Opera lovers rejoice: Vashon’s own opera company will finally present Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana”, having postponed the event more than once in the past 18 months.
Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 5 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 7 at the Vashon Center for the Arts.
Known for his exquisitely beautiful orchestral intermezzo, Mascagni’s symphonic mastery will be performed by the famous Vashon Opera Orchestra, led by conductor James Brown, performing at stage level amidst the characters and chorus of the story.
According to the opera’s program notes, written by Eugene Carlson, “Cavalleria Rusticana” marked the beginning of a new genre of opera, with a down-to-earth and down-to-earth musical narration that was called verism, from Italian vero, “truth.”
The plot of the opera involves a small 19th-century village gone bad – with what Eugene Carlson described as “rude and lascivious behavior leading to a violent death on Christianity’s holiest day, to the shadow of the village church in Sicily. “
As a prelude to “Cavalleria Rusticana”, Vashon Opera will offer audiences a presentation of famous operatic selections encompassing the best of hundreds of years of opera.
The production will mark the return of tenor Limmie Pulliam, last seen on Vashon in “I Pagliacci”.
Pullman – a burgeoning dramatic tenor in the opera world – has just successfully completed the role of Manrico in “Il Trovatore” at LA Opera, and will perform the aria of that role for audiences on Vashon, before performing. playing the main role of Turiddu in “Cavalleria Rusticana”.
Other local, regional and national luminaries performing both as soloists in the first half of the presentation and in lead roles in “Cavalleria Rusticana” include Marie Master Webb, seen in “Albert Herring; Soon Cho, seen in “La Traviata”; Melissa Plagemann, seen in “Madame Butterfly”; and Andrew Krikawa, seen in “The Magic Flute”. Guest artist Clayton Brainerd, who is new to the main stage of the Vashon opera, will perform an excerpt from “Das Rheingold”. Hugh Davis, a dedicated young baritone who grew up on Vashon and sang several times with his hometown opera company, is also on the program as a soloist.
Also taking the stage as a soloist, someone is sure to be greeted by the audience with one of the evening’s warmest standing ovations: Jennifer Krikawa, the determined co-founder of Vashon Opera.
Jennifer, a slender and throaty soprano, moved to Vashon in 2004 with her husband Andrew, an accomplished baritone. At the time, the couple intended to leave behind their opera career, which required constant travel. Andrew, they had decided, would work a regular job, and Jennifer would become a full-time mother to the couple’s two young children.
But the two Krikawas had performed in many prestigious venues, including the New York City Opera, and it didn’t take long for Vashon to talk about their vocal prowess.
In 2008, the Krikawas launched Vashon Opera with the help of about two dozen founding supporters – an influential group that included Jo Ann and Tom Bardeen, Rick and Molly Reed, Beth and John de Groen, Conni and Doug Clarke, Ray and Edith Aspiri, Karen Baer and Rick Wallace.
The company has now played 11 memorable seasons on Vashon, using their mix of professional stars in lead roles joined on stage by local singers in the choir. Vashon Opera’s last production on Vashon, “La Traviata,” took place in September 2019, months before the start of the long pandemic hiatus for the performing arts.
In May 2022, the Vashon opera season will continue with Franz Lehár’s effervescent and comedic operetta, “The Merry Widow”.
For more information and tickets, visit vashonopera.org.