Arts and Entertainment

Preview of ‘The Consul’ at the Bainbridge Public Library

The Arizona Opera production of
The Arizona Opera production of 'The Consul.'
— image credit: Tim Fuller photo | Image courtesy of the Seattle Opera

Get a free preview of the Seattle Opera’s premiere of “The Consul” at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Bainbridge Public Library.

The preview will be presented by opera aficionado Norm Hollingshead and is funded by the Bainbridge Island Friends of the Library.

"The Consul" continues Seattle Opera’s 50th anniversary season, and the riveting Cold War thriller is coming to McCaw Hall for the first time. In this tale, an inhuman bureaucracy poses a formidable obstacle for a woman desperate to flee a totalitarian state with her family. Menotti’s intensely human score won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1950, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical Play and played for more than 100 performances on Broadway.

Seattle Opera’s production, which features several leading alumni of the Seattle Opera Young Artists Program, opens on Saturday, Feb. 22, and runs for seven performances through Friday, March 7.

“'The Consul' was timely when it was composed, and it still is even today,” said Speight Jenkins, Seattle Opera’s general director. “Its success on Broadway and all over the world has made it one of the most important 20th-century operas. In my opinion, it not only is a great work, but it is also clearly Menotti’s masterpiece.”

Marcy Stonikas (Young Artist 2010, ’11) returns to McCaw Hall as the central character, Magda Sorel, a devoted wife and mother desperately trying to save her family. The soprano sang the leading roles in Seattle Opera’s productions of "Turandot" and "Fidelio" last season. For her portrayal of Ariadne in "Ariadne Auf Naxos," the Seattle Times wrote: “The warmth, flexibility, and apparently inexhaustible power of her voice easily rode even the larger orchestral climaxes, and enveloped us all with its loveliness — most definitely, this is a singer with a big future.”

When mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen (Young Artist 1012, ’13) sang in "Rigoletto" this January, the Seattle Times wrote that she was “a terrific Maddalena,” whose singing was “rich-voiced and opulently sultry.”

Seattle audiences last heard baritone Michael Todd Simpson (Young Artist 2004, ’05) as Marcello in the 2013 "La bohème," when The SunBreak wrote, “I could have listened to him sing Marcello all night.”

Now, he returns to play Magda’s husband, freedom-fighter John Sorel.

Fresh from her Seattle Opera debut as Erda in this summer’s "Ring," mezzo-soprano Lucille Beer joins the cast in the role of John’s mother.

Soprano Vira Slywotzky (Young Artist 2009, ’10), described by the New York Times as a singer “with a naturally large sound with cutting power” will play Magda in the alternate cast.

Tenor Alex Mansoori (Young Artist 2009, ’10) returns to his native Seattle to sing the role of vaudeville magician Nika Magadoff.

Other former Young Artists featured in the performance are Joseph Lattanzi (2012) as Assan; Dana Pundt (2013) as Anna Gomez; and Deborah Nansteel (2013) as the Foreign Woman.

Making their Seattle Opera debuts are baritone Steven LaBrie in the role of the Secret Police Agent, bass Colin Ramsey as Mr. Kofner and mezzo-soprano Margaret Gawrysiak (Young Artist 2008, ’09) as Vera Boronel.

Italian conductor Carlo Montanaro is at the podium.

Montanaro made his Seattle Opera debut conducting "Don Quichotte" in 2011, and returned for "Attila" in 2012 and "La bohème" in 2013. Peter Kazaras, whose Seattle Opera directing credits include "The Marriage of Figaro," "Tristan und Isolde," "The Barber of Seville" and "Madama Butterfly," returns to direct this suspenseful thriller.

Costumes are designed by Melanie Taylor Burgess, with sets by David P. Gordon.

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