Lucrezia

By William Bolcom

May 6, 9, 11 and 13, 2017

Libretto by Mark Campbell

The 50-minute romp is a zarzuela riff on Machiavelli’s story “La Mandragola”, in which Lucrezia, an intelligent seductress, takes charge of her own needs and tricks her suitors into not only giving her pleasure but also their money. A game of seduction and love, riddled with humor and coy femininity, “Lucrezia” features the iconic art song style of Bolcom (“McTeague”, “A View from the Bridge” and “A Wedding”, all commissioned and premiered by Lyric Opera of Chicago), with a pun-laced libretto by Mark Campbell (“Silent Night”). The piece is performed by four hands at two pianos.

In its unique site-specific style, the CFO production places the audience around the action, with a pre-show cabaret — complete with cash bar — featuring the cast of “Lucrezia” singing a selection of Bolcom’s best art songs. “Audiences loved our recent take on Bernstein’s “Trouble in Tahiti”, which paired that jazzy opera with a pre-show set of jazz standards,” says Chicago Fringe Opera Artistic Director George Cederquist. “Our performances of “Lucrezia” take that idea to the next level, capturing the sexiness and silliness of Bolcom’s wonderful music and Campell’s cheeky text by placing it in the immersive and convivial setting. We’re thrilled to return to the Chopin Theater for this event.”

The opera features five CFO season artists: Ashley Armstrong (from CFO’s fall production “Song from the Uproar”) in the title role, including Matthan Ring Black (baritone), Gabriel Di Gennaro (baritone), Diana Stoic (soprano) and Tobias Wright (tenor) in the comic cast. CFO Music Director Catherine O’Shaughnessy conducts from the piano, with stage direction by Cederquist and designs by CFO company member Brad Caleb Lee.

Cast

Ashley Armstrong

Lucrezia

Ashley Armstrong

Praised for her expressiveness and richly colorful tone, mezzo-soprano Ashley Armstrong is known for her musicianship as well as her scholarship. Driven by the desire to inspire in others a curiosity for more knowledge about music, she seizes every opportunity to share her vocal talents. This motivation has afforded her many unique opportunities to sing for esteemed individuals such as his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, and at such celebrated locations as St. Paul’s Cathedral at Ground Zero, and Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre.

Ms. Armstrong begins the 2016/2017 season as an Artist with Chicago Fringe Opera, performing in Missy Mazzoli’s Song from the Uproar, an opera inspired by the journals of Isabelle Eberhardt, detailing her fantastic seven-year odyssey through the desserts of North Africa; and Ted Rorem’s Our Town, a tongue in cheek commentary on American life, based on the play by Thornton Wilder about the small fictional town of Grover’s Corners and the daily lives of its citizens. Her other engagements include Beethoven 9 with Chicago combined choirs, and a series of concerts in collaboration with Old Capitol Opera.

Ms. Armstrong made her operatic debut in 2011 as Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Art Center, and this last year, she received her Chicago premiere at CCPA where she was featured as The Wife in Thomas Pasatieri’s The Women, Suzette in Milton Granger’s Bluebeard’s Waiting Room, and Ottavia in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Other opera credits include Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors and Azucena in a gala presentation of Verdi’s Il trovatore. Additionally, she presented or has been featured in recitals for the Chicago College of Performing Arts, the University of Northern Iowa, and the Chicago Art Institute. In 2012 she won the senior division of the Iowa chapter of NATS student auditions and the next year she took home second place in the graduate division.

Currently a student of Allan Glassman, Ms. Armstrong received her M.M. from the Chicago College of Performing Arts in May of 2016. Before that, she graduated magna cum laude and Pi Kappa Lambda with a B.A. in Music and Theatre from the University of Northern Iowa, where she studied with Jeffrey Brich. During her time as a student she also gave world premieres of many works, including: “Could” by Pete Fernandez, Just Ann by Rebecca Burkhardt and Cynthia Goatley, Joy by John Schwabe, and Festival te Deum by David Childs.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Lucrezia 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016

Diana Stoic

Annunciata

Diana Stoic

Soprano Diana Stoic is a Chicago-area native who is garnering acclaim on opera and concert stages in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. For her portrayal of Cunegonde in Candide with the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Stoic was described as “utterly luminous.”

Ms. Stoic is a member of the Supplementary Chorus at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She last appeared in their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in 2015. She performs with many local opera companies in the Chicago-area, most recently the First Lady in The Magic Flute with Petite Opera Productions. She is a member of the Lira Ensemble, the nation’s only professional organization specializing in Polish music.

She has sung extensively with Des Moines Metro Opera, performing mainstage roles in their productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Tosca. With DMMO she has covered leading roles including Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Alexandra in Blitzstein’s Regina.

A frequent soloist with the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Ms. Stoic has performed a program of Czech songs and arias, Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5, and the roles of Sandman/Dew Fairy in concert performances of Hansel and Gretel. She has also performed with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic, Musica Lumina, and Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra.

