Fall 2011

Even as Chelsea Opera closes its seventh season, we are hard at work preparing a fabulous eighth season! 2010-2011 marked a turning point for Chelsea Opera, as we presented Glory Denied (in its second full professional production) and a double bill of Lee Hoiby’s This is the rill speaking and Bermudas. This season began with Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied. If you saw a performance or read the reviews in either The New York Times or Opera News, you know what a successful production it was. The New York Times called Chelsea Opera “enterprising” and the production “spare and affecting”. Opera News similarly declared the production “small-scale, high-impact”. Audiences were profoundly stirred, as one individual typically commented:

"I was so moved by last night's performance. I found the piece extraordinary,beautiful and devastating. The orchestra [was] glorious, soaring, tender and emotional - as if [it] were a soul, speaking directly to a soul. The singing was heart wrenching and gorgeous."

Tom Cipullo was involved with the production, from the earliest auditions to the final dress rehearsal. He generously participated in a video series in which he described his creative process on the work. He met with cast members to discuss character intentions and he was at Maestro Aufiero’s right hand during orchestra and dress rehearsals to answer questions about the orchestration.

He was most generous with his comments and candid, all of which contributed to a more visceral performance by each participant. The success of Glory Denied has led to several proposed premieres by three other composers, and one with Mr. Cipullo for 2014-2015. Our most recent production featured two important works by Lee Hoiby, This is the rill speaking and Bermudas.

Bermudas is actually a vocal chamber piece for soprano, mezzo soprano and piano quartet (violin, viola and cello). CO presented it in a 2009 concert; but I wanted to revisit it in a staged version. I envisioned these two women in 1890 wearing heavy clothing, walking along the white, pristine beach as they sang about the discovery of the Bermudas. To make the concept work, they stepped out of a “painting”, coming to life in Andrew Marvell’s most vivid description of these enchanting islands.

This was paired with This is the rill speaking, based on Lanford Wilson’s playof the same name, is about ordinary people doing the most ordinary things in the most ordinary little middle-American town. Lee Hoiby has set the simple text to the most delicious and emotional music, and even though nothing really happens during the opera, it is a very moving experience, culminating in a six-part ensemble where all of the characters revisit their dreams and hopes. Audiences left with the most satisfying smiles on their faces.

Lynne Hayden-Findlay, stage director


The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth

November 10-12, 2011
Directed by Laura Alley
Conducted by Carmine Aufiero


Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini

June 7-9, 2012
Directed by Lynne Hayden-Findlay
Conducted by Carmine Aufiero

Chelsea Opera presents…  

Friday, December 16, 2011 at 8PM

A Child’s Christmas in Wales
by Matthew Harris
based on the text by Dylan Thomas

with the Chelsea Opera Choral Ensemble
and the Chelsea Opera Chamber Orchestra
conducted by Carmine Aufiero


Friday, February 24, 2012 at 8PM

Spunky Old Opera Broads


March 23, 2012 at 8PM

Music of the Flowers – a welcome to Spring


Special Feature - Star of Chelsea Opera

Conversation with a "Star of Chelsea Opera": Justin Ryan  
by Daniel Benevant Williams

Lara Stevens and Justin Ryan

Baritone Justin Ryan recently appeared as Father/Keith/Earl in Lee Hoiby’s This is the rill speaking, his fourth production with Chelsea Opera, where he has also sung the title role in Don Giovanni, Melchoir in Amahl and the Night Visitors and Horace Taber in The Ballad of Baby Doe. The native Texan answers a few questions:

Favorite role and why:
Don Giovanni, a supremely confident archetype who enjoys everything (and everyone) around him.

Some favorites:
Artists, Tita Ruffo and Lawrence Tibbett and Henri Rousseau. Performances, Len Cariou as Sweeney Todd, Giuseppe Giacomini as Canio in Pagliacci in Houston, 1993 and Maria Falconetti as Joan of Arc (1928) she never performed another role on film!

You played three roles in This is the rill speaking. Which
character(s) do you most identify with and why?
Definitely Keith. If you weren't this guy in high school, you wanted to be this guy in high school. Athletic and popular, Keith is small-town teenage royalty: star of the basketball team, he has a killer car and a pretty girlfriend.

