Wichita Grand Opera 06-07 Season

August 26, 2006

Saturday, August 26 2006 11:00 PM

Celebrating a Star-Studded 5th Season




WICHITA – August 27, 2006.  Wichita Grand Opera proudly unveils its 2006-2007 season, in celebration of its 5th Season Anniversary, showcasing four fabulous grand operas and one great classical ballet.  “It has the promise of a show-stopping line-up and is possibly our finest season ever,” says General Director Parvan Bakardiev.  All performances will be performed at Century II Performing Arts Center, the home of Wichita Grand Opera.  The productions are:


Verdi’s La Traviata – Saturday, December 2, 2006, 7:30pm – Concert Hall

Starring Cristina Nassif and Gaston Rivero

Puccini’s Tosca – Friday, March 9, 2007, 7:30pm – Convention Hall

Starring Annalisa Raspagliosi and Samuel Ramey

Puccini’s Turandot – Saturday, March 10, 2007, 7:30 pm – Mary Jane Teall Theatre

Starring Mariana Zvetkova and Bjung Lee

Tchaikovsky’s SwanLake – Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 7:30pm – Concert Hall

Starring Irina Golomeeva and Igor Afanasiev

Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet – Saturday, April 28, 2007, 7:30pm – Concert Hall

Starring Larissa Yudina and Hector Sandoval


Wichita Grand Opera’s appreciative patrons have come to expect beautiful singing, lavish set and costumes, brilliant stars, passionate drama, and exciting music.  This 5thseason promises to exceed all others. Season subscriptions are on sale immediately and there are three price ranges and three plans from which to choose.


Season Subscriptions:                                        Best               Better             Good

Plan A – Save 25% – All 5 Productions                  $300               $188               $113

Plan B – Save 20% – Choose 4 Productions           $256               $160               $96

Plan C – Save 15% – Choose 3 Productions           $204               $129               $78


Single tickets may be purchased with a 10% Early Bird discount until October 30, 2006 for $72, $45, and $27.  To purchase season subscriptions or Early Bird single tickets call the Wichita Grand Opera Box Office at 316.262.8054 or go online at www.selectaseat.com.  For more information about the Wichita Grand Opera 2006-2007 season visit WGO’s website at www.WichitaGrandOpera.org.

About the Opera Stories and Stars. . . . .




The Story. Wichita Grand Opera’s 5th season opens with one of the three most performed operas in North America, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, on December 2nd.  The timeless story of ill-matched lovers takes place in Paris in the 1850’s. Violetta, a beautiful but sickly courtesan, and Alfredo, a handsome young aristocrat, fall in love.  His father Germond disapproves of the disparity between their social standings and secretly convinces Violetta to leave Alfredo to save his family’s honor.   Alfredo, believing she has left him for another man is angry and heartbroken.  In the end Alfredo learns of her sacrifice and declares his love forever, but it is too late.  Her illness has advanced and she dies in his arms.   

The Stars.  WGO’s production features electrifying American soprano Cristina Nassif as Violetta; the dashing Uruguayan tenor Gaston Rivero as Alfredo; and stentorian American baritone William Andrew Stuckey as Germond.  Earlier this year Ms. Nassif received critical acclaim for her performances of Violetta.  The Washington Post wrote, “…a powerful and expressive voice and a stage presence that can only be described as electric.”  Mr. Rivero rose to fame with his interpretation of Rudolfo in Baz Luhrmann’s stunning Broadway adaptation of La Boheme.  According to BBC he is “a true Italianate Tenor.”   Mr. Stuckey performs leading roles with Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Washington National Opera, to mention a few.  Wichita Grand Opera Orchestra and cast will be led by the outstanding young German conductor, Ekhart Wycik, who made his American debut with WGO last season conducting The Magic Flute.  Mr. Wycik is principal conductor at the famed Dortmund Opera in Germany.




The season continues with two Puccini masterpieces in two days, making it possible for opera lovers nationwide to enjoy two operas in one weekend.   Hotel-Performance packages are available.  On March 9thWGO presents Puccini’s captivating and romantic tragedy, Tosca, with a star-studded cast.


The Story.  Set in Rome in the summer of 1800, the ill-fated lovers, Floria Tosca and Mario Cavaradossi, are separated when he is arrested for hiding a freedom fighter.  The police chief Baron Scarpia pressures Tosca to make love to him in exchange for Cavaradossi’s freedom.  She consents long enough to obtain what she believes to be his freedom, and then kills him to save her virtue.  When she learns that Scarpia had deceived her and had already given the order for Cavaradossi to be executed, she commits suicide by jumping from the tower wall to her death.


