"Carmen," to be performed Sept. 28 through Oct. 6, will be directed by Eugene Brancoveanu, who will also play the role of Escamillo. The opera is set in Spain and tells the story of the famous seductive gypsy; it features the Toreador song as well as "Habanera."
"Cinderella," to be performed March 15-23, will be directed by Bruce Donnell. The opera follows the classic fairytale, and it is considered perfect viewing for families.
"With opulent sets, elaborate costumes and outstanding talent, LVO's productions are no longer a hidden treasure, but recognized as quality, professional experiences," Katsman said.
As Livermore Valley Opera moves forward, it hopes to make opera more accessible to the average person, said spokeswoman Heidi Massie. This means choosing operas that will please both aficionados and newcomers, like "Carmen," with its recognizable arias, and "Cinderella," which is a classic story known to audiences.
"Today's opera is not your grandma's opera," Massie said. "The productions that are done are not traditional operas, but many times there are some that are done with a contemporary presentation. The purpose of that is to reach newer audiences, younger audiences sometimes."
Apart from the two main shows, LVO will host several other events, including Opening Night galas at Uncle Yu's at the Vineyard across the street from the Bankhead. Beginning at 4:30 p.m., the galas offer dinner followed by a dessert reception at the theater. Attendees will meet the stage director and Katsman. Tickets are $85.
LVO will also hold pre-opera talks one hour before curtain time; a Neiman Marcus Fashion Show at the store in Walnut Creek; a 22nd anniversary black-tie celebration at Ruby Hill Golf Club in January; its Soiree Series, evenings in private homes that combine opera, wine and food; aria performances at the Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton; Opera in the Vineyard for folks to bring picnic dinners and enjoy the setting, serenaded by LVO singers; and OperaLIVE!, which features the stars of each opera at local libraries. For information, visit www.livermorevalleyopera.com.
These programs help introduce newcomers to opera, plus LVO often visits high school and community college choruses and drama classes to recruit members. It also allows students to attend opera dress rehearsals for reduced rates.
Tickets to the operas are $39 to $74 for adults. Student tickets are $10 off. To learn more, call the ticket office of Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., at 373-6800 or visit the www.livermoreperformingarts.org.
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