Ms. Stoic is passionate about introducing young audiences to opera and educating them about classical music. She participated in outreach programs with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Opera Santa Barbara, OPERA Iowa, Opera for the Young, Chicago Opera Playhouse, and is currently a teaching artist with Chicago Opera Theatre.

She completed her Masters of Music from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and received her Bachelor of Music from Simpson College (Indianola, IA). Ms. Stoic has received numerous awards from the Bel Canto Foundation and was a winner in the 2012 Opera Idol Competition.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Annunciata 2017
2016-17 Season Opening Gala Soloist 2016
Song from the Uproar Ensemble 2016
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016

Tobias Wright

Lorenzo

Tobias Wright

Tobias Wright is a native Kansan who is quickly establishing himself as an “immensely talented” performer, possessing a “beautiful tenor voice.” Tobias recently returned from Sarasota Opera where he made his debut as Un Giovanetto in Italo Montemezzi’s rarely performed L’amore dei tre re. At the conclusion of the season he was awarded the Scheininger-Reznick Apprentice Scholarship for an Outstanding Apprentice Artist. Mr. Wright was last seen in Chicago with Light Opera Works in their new production of Die Fledermaus, for which he received praise for his portrayal of Alfred. This summer he will be making his debut with Opera North as Goro in Puccini’s Madama butterfly and Achille in Offenbach’s La belle Hélène.

A passionate performer, Tobias has been featured in opera, concerts, and recordings throughout the United States. Winter of 2016 and fall of 2015 saw Tobias perform with Sarasota Opera as the company finished their Verdi Cycle, becoming the only company in the world to perform all of Verdi’s works in their entirety. In the fall of 2015 Tobias sang the role of Juan in the world premiere of Eustasio Rosales’ Andina at the historic Athenauem Theater in Chicago. The performance and production will be featured in an upcoming film by filmmaker Arlen Parsa, debuting at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. Also scheduled for release later this year is the world premiere of Ross Crean’s The Great God Pan, in which Tobias sang the role of Clarke. The Great God Pan will be released by Navona Records/Naxos of America. Tobias was also a featured soloist in the spring of 2015 with the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland.

Tobias’ stage credits in Chicago include appearances with Chicago Fringe Opera, Light Opera Works, and Northwestern University Opera Theater. Tobias has been a young artist with Sarasota Opera, The National Music Festival, Nevada Opera, Opera in the Ozarks, and Vianden International Music Festival in Luxembourg. He holds a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Voice from the University of Kansas. In addition to his singing credits, Tobias is a co-host of the radio show Opera Box Score, which focuses each week on the world of opera.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Lorenzo 2017
2016 Holiday House Party Soloist 2016
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Baritone, Jazz Trio 2015

Matthan Ring Black

Chucho

Matthan Ring Black

Matthan Ring Black, baritone, holds a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance from Wichita State University and a Professional Diploma from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University where he spent two years as a Young Artist with Chicago Opera Theater. Matthan has recently performed the roles of Don Alvaro and Dandini in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims and La Cenerentola, Huy/The Doctor in the Chicago premiere of Daron Hagen’s Amelia at CCPA and Roderick Usher in a new realization of Debussy’s unfinished La Chute de Maison de Usher.

Matthan is also committed to classical vocal music in recital and concert. He recently performed in song recitals honoring the 50th anniversary of the death of Francis Poulenc and selections from La Traviata and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate the birthdays of Verdi and Britten. Matthan is also passionate about the preservation of art song in English through nontraditional performances of songs from composers such as John Adams, Ernst Bacon, Leonard Bernstein, Jake Heggie, and Lee Hoiby.

Matthan recently made his main stage debut with Chicago Opera Theatre as Vagabond #2 in Carl Orff’s Die Kluge and will be featured as an Apprentice Artist with Opera Southwest this October. Matthan will be also performing the role of Tarquinius in Candid Concert Opera’s The Rape of Lucretia in November. Other performances include Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Sid (Albert Herring), Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte), L’horloge Comtoise (L’enfant et les sortileges), Henry Davis (Street Scene), and The Lord High Chancellor (Iolanthe).

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Chucho 2017
In the Penal Colony The Officer 2016
Fringe’s Holiday House Party Soloist 2015
Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lakeside Soiree Soloist 2015
2014 Christmas Celebration Soloist 2014
The Rape of Lucretia Tarquinius 2014

Gabriel Di Gennaro

Ignacio

Gabriel Di Gennaro

Since moving to Chicago in 2011, Gabriel Di Gennaro has had the pleasure of working with many of the local, vibrant companies in and around Chicago including VOX 3 Collective, Main Street Opera, The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company, /kor/ productions, Opera Ouvert, Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, Music Theater Works, and Thompson Street Opera. This year, the list continues to grow with performances in Floating Opera Company’s composite opera War & Peace, Chicago Fringe Opera’s Lucrezia as Ignacio, and the titular role in Chicago Folks Operetta’s Johnny Johnson.

