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The Curtis Opera Theatre Presents Gounod's "Faust" November 17 through 20 at the Prince Music Theater

Fully Staged Production with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Benjamin Shwartz, Stage Directed by John Giampietro

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(November 10, 2011) A classic contest between good and evil lies at the heart of Gounod's Faust, performed by the Curtis Opera Theatre November 17 through 20 at the Prince Music Theater. In this fully staged production, sung in French with English supertitles, Faust sells his soul to the devil to the ruin of those he loves.

Faust is directed by John Giampietro, and Benjamin Shwartz (Flute '01, Conducting '04) leads the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Scenic design is by Tim Baumgartner, costume design is by Sydney Maresca, and lighting design is by Marie Yokoyama.

Performances take place on Thursday, November 17 through Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m., and on Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m. The Prince Music Theater is located at1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

Tickets are $35 and are available from the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Two-opera subscriptions, which include Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, are available for $50. Single tickets are $35. To purchase tickets or for more information, contact the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

The Curtis Opera Theatre production of Faust is part of Curtis's 2011-12Appassionato season, which features bold programming, enriched curriculum offerings, and exceptional special events that herald Curtis's enduring influence on music in Philadelphia and the world.

Conductor 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. Mr. Shwartz  has received numerous awards for his work including the Presser Music Award and was a prize-winner in the 2007 Bamberg Symphony Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition.

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 BBC Scottish, Iceland, New World, Oregon, and Trondheim symphony orchestras, among others. Other recent and upcoming engagements include the BBC  Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Previously for the Curtis Opera Theatre he has led productions of Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims and Bellini's La sonnambula.

Mr. Shwartz 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.

Raised in Los Angeles and Israel, Mr. Shwartz attended the Curtis Institute of Music, where he received the Shanis Fellowship to study conducting and worked closely with Christoph Eschenbach in preparing the Curtis Symphony Orchestra for concerts. He also studied composition with James Primosch at the University of Pennsylvania, with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Germany, and at IRCAM in Paris.

Stage director John Giampietro, a Philadelphia native, studied acting and directing at Hofstra University. He is the former artistic director of the Accidental Theatre Company in New York, where he directed Love's Labors Lost, Miss Julie, Joan of Lorraine, Feeding the Dead, and Wagner's in the Tub. He directed the national tour and New York run of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the National Shakespeare Company. He has led theater and opera productions for Vermont Shakespeare Company, Phoenix Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Chautauqua Institution Music School, Opera Manhattan, and Trill Vocal Projects.

Mr. Giampietro is a frequent director for Ensemble Studio Theatre's Youngblood, a program for emerging playwrights under thirty. He has assisted and studied under directors such as Marion McClinton, Doug Hughes, Garland Wright, and Franco Zeffirelli.

Mr. Giampietro's acting roles include Hamlet (title role), Romeo and Juliet (title role), Medea Unharnessed(Jason), Measure for Measure (Duke), and Hecabe (Odysseus). He is the author of three plays: Strength of God and other grotesques, Wagner's in the Tub, and The Immolation of Kathy Chang(e).

Mr. Giampietro is an acting faculty member of the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at the Juilliard School. He is an acting instructor and stage director at the Chautauqua Institution Music School and is a lifetime member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City.

The Curtis Opera Theatre works with established professional directors and designers to create fresh interpretations of standard repertoire and contemporary works. All of Curtis's 25 voice and opera students are cast repeatedly each season in fully staged productions, receiving a rare level of performance experience. As a result Curtis graduates have sung with opera companies all over the world, including La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, Houston Grand Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and 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 165 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. This philosophy has produced an impressive number of notable artists since the school's founding in 1924, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to current stars Jonathan Biss, Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, and Lang Lang.

Curtis Opera Theatre: Faust by Charles Gounod
Thursday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m.
Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Benjamin Shwartz, conductor (Flute '01, Conducting '04)
John Giampietro, stage director
Tim Baumgartner, scenic designer
Sydney Maresca, costume designer
Marie Yokoyama, lighting designer

Two-opera subscription: $50 (Faust, I Capuleti e i Montecchi); available from the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Single tickets: $35; available from the Curtis Ticket Office at (215) 893-7902 or

Cast (in singing order)

November 17 and 19
Doctor Faust: Adam Frandsen (Nov. 17), Diego Silva (Nov. 19)
Méphistophélès: Brandon Cedel
Wagner: Sean Michael Plumb
Siébel: Jazimina MacNeil
Valentin: Julian Arsenault
Marguerite: Elizabeth Zharoff
Marthe: Shir Rozzen

November 18 and 20
Doctor Faust: Christopher Tiesi
Méphistophélès: Andrew Bogard
Wagner: Johnathan McCullough
Siébel: Nian Wang
Valentin: Jarrett Ott
Marguerite: Allison Sanders
Marthe: Shir Rozzen

Chorus (all performances): Joseph Barron, J'nai Bridges, Anna Davidson, Lauren Eberwein, Terrance Hart*, Miyuki Hashimoto*, Meredith LaBouff, Aedín Larkin*, Jonathan McCullough (November 17 and 19), Sean Michael Plumb (November 18 and 20), Kevin Ray, Alize Rozsnyai, Thomas Shivone, Joshua Stewart

* Guest artists

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