Pocket Opera at Notre Dame Celebrates with Pippin’s “Orpheus in the Underworld,” February 22 and 23

Belmont, CA, February 14, 2008 — San Francisco’s Pocket Opera and NDNU’s Department of Music and Vocal Arts celebrate their new training program for young artists, Pocket Opera at Notre Dame (POND), with one of Donald Pippin’s best and best loved English settings: Orpheus in the Underworld, February 22 and 23.

In this brilliant 1858 Parisian satire of celebrities facing the whims of “Public Opinion,” the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice is turned upside down. Urged on by Public Opinion, personified by a powerful mezzo-soprano, the brilliant Orpheus and the gods and goddesses of Olympus follow Eurydice to Hades, where, in Pippin’s words, “all hell breaks loose.” Orpheus torments Eurydice with his violin-playing, Eurydice buzzes through boredom in a rousing duet with a fly, and a rousing can-can celebrates the happy surprise ending. The performance is in Pippin’s English setting, narrated by Pippin himself, and accompanied by the Pocket Philharmonic.

“Offenbach transforms the classic Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice into an irreverent parody,” said Debra Lambert, NDNU’s Chair of the Department of Music and Vocal Arts. “It’s great fun, a must-see.”

NDNU Acting President, Judith Maxwell Greig, expressed that the University is honored to participate with Pippin and the Pocket Opera. “Pippin’s POND takes our collaboration with the community in new and exciting directions,” Greig said.

The music is by Jacques Offenbach, English lyrics and book by Donald Pippin, Stage Direction by Greg Fritsch, Musical Direction by Sean Bart, Choreography by Dottie Lester-White, Costuming by Katherine Irvine Mills, and Stage-Manager Marisol Urbano. Pocket Opera Artistic Director, Donald Pippin oversees the production, assisted by Debra Lambert.

The cast includes Francesca Camus as Public Opinion, Julia Louise Hosack as Eurydice, David Greenbaum as Orpheus, Nicholas Patton as Pluto, Alexis Flores as Cupid, Laurie Nellesen as Venus, Timothy Rhein & Michael Reed As Jupiter, Eric Carter* as Mars, Kelly Jean Hammond as Diana, Adia Griffith as Juno, Vanessa Bautista as Minerva, Daniel Lloyd Pias as Bacchus, Kristopher Hauck as Mercury, and Martin Rojas-Dietrich John Styx. Demi-goddesses and Can-Can Dancers: Shannon Kilpatrick, and Alanna Pinell.

Pocket Opera at Notre Dame (“POND”) is a tiered training program for young vocalists. It includes the “Pocket Opera Studio,” an apprentice vocal performance program for graduate students on the brink of a career, and the “Pippin Opera Workshop,” a training opportunity for undergraduate and less experienced vocalists. NDNU students rehearse and perform in a true apprenticeship with Pocket Opera’s professionals on the NDNU campus, at the Florence Gould Theatre in San Francisco and at the historic Napa Valley Opera House. Young singers provide performance and dance skills to the company, and receive academic credit for their work as part of their curriculum for graduation. NDNU provides additional creative support to Pocket Opera with stage directors, music director/pianists, and costume design from the faculty, and stage management and crew assistance from qualified students.

“Our mutual mission is to present opera that communicates to contemporary audiences, to provide professional level training, apprenticeship, and performing opportunities for young singing actors, and to develop new audiences for opera through community outreach and education,” said Lambert.

Orpheus in the Underworld begins at 7:30 p.m. in the NDNU Theatre located on the University campus at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont. Tickets cost $25 general admission, students and seniors $15. Tickets are available at the door, or can be purchased in advance. For more information, call the Box Office at (650) 508-3729 or concerts@ndnu.edu.