An avid supporter of new music, Gabriel has performed several regional, American, and world premieres on both the operatic and concert stages. Close collaboration with New York City-based composer Scott Wasserman has birthed two world premieres in a setting of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree and the cycle Even for Wars, a duet of letters written between soldiers and their loved ones. Additional unique performance experiences include Golaud in a lecture recital of Pelléas et Mélisande presented by Richard Stilwell, and The Dance Master/Mars in Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade, the first of many times Gabriel would be featured as both a singer and a dancer in an opera.

In 2012, the Young Singers Foundation selected Gabriel as one of 17 national recipients of their Bev Sellers Memorial Scholarship, helping to further his education at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts. In addition to Roosevelt, Gabriel is an alumnus of the University of Delaware, OperaWorks, and the College Light Opera Company with recent participation in the young artist programs of Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Pittsburgh Festival Opera, and Chicago Summer Opera.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Ignacio 2017

Catherine O'Shaughnessy

Music Director

Catherine O'Shaughnessy

A resident of Chicago, Illinois, Catherine O’Shaughnessy is an active orchestra and opera conductor both in the United States and abroad. In 2010, she made her international professional conducting debut as music director of the Mittelsächsisches Theater’s production of Pyramus und Thisbe in Freiberg, Germany; she has also conducted the Moscow Philharmonic and the Rousse Philharmonic (Rousse, Bulgaria) in concert. Avidly committed to Chicago’s dynamic opera scene, she founded Windy City Opera and conducted its first production (La bohème) in 2015. Additionally, she just completed her first collaboration with The Floating Opera Company and 42nd Parallel as conductor and music director for Don Giovanni. Catherine, a student of William Reber at Arizona State University, holds a B.M. from the University of Michigan and a M.M. from Bowling Green State University. In addition to her musical pursuits, Catherine is passionate about the role of the arts in philosophy and society. She currently serves as co-organizer for two philosophy meet-up groups and presented a paper on the philosophy of passion at the 2013 Humanities Conference at Lincoln University, PA.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Great God Pan Conductor 2017
Lucrezia Conductor 2017
In the Penal Colony Conductor 2016

George Cederquist

Director

George Cederquist

George has directed new productions and opera scenes with Chicago Fringe Opera (where he is the Artistic Director), Pittsburgh Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Main Street Opera, Chicago Summer Opera, North Park University, Roosevelt University, and the Bay View Music Festival.

In September 2015, George launched ‘Opera Box Score’, America’s only weekly talk radio show about opera, broadcast live on WNUR Chicago.

One of ten Americans to receive the 2011-12 German Chancellor Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, George served as a Regieassistent at the Staatstheater Darmstadt during his fellowship in Germany.

George’s training includes an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University, a BA in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University, and a Directing Fellowship at Wolf Trap Opera, as well as participating in the Resident Artist Program at Pittsburgh Opera and in the Merola Opera Program.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

The Great God Pan Director 2018
Lucrezia Director 2017
In the Penal Colony Director 2016
The Turn of the Screw Director 2015
Voices in the Dark, Jazz & Trouble in Tahiti Director 2015
The Rape of Lucretia Director 2014

Brad Caleb Lee

Production Design

Brad Caleb Lee

Brad Caleb Lee is a designer and assistant director whose collaborators, among others, include Chicago Fringe Opera, Filament Theatre, Hell In A Handbag, Pride Films & Plays, Theatre Tuscaloosa, Music Theatre Wales, ELANFrontoio, and Welsh National Opera. He co-designed the award-winning British Pavilion Make/Believe for the 2015 Prague Quadrennial and the subsequent exhibition at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Brad’s design for The Richard Burton Theatre Company’s Dogville was selected as part of World Stage Design 2017. He holds an MA w/Merit from The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and is a member of OISTAT, USITT, and SBTD.

Productions with Chicago Fringe Opera

Lucrezia Production Designer 2017

Critical Acclaim

...one is delighted to find a relatively recent Bolcom opera, "Lucrezia," turning up at the city's alt-opera company. The hourlong sex farce is having a spirited area debut… in the basement of the Chopin Theater, the audience for Saturday's opening performance appeared to be having as much fun as the performers…

Chicago Tribune | Read the Review

..a deliciously droll production of this one-hour romp of an opera..

Chicago Reader | Read the Review

The youthful cast brought breezy energy and full vocal commitment to Saturday’s performance. Ashley Kay Armstrong was aptly cast as Lucrezia, her charismatic, youthful presence and light flexible soprano making mincemeat out of the male schemers.

Chicago Classical Review | Read the Review

If we hadn’t already felt transported out of the everyday, the succession of songsters performing playful works by William Bolcom did more to rope us close.

Picture This Post | Read the Review

Venue

The Chopin Theater

1543 W Division Street Chicago, Illinois 60642