NDNU and Pocket Opera Present Handel’s “Xerxes,” April 6

Belmont, CA, March 31, 2008 — Notre Dame de Namur University and Pocket Opera will present a concert-style performance of Handel’s “Xerxes,” narrated by San Francisco arts icon, Donald Pippin, April 6 at 2 p.m. in Ralston Hall Mansion Ballroom.

In the words of Mr. Pippin: “….A view into the private life of Xerxes, king of Persia (currently known as Iran), leader of an ill-fated invasion of Greece, and a man to whom you say “no” at your own risk.” After a brief glimpse of the beautiful Romilda, Xerxes has fallen passionately in love. Because it is far beneath the dignity of a king to do his own wooing, he hits upon his brother to be his spokesman–an unfortunate choice, since his brother is already secretly engaged to the lady. To complicate matters, Romilda’s sister is in love with this same brother, and has no scruple about doing what it takes to get him for herself. A further complication ensues when Xerxes’ fiancée arrives on the scene determined to find out what is going on. Xerxes clearly has more important things to think about than how to win a war.

“Donald’s version of Handel is in a lighter than usual vein, yet inspired as always,” said Debra Lambert, NDNU’s Chair of the Music and Vocal Arts Department. “Time spent with Donald is always an unforgettable experience.”

Pocket Opera and NDNU have been partners in opera productions and training since 2004, with their first production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute.”  The collaboration has since grown with Pocket Opera at Notre Dame (“POND”), 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.

NDNU Acting President, Judith Maxwell Greig, said 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 performance is part of the Ralston Performers Series. NDNU is located at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont. Tickets cost $34-$37 general admission, seniors $31-$34, student rush $20. For more information contact the Pocket Opera Box Office at (415) 972-8930.