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Curtis Opera Theatre Presents Bellini's "La sonnambula"

Concert Production Conducted by Benjamin Shwartz ('04)

Sweet dreams? Not for Amina, whose innocent sleepwalking threatens her impending marriage when the Curtis Opera Theatre presents La sonnambula. Benjamin Shwartz conducts a concert production with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra on February 18 through 21 at the Prince Music Theater.

Sung in the original Italian with English supertitles, Bellini's La sonnambula tells the story of a young woman who is spurned by her fiancé when she is found asleep in another man's room. But no one believes her explanation--she was only sleepwalking. Is the wedding doomed?

Performances take place Thursday, February 18 through Saturday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m. The Prince Music Theater is located at 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $33 and are available from the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Benjamin Shwartz recently completed a three-season tenure as the resident conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, where he assisted Michael Tilson Thomas, led numerous concerts, and was the Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. A youth orchestra highlight was leading a European tour during summer 2008.

Mr. Shwartz has also held appointments as assistant conductor of the San Francisco Symphony, Delaware Symphony Orchestra, and the Reading Symphony. He has conducted the New World Symphony and the BBC Scottish, Iceland, Trondheim, and Orgeon symphony orchestras, among others. Next season he will make debuts with the BBC Symphony London, Tokyo Symphony, Duisburg Philharmonic, and Korea's KBS Symphony Orchestra. Last season he made his opera debut with the Curtis Opera Theatre's production of Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims.

Committed to new music, Mr. Shwartz has led numerous world premieres of works by composers of his generation. He is the conductor of Mercury Soul, a new-music project that he curates with composer Mason Bates and designer Anne Patterson. The ensemble presents new music for acoustic and electronic instruments in clubs and other unusual locations blurring the lines between classical, experimental, and electronic music.

Musical preparation for La sonnambula was provided by Danielle Orlando, principal opera coach at Curtis. Ms. Orlando has collaborated with Luciano Pavarotti as accompanist, judge, and artistic coordinator for all of the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competitions. She spent nine seasons working with Gian Carlo Menotti for the Festival dei due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy, as the artistic coordinator and coach for the operas, in addition to editing several of his compositions and performing with the festival.

Ms. Orlando has served on the music staffs of many opera companies, festivals, and young-artist programs, including the Metropolitan Opera; Washington National Opera (where she collaborated with Plácido Domingo); Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires; Michigan Opera Theatre; Opera Company of Philadelphia (artistic administrator); Pittsburgh Opera; Wolf Trap Opera Company; Festival dei Due Mondi in Charleston, S.C.; American Institute of Music Studies in Graz, Austria; European Center for Opera and Vocal Arts in Belgium; Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera; Portland Opera Performing Institute; New Jersey Opera Theater; and Arizona Opera. She is also a guest judge for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

She recently added Oberlin in Italy and the Florence Voice Seminar to her summer engagements and this season will perform in the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland. Ms. Orlando, who is a master vocal coach at the Academy of Vocal Arts, joined the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music in 1986.

The Curtis Opera Theatre, under the artistic direction of Mikael Eliasen, is the performing entity of the Curtis Vocal Studies Department. Each season the Curtis Opera Theatre presents at least four performances and concert productions in venues such as the Prince Music Theater, Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, and the Curtis Opera Studio with established professional directors and designers who create fresh interpretations of standard repertoire and contemporary works. All of the department's twenty-five voice and opera students are cast repeatedly each season, providing students a rare level of performance experience. As a result Curtis graduates can be found on the rosters of opera companies worldwide, and more than sixty alumni have sung with the Metropolitan Opera.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis is highly selective and provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its 160 students. In this intimate environment, students receive personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. A busy schedule of performances is at the heart of Curtis's distinctive "learn by doing" approach.


Curtis Opera Theatre: Bellini's La sonnambula
Thursday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, February 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 21 at 2:30 p.m.

Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Benjamin Shwartz, conductor ('04)
Danielle Orlando, musical preparation

Concert production with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, sung in the original Italian with English supertitles.

Tickets: $33; available from the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Cast February 18 / 20 February 19 & 21
Amina Elizabeth Zharoff / Charlotte Dobbs Elizabeth Reiter
Lisa Lisa Kirsten MacKinnon / Anna Davidson Alize Rozsnyai
Teresa J'nai Bridges Jazimina MacNeil
Rodolfo Joseph Barron / Thomas Shivone Evan Boyer
Elvino Diego Silva Christopher Tiesi
Alessio Jaguar Sasmito Jaguar Sasmito

Chorus (all performances) Meredith LaBouff, Shir Rozzen, Allison Sanders, Sarah Shafer, Ashley Thouret, Allen Boxer, Brandon Cedel, Evan Hughes, Elliot Madore, Kevin Ray, Joshua Stewart

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Jennifer Kallend
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(215) 717-3190

Diana Wensley
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(215) 717-3129

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