VSMF PERFORMANCE 06/27/2021
06/27/2021 | 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Carnival of the Animals & The Loathly Lady (3:00pm)
Written by local composer Paul Richards, The Loathly Lady is a three-part comedy based on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale. The Loathly Lady is the first production in a twin-bill, followed by Improv Opera, which the festival describes as an immersive experience that “utilizes music from Carnival of The Animals by Camille Saint-Saens and allows VSMF singers to create characters, action and plot on the spot.” Show dates for the double bill are Thursday, June 24 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 27, at 3:00 p.m.
Hansel und Gretel (7:30pm)
Hansel und Gretel is the Humperdinck classic, “a deliciously riotous, magical story [that] follows two children and their journey through an enchanted forest full of faeries, candy and an abominable witch,” according to VSMF. Showtimes are Saturday, June 26 at 7:30pm and Sunday, June 27 at 7:30pm in Preis Hall, St. Pete Opera Central.
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Artistic Director: Vince Connor
Executive Director: Michael Polo
Director of Development: John Kaneklides
A native of Winter Park, Florida,Vincent Connor has established himself as prominent and versatile stage director. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree and performance certificate from The College of Music at Florida State University as well as a Master’s Degree in voice with emphasis in stage direction from The University of Arizona, he began his performance career as a bass-baritone, performing such roles as Pooh-bah in The Mikado, Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors, Thomas Putnam in The Crucible, Geronimo in Il Matrimonio Segreto, Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Now moving his focus to stage direction, he has already made his directing television debut with WGN’s hit series Manhattan, and recently brought Puccini’s Suor Angelica to the University of Arizona Opera Theatre, which the opera appreciation organization “Living at the Opera” praised for its “… remarkable directorial touches.” In 2015 alone he directed five different productions ranging from the classics of Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and Puccini’s La Boheme, to Sister Carrie with Janiec Opera Company, and The Tenderland at Opera North.
Mr. Connor is a passionate believer in opera outreach and education, and is continually working with various universities and companies such as The University of Arizona, UMKC Conservatory, Opera in the Ozarks, Marble City Opera, Brevard Music Festival, Janiec Opera, Arizona Onstage productions, Northern Lights Music Festival, and Opera North.
Gregory Buchalter holds the titles of Music Director of Opera Fairbanks and Opera Camerata of Washington and principal conductor of Varna International. Internationally, he has conducted Salome at the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Die Fledermaus at the Vienna Volksoper, Mozart’s Entführung aus dem Serail at the Spoleto Festival, Cosi fan Tutte with the Mediterranean Opera Festival in Italy and Eugene Onegin with the New Opera World Festival in Moscow and many operas at Varna International including the Bulgarian premieres of Candide and Kurt Weil's Street Scene. He was Music Director of Opera Las Vegas for 5 years and conducted the American Premieres of Mercadante’s I due Figaro, Von Winter’s Das Labyrinth and Donizetti’s Olivo e Pasquale in New York.
He was the first American to conduct with the Kazakhstan State Opera including a televised Gala concert for the President of Kazakhstan. Mr. Buchalter was Chorus Master of Santa Fe Opera, Bregenz Festival in Austria, Theater des Westens in Berlin, and for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra.
He's been a cover conductor at the Metropolitan Opera (where the position of “Maestro di Banda” was created for him)and has worked extensively with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus. At the Met he prepared several world premieres including John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, Philip Glass’ The Voyage and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby.
Maestro Buchalter conducted Idomeneo with New England Conservatory right before the pandemic and recently made his debuts with Florida Grand Opera conducting Jake Heggie's Three Decembers, La Boheme with Teatro Lirica D'europe and Hänsel und Gretel with the Vienna Summer Music Festival. Upcoming will be a return to Florida Grand Opera, Rigoletto with Orlando Opera and Idomeneo with the Cyprus Symphony and Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Teatro Lirica D'europe.
Keith Chambers has conducted over 150 performances of over 50 operas for The Dallas Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Amarillo Opera, Shreveport Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera, First Coast Opera, Florida State University, Queens College, among others. As Founder & Artistic Director of New Amsterdam Opera, his performance of La favorita was named 2018 Best Opera in Concert in the United States by noted WQXR opera blogger Fred Plotkin. A former assistant to noted conductors Patrick Summers and Emmanuel Villaume, Mr. Chambers was Assistant Conductor of New York City Opera and The Dallas Opera. He has been Director of the Young Artist Program for Opera New Jersey and Guest Coach for Seattle Opera and Florida Grand Opera. A protégé of pianist Ivan Davis, Mr. Chambers has appeared as concerto soloist with the Naples Philharmonic and Delaware Symphony. Upcoming conducting engagements include La bohème for Vienna Summer Music Festival, Don Giovanni for Indianapolis Opera, and I Vespri Siciliani for New Amsterdam Opera.
Faith Ann Santucci
Carnival of the Animals
The Loathly Lady
Brooke Iva Lohman
Hansel und Gretel
Natasha McFarland Rhoads
Second Lady in Waiting
First Lady in Waiting
Susan Stone Li is a stage director with a specialty in producing operas within non-traditional venues. In February of 2020 she directed Mother of Us All for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In February of 2019, Ms. Stone Li directed Rossini’s, La cambiale di matrinonio, for Opera Southwest, housed in a local tango club. Through her ability to transition classical production aesthetics into non-traditional spaces, Ms. Stone Li worked with Wolf Trap Opera to further their commitment to being on the forefront of innovative performances. Most recently assisting Hong Kong Ballet’s Artistic Director, Septime Webre as he choreographed members of Hong Kong Ballet and Wolf Trap Opera in, The Seven Deadly Sins. In 2016 she created a social media initiative for Wolf Trap Opera’s social engagement program called “The Lucretia Project.” Ms. Stone Li’s initiative was noted by Anne Midget in the Washington Post’s review of WTO’s production of, The Rape of Lucretia. Ms. Stone Li has directed and assistant directed mainstage and outreach performances for Houston Grand Opera, as well as their community engagement division, HGOco. When not in rehearsal Ms. Stone Li can be found gardening with her golden retriever, Waffles, on a homestead in rural Texas.