Opera at Florham Presents “Holiday Special – La Cenerentola (Cinderella)”


MADISON, NJ (December 3, 2014)— Opera at Florham presents its Holiday concert on Sunday, December 14 at 3 p.m. in Lenfell Hall, the Mansion, featuring a studio adaptation of Rossini’s La Cenerentola. The Opera will be presented in concert form, abridged to approximately 1 hour, and sung in English with artists in costumes. The dynamic cast of professional artists will bring to life the familiar tale of Cinderella, as depicted by the great Opera composer Gioacchino Rossini. This exciting performance will take place at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham, Madison, NJ.

The venue, Lenfell Hall located in Hennessy Hall, was the drawing room of the Twombly family when they lived in the 100-room mansion.

The Opera in concert will feature several distinguished performers. Portraying the lead role of Cenerentola is Sarah Nelson Craft, a mezzo-soprano who’s commanding, versatile voice has most recently brought her to Paris where she participated in “The Song Continues: Paris Residency,” a series of recitals and master classes with Marilyn Horne presented by Carnegie Hall. Last season she made her main stage debut with the Caramoor Festival as Ninetta in Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes and her recent performance of Giunone in Handel’s Agrippina with Operamission in New York drew critical acclaim for her powerful performance.

Taking on the role of the prince Don Ramiro is Kyle Knapp, an exciting and versatile young tenor acclaimed by Opera News for his “shiny, sizable tenor” and remarkable acting ability. With over 25 major roles to his credit in his young career, Mr. Knapp has performed with Crested Butte Music Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Palm Beach Opera, and three seasons with Ohio Light Opera, which included three recordings for Albany Records. Mr. Knapp is a three-time prize winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the recipient of the Elihu Hyndman Award from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Baritone Timothy Lafontaine will recreate Cenerentola’s evil stepfather, Don Magnifico. Mr. Lafontaine’s recent performances include Dr. Bartolo in Syracuse Opera’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia for the Festival Opera de Saint Eustache in Quebec and Naples Opera, the title role in Don Pasquale for Mobile Opera, and Tony in Di Capo Opera Theater’s The Most Happy Fella.

Lawrence Craig Jr. will bring his virtuosic baritone to the role of Dandini, friend and valet of Prince Ramiro. As winner of the Monastero Bel Canto International Opera Competition, he studied and performed with artistic staff of Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Mr. Craig has appeared most notably as Escamillo in Carmen, Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, Ford in Falstaff and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte.

Taking on the roles of Clorinda and Tisbe, Cenerentola’s nasty stepsisters, are Michelle Jennings and Maria Todaro of the operatic comedy duo, Diva’s Unleashed. Ms. Todaro (Paris, San Antonio Opera, San Paulo Opera House) and Ms. Jennings (Hawaii Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Virginia Opera) have recently combined their talents in producing The Benefit, their own one-act operatic play about two divas who are mistakenly double-booked for the same benefit recital. Diva’s Unleashed have been invited to perform The Benefit across the United States in Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, and New Jersey.

Directing is Mike Philips, a veteran director, producer, and choreographer who’s productions have been performed across the globe on every nearly continent. Providing piano accompaniment is concert pianist and conductor, Shuang Guo. As a concert pianist, Dr. Guo has performed concertos with Berlin Symphony Orchestra in Germany, Rannana Symphony Orchestra in Tel Aviv, Chinese Woman’s Philharmonic in Beijing, Kansas City Camerata and Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra. For the past 10 years, Dr. Guo serves as the Music Director of 2 choruses in NJ, Chinese American Music Ensemble and Knowledge of Sound (Zhiyin) Chorus.

David Wroe, Opera at Florham’s Artistic Director, will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the concert. He is also Conductor and Artistic Director for the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, Westfield, NJ.

Holiday refreshments will be served following the performance, along with a Seasonal Sing-a-long around the piano.

Everyone is encouraged to bring children and grandchildren to Opera at Florham’s events as this is a wonderful way to introduce them to the beautiful and varied world of opera! There is no charge for children under 12 years old when accompanied by an adult.

This production will be repeated three times to students on Monday, December 15th, 2014, as part of Opera at Florham’s and New Jersey Festival Orchestra’s Student Outreach Program, a program designed to bring this inspiring art form to students from undeserved neighborhoods. These performances will take place at Newark Arts High School and John F Kennedy High School in Newark and Marie V. Duffy School in Wharton are made possible in part by the generosity of a member of the Opera at Florham Board of Trustees.

Funding has been made possible in part by funds from the Morris Arts Council through the New Jersey State Council of the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are $35 for regular admission, $30 for seniors, $20 for Opera at Florham members, $10 for students, and free for children. Special rates are available for Groups of 10 or more at $25 per ticket. Tickets can be ordered by calling Opera at Florham, 973-443-8620 or on the website http://www.operaatflorham.org. Checks can be mailed to Opera at Florham, P. O. Box 343, Convent Station, NJ 07961.

The College at Florham of Fairleigh Dickinson University is located at 285 Madison Ave., Madison, NJ. For more information, visit www.operaatflorham.org

FDU Office of Public Relations

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