Craving coloratura

Students of song eagerly await the 22nd International Opera Workshop, which will open in Tel Aviv.

opera good 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
opera good 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Opera lovers almost come to blows over tickets for the master classes, concerts and fully staged-on-a-shoestring operas that constitute the annual International Opera Workshop. This year, its 22nd, the workshop will take place in Tel Aviv from July 7 to August 2. Some 80 young professional singers, about half of them from abroad, relish their month-long exposure to the kind of top-notch teachers, coaches and directors most of them normally only dream of. These include world-famous baritone Håkan Hagegård, whose master classes enchanted all last year, mezzo-soprano Mignon Dunn, who's taught here since the beginning, as well as vocal coaches Ruth Falcon and Giovanna Canetti, both singers with illustrious careers behind them and who join the faculty for the first time. Then there are directors John Norris and Giovanna Maresta, diction coach Bob Cowart - all old timers - and not least, Joan Dornemann, head vocal coach at New York's Metropolitan Opera and the lady who dreamed up the whole project. She was avidly supported by then-Tel Aviv mayor Shlomo Lahat, when the renewed Israel Opera was in its infancy. Dornemann chooses the opera productions with an eye to the students' vocal range. This year, she has some promising coloratura sopranos, including Mari Moria of Japan, who's already sung the Queen of the Night at the Met. She'll sing the title role in Donizetti's tragic Lucia di Lammermoor, in which the heroine goes mad in one of opera's most spectacular arias (July 29, August 1). Two other coloraturas will sing the Queen in Mozart's The Magic Flute (July 27, 30). Additionally, Dornemann typically likes to offer something new. Mark Adamo is a young American composer whose Little Women, his adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's famous novel, made huge waves when it premiered in Houston in 1998. The workshop production (July 31) is directed by Lawrence Edelson, who did it for New York City Opera in 2003. There will also be a meeting with Adamo (July 27 at 6 p.m.). The event will also feature two Mascagni operas, L'amico Fritz (July 28) and the one-act Zanetto (July 26) - and to round out the month, the gala on August 2 will allow the singers to perform all their party pieces. The workshop presentations take place at the Tel Aviv Music Center in Jaffa except for the gala, which is at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center, and the free concert at the Pisga Garden in Jaffa on July 19, at which the Israel Chamber Orchestra will accompany the singers. Tickets used to be cheap, but economics have driven up the prices. They range from NIS 45 for a master class to NIS 69-189 for the gala.