The Stars.  Internationally acclaimed opera superstar and Metropolitan Opera Great, Samuel Ramey, makes his Kansas opera debut in one of his famous signature roles, Baron Scarpia.  Mr.Ramey, a Kansas native, is the foremost interpreter and recorded artist of bass and bass-baritone operatic repertoire. He can be found regularly on the stages of the world’s great opera houses.  According to the Los Angeles Times, “Samuel Ramey is a National treasure!”  The widely acclaimed Italian soprano diva,

Annalisa Raspagliosi, who opens the Los Angeles Opera season as Elisabetta in Don Carlos, makes a triumphant return to Wichita to star in the title role of Tosca.  Ms. Raspagliosi has been adored on the WGO stages as Violetta in La Traviata and in the unforgettable gala concert with the one and only Luciano Pavarotti.  The passionately expressive voice of Bulgarian tenor Kamen Chanev will be heard in the role of Cavaradossi, singing two of the most beautiful tenor arias composed by Puccini.  Mr. Chanev appears regularly in opera houses in Europe, Asia, and the U.S.  Principal conductor of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Nayden Todorov, will conduct this production.






The Story.  OnMarch 10th, WGO presents Puccini’s magnificent oriental fairytale, Turandot.  The story is set in the ancient “Forbidden City” of Peking, and is based on the myth of the “riddle of the sphinx.”  The cruel Princess Turandot has promised to marry the prince who can answer three riddles, but those that try and fail would be doomed.  Many men fell to their deaths until the handsome Prince Calaf correctly answers the riddles and vows to win her love.  Not wanting to force the Princess to marry him, he offers her until daybreak to discover his name or die like the other princes before him.  When Turandot is unsuccessful in learning his name, Calaf scolds her for her cruelty, but he tells her that love can make her human.  After a kiss, Calaf reveals his name and she announces it to her court.  The two rejoice with the kingdom and they live happily ever after.


The Stars.  The cast features the famous Bulgarian soprano Mariana Zvetkova as Princess Turandot; Korean tenor Bjung Lee as Calaf, and Japanese soprano Noboru Aomori as Liu.  Ms. Zvetkova’s international career has thrilled audiences at La Scala Milan, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Michigan Opera, and Tokyo National Opera, among others.  She has recorded on Deutsche Grammophon under the baton of world renouned maestro Giuseppe Sinopoli.  Mr. Lee, a laureate of many international vocal competitions including the famous Enrico Caruso Competition in Napoli, debuted as Calaf at the Florence Opera House in Italy.  Ms. Aomori performs on major European stages and in 2003 recorded with the world famous baritone, Leo Nucci.  Revered Spanish maestro Jose Luiz Pareja will conduct the orchestra.


Swan Lake


The Story.  Following the tradition of European opera houses, the Wichita Grn opera will present its first full-scale ballet performance on April 3rd.  Based in Moscow, the Russian National Ballet Theatre and Orchestra, a company of one hundred dancers and myusicians, will perform Tchaikovsky’s most famous and critically acclaimed ballet, Swan Lake.  This beautiful fairytale conveys the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse, and only true love’s kiss can release the spell.


The Stars.  Irina Golomeevastars as Princess Odette, and Igor Afanasiev stars as Prince Siegfried.  According to the Palm Beach Daily News “the RNVBT is known for having extraordinary dancing, and magnificent scenery and costumes.”  Swan Lake features the original choreography of Marius Petipa, which has been recreated by choreographer Vladimir Moiseev.  The orchestra is conducted by the distinguished Russian Maestro Pavel Ponomariov.


Romeo and Juliet

The Story.  The season closes with Gounod’s famous interpretation of Shakespeare’s immortal story, Romeo and Juliet, on April 28th.  Popularized by theatre, ballet, opera, and many Hollywood films, the story of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous and well-known love stories of all time in Western history.  The action takes place in Verona, Italy in the 1500’s and the story concerns two noble families, the Capulets and the Montagues that have feuded for generations. The very young star-crossed lovers, Juliet Capulet and Romeo Montagues, will do anything to be together.  However, it takes their tragic suicides to end the long conflict between their parents and ancestors.

The Stars.  Showcased in this WGO production are the beautiful Kirov Opera star, Larissa Yudina as Juliet, and handsome Mexican tenor, Hector Sandoval as Romeo.    Since 1998, the beautiful rising star, Ms. Yudina, has performed leading soprano roles at the Kirov Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia.  She will partner with the famous French tenor Roberto Alagna in Rigoletto as Gilda prior to her arrival in Wichita.  Last season she made her triumphant debut with the Wichita Grand Opera singing the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor.  In 2006 Ms. Yudina will appear in a DVD production of the Bastille Opera in Paris in Il viaggio a Reims by Rossini.  The young and popular tenor, Hector Sandoval, currently at home in Vienna, made his operatic debut in Mexico City, and now performs leading roles in many European opera houses.  In the United States, he has performed under the baton of Placido Domingo in both Washington, DC, and Los Angeles.  Italian Maestro Diego Crovetti will conduct the Wichita Grand Opera Orchestra and Cast.