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Opera company readies for 10th season

MIDDLEBURY — The Opera Company of Middlebury celebrates its 10th season with five performances of “Eugene Onegin” by Peter Tchaikovsky, May 31-June 8 at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater.
Tenth anniversaries call for something special and the melodic masterpiece of Tchaikovsky, sung in Russian with orchestra and chorus, will be a spectacular culmination of OCM’s increasingly sophisticated music making.  Believed to be the Vermont premier of this internationally renowned work, “Eugene Onegin” tells the story of Tatiana, a girl from a provincial Russian estate who falls in love with the title character. He treats her poorly, and Tatiana’s journey from bitter disappointment to a new life is the stuff of great opera.
The cast of professional singers from all over the country is headed by Vermont’s own Suzanne Kantorski-Merrill in the role of Tatiana. Darik Knutsen plays Onegin, Bray Wilkins appears as Lenski, and Olga will be sung by Dawn Pierce, all making their debuts with OCM. Vermonter Erik Kroncke returns to the company to sing Count Gremin. A special June 7 performance will feature professional guest artists Barbara Paterson, Paul Scholten, Michael Boley and Olga Perez.
Artistic Director Douglas Anderson directs, and in the pit will be internationally renowned conductor Emmanuel Plasson, returning to OCM for his third season.
The community has a chance to meet this remarkable cast at the annual “Meet the Singers” reception and recital, this year at a new location, the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, on Sunday, May 19, at 5 p.m. Each of the principal cast members of “Eugene Onegin” will sing a favorite song or aria. The CVUUS is located at 2 Duane Court just off Water Street, south of Cross Street. Tickets are $25.
A free reception will follow the opening night performance May 31. Complimentary champagne will be served and the audience will have an opportunity to meet the cast. “Eugene Onegin” will continue in performance Sunday, June 2 (matinee), and June 6, 7, and 8 at 8 p.m. in the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. Tickets are $50 and $55 for balcony seats.
An informative talk on the opera will be presented an hour before each performance at Memorial Baptist Church, across from Town Hall Theater on South Pleasant Street.
The season culminates on Saturday, Aug. 17, with a benefit recital featuring past OCM singers. Yonghoon Lee, who sang in “Carmen” and “Tosca” in OCM’s first two seasons, now sings these roles in the major opera houses of the world. This season he debuted at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, in “Tosca” and returned to the Vienna State Opera in the title role of Don Carlo, a role he has also sung at the Metropolitan Opera and on tour with the Met in Japan.
Joining Lee will be Stephanie Weiss, who also performed in OCM’s first season and has gone on to a major career in Europe, mostly with the Deutsch Oper in Berlin. Joining these singers will be Bevin Hill and Branch Fields, two outstanding singers from recent seasons. Ted Taylor will accompany on piano.  Tickets for the benefit are $75. Tickets may also be reserved for dinner with the singers at Swift House Inn following the recital.
Tickets for “Meet the Singers,” “Eugene Onegin,” and the 10th anniversary benefit recital are now on sale at the Town Hall Theater box office at 802-382-9222, www.ocmvermont.org, in person, or at the door on the night of the event, if available. OCM performances routinely sell out, so advanced tickets are recommended. 
For information about becoming an OCM member, see OCM’s website or email membership chair Joann Langrock at jplangrock@gmail.com.

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