NDNU Opera Celebration Weekend, April 13-15

Belmont, CA, April 5, 2007 — “The Merry Wives of Windsor” complete with passion, pathos, and comedy kicks-off “Opera Celebration Weekend” at Notre Dame de Namur University, April 13-15 as the University continues its partnership with San Francisco’s professional opera ensemble, Pocket Opera.

The NDNU/Pocket Opera relationship has offered students an extraordinary opportunity to “learn by doing,” working as apprentices in a professional environment, with professional expectations. Accomplished student apprentice artists combine with a Pocket Opera professional cast and an 8-member professional chamber orchestra (The Pocket Philharmonic), singing Otto Nicolai’s bright and brilliant score, in an English setting by Donald Pippin, Pocket Opera’s founder and Artistic Director. Pocket Opera returns to NDNU on Sunday, April 15 to present Handel’s “Flavio” in concert in the Ralston Hall Mansion Ballroom. A chamber orchestra accompanies, Donald Pippin narrates the story.

Showtimes for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” are April 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the NDNU Theatre. Flavio will be held April 15 at 2 p.m. in the Ralston Hall Mansion Ballroom. The University is located at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont.

“The Merry Wives of Windsor” was written in German by Otto Nicolai in 1844, it is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play that chronicles the romantic mishaps of Sir John Falstaff. Flavio tells the story of, in the words of Donald Pippin, “…one lecherous king, two ambitious fathers who are political rivals competing for the same prestigious office, and four young lovers caught in the crossfire from which they emerge miraculously unscathed.”

Debra Lambert, NDNU’s Chair of the Department of Music and Arts, explains that the learning curve is tremendous when young artists work beside professionals. “The young singers absorb the level of commitment, preparation, and skill the professionals bring,” said Lambert. “The professionals help the students, and remember why they went into the business in the first place. The production gains beautiful young voices and the sheer love of performing from everyone. You don’t have to tell anyone anything–you just bring those two groups of people together, and magic happens.”

The weekend will also be held in conjunction with Pocket Opera’s 30th Anniversary Season and marks NDNU’s partnership with the professional opera ensemble that produces operatic works in intimate, intelligible productions at affordable prices. Donald Pippin, San Francisco arts icon and artistic director of Pocket Opera has spent the majority of his artistic life translating more than 80 operas into English, making them understandable and accessible for all to enjoy. He has said that there is “a whole category of opera where, if you don’t know the story on the way to the theater, you won’t know it on the way home, either.” Pippin will receive an honorary doctorate from NDNU during the University’s commencement ceremony on May 5.

The NDNU/Pocket Opera partnership began in 2004 with a joint production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.” Productions since include “The Merry Widow,” “Genevieve” (the premiere of Donald Pippin’s English setting of this Offenbach rarity), and “The Tales of Hoffmann,” performed at the NDNU Theater in Belmont, the Florence Gould at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the Montgomery Theater in San Jose, and the Napa Opera House.

This year also celebrates the beginning of the NDNU/Pocket Opera Apprentice program, a three-tier program under the umbrella of NDNU’s Department of Music and Vocal Arts. The program will offer scholarship assistance to accepted students for performance in NDNU/Pocket productions. Students will be accepted by audition to the NDNU Music & Vocal Arts programs at the Workshop, Apprentice, and Artist levels of the company.

Tickets for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” cost $20 general admission, $10 students and seniors. For more information, call NDNU’s Department of Music and Vocal Arts at (650) 508-3429 or fcamus@ndnu.edu. “The Merry Wives of Windsor” will also be presented April 27 at 7:30 p.m., April 29 at 2 p.m., and May 6 at 2 p.m. at the Florence Gould Theater at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. Tickets for “Flavio” are available for $35 through Pocket Opera at (415) 972-8930. A “Meet the Artist” reception in the formal dining room follows the performance for an additional $25.