Lawrence Opera Theatre’s Eighth Season Celebrates Faces of Love with a New Look
LAWRENCE, KS – July 5, 2017 – Lawrence Opera Theatre (LOT) is pleased to announce its 8th Summer Festival Season, Faces of Love, which runs from August 11th – 20th, 2017. This season LOT celebrates love in its many guises: love at first sight, mother love, childhood infatuation, lust, unrequited love, and love of country. With the new season comes a new look: LOT’s dynamic, vivid logo, which strengthens the company’s brand of presenting innovative programs and bringing old works to life in new and vibrant productions.
Season 2017 programs
This summer ’s fully-staged opera production is W. A. Mozart’s well-known Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), a story of love and dedication overcoming trials and separation. The music will be sung in German, but director Grant Preisser has created new English dialogue to fit in with his avant-garde concept of the opera. Preisser’s career has started to take off, and he has spent the last two summers working at Music Academy of the West, where he was Assistant Director for two productions in 2017. He has also done scenic and costume design for Opera Orlando.
Preisser wanted to retain the “fantastical elements” of the opera, yet wanted to find a way to rationalize its “magical” moments. He also felt an obligation to respect the ritualistic aspects of the work. This combination of ideas led him to set the opera at the annual Burning Man event. This 10-day ‘gathering’ in the Nevada desert is influenced by ten principles, which include “radical inclusion,” civic responsibility, and leaving no trace. Preisser has developed the opera’s characters and their conflicts to fit into this landscape, and an unexpected casting twist plants many of the opera’s issues and love/hate relationships firmly in the 21st century.
University of Kansas D.M.A. conducting candidate, Raffaele Cipriano, conducts the performances. He will lead a chamber ensemble of area musicians in a reduced scoring of the work prepared by Theatre Music Editions in England, a company which specializes in re-orchestrations of operas for smaller companies. The third member of the creative team is Tyler Gallegos-Lessin, who provides scenic and lighting design. Gallegos-Lessin created a chilling and mysterious insane asylum setting for 2016’s Dido & Aeneas, and his design for this year promises to be equally evocative and creative.
LOT presents two other programs at Theatre Lawrence, who has been presenting partner since 2014. The partnership enters its fourth year with increased audiences and a first-time subscription package, offering a 10% discount on tickets and 50% savings on fees with the purchase of tickets to four separate programs. The evening of scenes and arias, titled Faces of Love, explores love in its many guises: from the comfort of sisterly love expressed in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, to Abigaille’s love of power in Verdi’s Nabucco, from simple Nemorino’s unrequited love in Donizetti’s Elixir of Love, to the bittersweet resolution of a love triangle in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. In addition to popular opera composers such as Handel, Rossini and Puccini, the diverse program features several contemporary composers, including Jake Heggie and John Adams, so there are sure to be new discoveries for the audience. Continuing with the Faces of Love theme, the popular musical theatre cabaret, A Fine Romance, provides some new insights into a variety of relationships. The audience will hear about a love triangle in Chess, yearn for the excitement of newlywed bliss in The Last Five Years, and ache in the frustrated yearnings of two Prince Charmings in Into the Woods. Familiar favorites from Guys & Dolls, West Side Story, and Funny Girl round out the varied program which also features lesser-known, but humorous contemporary cabaret songs.
The elegant Castle Tea Room is once again the setting for an intimate parlor concert. In celebration of Franz Schubert’s 220th birthday, A Schubert Serenade presents some of his most loved works, from the angst of Gretchen am Spinnrade to the epic ride of Erlkönig. The second half of the program offers selections from Die Zauberflöte, to give the audience a taste of the full production. Ticket prices include an intermission wine and dessert reception, catered by Maceli’s, which can be enjoyed while strolling through the building. This event sold out last year, so early reservations are recommended.
Free community events
In its ongoing mission to make opera more accessible and approachable to people, LOT returns to favorite Downtown Lawrence venues for a variety of free community events. A mini-concert at Signs of Life Café provides a forum for the younger singers to gain performing experience in a casual setting. After the successful “Final Friday” debut at the Lawrence Public Library, LOT returns with a Sunday afternoon teatime concert. Finally, a master class led by stage director, Grant Preisser, will be held at the Lawrence Jewish Community Center, which was a presenting partner for LOT’s 2013 season.
New funding for a new look
This year LOT was proud to be selected to receive its first Transient Guest Tax Grant, administered by the City of Lawrence with assistance from eXplore Lawrence. With the majority of funds to be used for marketing purposes, LOT set out to clarify its brand and image, strengthening its connection to Lawrence while presenting itself as a dynamic and creative organization. To design a new logo and website, LOT chose to work with Trent Flory of Flory Design, Inc., whose logos for the City of Lawrence, Douglas County Fair and Eagle Bend Golf Course are instantly recognizable. After researching LOT and learning about the organization’s history and goals, Flory presented a design which immediately stood out. “The Phoenix symbol in the logo I designed for Lawrence Opera Theatre is intended to represent something beautiful, elegant and dynamic – emerging and overcoming. Opera is not something typically found in small cities – especially with the high standard of artistic production that LOT holds itself to. But here it is, in its 8th season, in Lawrence.” The new logo will be seen in both its primary version, as well as a social-media friendly format.
The grant funds are also supporting an improved website which will help to solidify LOT’s brand and image, and will contain a mailing list sign-up and opportunity to make a donation. An announcement will be made when the new site goes live.
New York Metropolitan Opera Tenor, Hugo Vera, is the founder and Director of LOT, and although he teaches at University of Arizona and performs around the country, his heart has remained in Lawrence since receiving his D.M.A. at KU in 2010. He returns every summer to direct the festival, and is excited by the growth of the company. This year saw 30% increase in applicants over the prior year. Singers from 18 states, including California, Florida and New York, auditioned in Lawrence, in Arizona, and by video submission. Nearly 40 singers convene in Lawrence the first week of August, and rehearse and perform the entire season’s repertoire in only two and a half weeks. Unlike many summer programs, LOT does not charge the singers a fee to participate. In addition, the company tries to find local housing for singers from out of town to help keep costs down for the young artists, and many are put up in private homes around town.
Vera stands by the mission of the company to fill the void of opera and music during the summer season in Lawrence and the surrounding area. Vera said, “Lawrence Opera Theatre shall continue to present fun, new and innovative works, and to involve the community to make it part of the Lawrence landscape.”
Lawrence Opera Theatre (LOT) was founded in 2009 by Metropolitan Opera tenor, Hugo Vera, to
fill a void in the performing arts scene during the summer season in the Lawrence / Kansas City area. The first season consisted of an evening of opera scenes with twelve singers. Since then, LOT has experienced continued growth in programming, and for the past four years has offered a fully-staged production, concerts of art songs and arias, as well as a musical theatre cabaret. Participants have increased to as many as 70 singers, featuring emerging vocal artists, area high school and college students, and members of the community who audition for a chance to perform. All participants have the opportunity to work with experienced professionals with national performing and teaching careers, including singers, stage directors, and scenic/lighting designers. LOT has continued its mission to provide a broad spectrum of music, drama and cultural offerings to Lawrence, Douglas County, and the surrounding region at affordable prices. LOT is in residence at Theatre Lawrence, but also performs at many venues throughout Lawrence.
Lawrence Opera Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Tickets at https://theatrelawrence.showare.com or 785-843-7469
For more information on events and to see the latest news from LOT, check out their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LawrenceOperaTheatre.
Stay tuned for news about the new website at www.lawrenceopera.org, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks.