Meet opera singers, hear them warm up

The Opera Company of Middlebury opens its 15th Season with “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which will run from June 1 to 9 at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater.
Come to the Unitarian Universalist Society at 2 Duane Court in Middlebury for the annual “Meet the Singers” reception on Sunday, May 20 at 5 p.m. Settle back and enjoy the singers as they perform their favorite arias, then get to know them over drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Space is limited, so purchase your tickets now to be the first to hear these magnificent singers. There will be appetizers and a cash bar as well as the performances.
Tickets are $35 general admission, and may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, 802-382-9222, at the THT box office (Monday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.) or at the door if available.
Composer André Previn once said that Tennessee Williams’ play was already an opera — just without the singing. With its sweeping passions, exotic location (a sweltering New Orleans in the 1940s) and a central character who rivals all of the great operatic heroines, it was only a matter of time before someone set it to music.
Previn’s operatic take on this American classic is extremely faithful to the original play. “In fact, he had no choice,” says Opera Company of Middlebury’s artistic director Douglas Anderson. “The Williams estate wouldn’t let him change a single word. The result is an opera that has all of the hallmarks of a great play: amazing language, high drama, and a great story.”
The role of Blanche Dubois will be played by soprano Meredith Lustig. “She a terrific soprano,” says Anderson, “but she also has a lot of musical theater experience, and that’s key. For this opera you need exceptional singers who are also exceptional actors.” Baritone Gregory Gerbrandt plays the hulking Stanley Kowalski, having played the role at Opera Santa Barbara and Opera Idaho. Soprano Cree Carrico debuts with the company as Stella, and OCM alum Jamie Flora will sing the role of Mitch. Rounding out the company are Olga Perez Flora, Joshua Collier, Sara Petrocelli and Cameron Steinmetz.
Guest Conductor Michael Sakir will conduct the 29-piece OCM orchestra. “A Streetcar Named Desire” marks the 20th OCM production directed by Douglas Anderson and stage-managed by Mary Longey.
Previn’s score is something of a miracle, drawing on jazz and blues but maintaining its own distinctive voice. “Previn could have easily written imitations of what we think of as New Orleans music, but here the jazz is more of an undercurrent, a suggestion of New Orleans without falling into simply copying the style. The result is a contemporary opera that is inviting and accessible, but still a gripping operatic experience.”
“A Streetcar Named Desire” will be performed on June 1, at 3 (matinee), 7 and 9 p.m., at Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater. Tickets may be purchased at townhalltheater.org, 802-382-9222, or at the THT Box Office (Monday-Friday, Noon-5 p.m.). More information about the production may be found at ocmvermont.org.

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