Tamari Bekauri, Marilla Lipker and Ella Robinson are featured as the Three Spirits, who hold off two suicides and lead the principles of this delightful fairy-tale to a happy ending.Featured in the pit are musicians Anthony Calabrese on Glockenspiel, flute soloist Paul Schliffer, pianist Elizabeth Rodgers, and Duo Pianists Hilda Lam Collins and Meg Cognetta Heaton.All children attending each performance will receive a free, souvenir wooden flute courtesy of Geneva Light Opera as they exit the theatre.Additionally, the first 35 children attending the Sunday matinee are invited to enjoy a “Magic Float” in The Smith’s lower-level cabaret courtesy of Friendly’s Ice Cream Co. Coupons for a free ice cream float to be served during the intermission will be handed out at the box office.Hailed by New York Magazine as “the leading custodian of Gilbert & Sullivan classics,” Albert Bergeret directs and conducts the entire 13-play repertory of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players and is resident stage director for the New York Grand Opera in Manhattan. His comic sensibilities have been hilariously displayed at the Smith Opera House in recent productions of “Cosi fan tutte,” “La Cenerentola,” “The Barber of Seville,” and last summer’s “Don Pasquale.””Affordable tickets to this fully staged opera – usually the most lavishly expensive of all classical performing arts – have been subsidized by the generosity of opera enthusiasts in this area and New York City,” stated American Landmark Festival Executive Director Gena Rangel.Tickets are $25 general admission, $40 per couple, $15 for students and senior citizens, and are free children K-12. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for the Saturday performance. They are $50 each and $85 per couple. Tickets are available at The Smith box office, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m., by calling 315-781-5483 or online at www.thesmith.org. They are also available at Area Records & Music in Geneva, Mobile Music in Canandaigua and The Copy Shop in Seneca Falls.”Great singing and impressive voices make an operatic experience memorable. And, with humor and comedy added, you have a magical reason to check out the historic Smith Opera House on the last weekend in July,” added director Al Bergeret. “The Smith’s exceptional acoustics make it the perfect venue for live performances, dramatic and musical, even more so since it was air-conditioned last year.”This production of “The Magic Flute” is presented by Geneva Light Opera, under the sponsorship of American Landmark Festivals in honor of its founding director conductor/pianist Francis Heilbut, whose knowledge of and enthusiasm for opera, Mozart, and The Smith remain an inspiration.American Landmark Festivals is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the presentation of cultural and performing arts events in landmark venues, including the 1894 Smith Opera House. For more information, visit www.AmericanLandmarkFestivals.org.

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