And this is different from your life how?
Ha! I probably aspired to be that guy in high school, but my talents certainly weren't of the athletic sort. Anyway, we all know you can be the king of the high school prom and still harbor a ton of insecurity. I liked to play Keith with a little more confidence than I had, or at least with less awareness of his insecurities than I had in high school. And as for my life today, well let's just say I have a very pretty girlfriend and leave it at that.

What did you especially love about This is the rill speaking?
The marriage of Lanford Wilson's poetic dialogue with Lee Hoiby's heartbreakingly beautiful music, particularly in the final minutes, when fragments of the individual dialogue are reprised and woven like thread into a beautiful operatic fabric, and the whole is so much more than the sum of the parts.

What is something about Chelsea Opera that you love?
The venue. Aside from Carnegie Hall, St. Peter's is truly the best acoustic I've heard in the City. From what I understand, it's continually booked for recording, and it's a wonderful place to listen to an opera. If only the seats weren't so hard... Ha! but it's worth it. Truly.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I love a good cheese enchilada. Oh wait, everyone knows that.  

When you are not singing you ______?
I am perfecting my recipe for the perfect cheese enchilada!

Update: Justin refers to having a “pretty girlfriend”. Her name is Lara Stevens, a soprano. Justin and Lara met during CO’s 2009 production of Amahl and the Night Visitors where Lara sang The Mother. And they have just announced their engagement with plans to marry later this fall!



Chelsea Opera is pleased to announce the upcoming world premiere of The Mark of Cain, an opera in progress, music by composer Matthew Harris and libretto by Terry Quinn. The one-act opera, loosely based on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, is for six soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. The premiere will take place in early November, 2012.

This treatment of the Cain legend draws on several sources beyond the familiar Bible verses (Genesis 4, 1-17), including the Koran and the Jewish Midrash tradition. The former posits jealousy as the motive for the world’s first murder and records the burial of the younger brother (al-Ma’idah, 27-31). The latter holds that Cain and Abel both had twin sisters, further noting God’s directive that each brother marry the other’s twin, as well as Cain’s choice to disobey this command and instead take his own twin sister as his wife, owing to her superior beauty.

This is the first of four planned new works that Chelsea Opera will premiere in the coming seasons.


IN MEMORIAM Carmine Aufiero and Lee Hoiby

Composer Lee Hoiby - The Measure of a Man – In Memoriam

As we journey through life, we are often amazed by the beauty that befalls us along the way.  Music is one of those beautiful things and one of life’s greatest joys.  It enriches our lives beyond words and in ways that cannot be measured.  The special people that create such beauty are to be honored and revered for they allow us to travel places without ever leaving our chairs.  They tell us stories and evoke deep emotion all by linking tiny little notes together on a page.

Lee Hoiby was one of those very special people and a truly gifted composer.  He lived life simply but had an overflowing abundance of those tiny magical notes within him.  Throughout his life, he put pen to paper and shared so many wonderfully strung tiny notes with us.  His melodies and creative genius leave us forever changed.

He possessed a passion to compose music.  That passion was not driven by ego or the need for fame and fortune.  Instead, he composed because he was compelled to. All of those tiny notes were Lee’s voice…how he conversed with the world.    And through them he spoke volumes to all of us that have listened and will continue to listen as long as times goes on.

How grateful we are to have shared the journey with him and how lucky we are to know that he will always speak to us each time we listen to one of his compositions. All of those tiny little notes strung together in his special way are truly the measure of this man and we are honored to have called him our friend.  As long as his music exists….Lee Hoiby will live on.

Leonarda Priore – Co-Founder

Leonarda Priore, Lee Hoiby, Lynne Hayden-Findlay & Carmine Aufiero



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A Look Back..............

welcomeand Fundraising Appeal letters

Spring 2011 APPEAL Fundraising letter
Fall 2008 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Spring 2008 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Fall 2007 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Spring 2007 "SPOTLIGHT" Newsletter
Fall 2006 Newsletter
March 2006 Newsletter


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