Topeka Festival Singers to take audience ‘To the Opera!’ through great choruses

Bill Blankenship/
Kevin Kellim directs a rehearsal of the Topeka Festival Singers for “To the Opera!” concert which will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 6, in White Concert Hall on the Washburn University campus..

By Bill Blankenship

Not every great moment in an opera is commended by a diva and her arias. A good number of tracks on collections of classical music are filled by opera choruses.

For the third of its fourth 2016-17 season concerts, the Topeka Festival Singers will take its audience “To the Opera!” with a program that includes the by-audition, mixed chorus singing some of opera’s great choruses.

And the 7:30 p.m. Monday, March 6, program in White Concert Hall on the campus of Washburn University will include some diva moments with soloists drawn from the Singers’ ranks, as well as four guest vocalists: soprano Andrea Garritano, mezzo-soprano Ann Marie Snook, baritone Lee Snook and tenor Scott Wichael.

The concert will open with the Singers performing “Chorus of Enchanted Islanders,” the welcoming song to the magical isle ruled by the title character of George Frideric Handel’s “Alcina.”

Alto Bri Stewart will solo on “Dido’s Lament” and the final chorus of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas, while soprano Clare Bryan will be featured on “Clair’s Aria” from “Clair de Lune” by Libby Larsen.

The Singers’ next number will have the audience looking for a nervous groom and a white-clad bride as the “Bridal Chorus” of Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin” has come to be known as the “Here Comes the Bride” wedding march.

Tenor Zachary Cope will solo on “Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?” from Handel’s “”Semele,” followed by soprano Jessica Crowder taking the lead on “Mi chiamano Mimi” from “La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini.

“Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Nabucco” will close the first act of the concert.

Wichael will join the Singers as the soloist for the Act II openener, “Chorus of Wedding Guests” from Gaetano Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermor,” which will be followed by Ann Marie Snook singing “Habarnera,” the entrance aria of the title character of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen.”

Lee Snook will solo on “Blow Ye, the TRumpet Dan-u-el,” an aria of the Kansas-based opera “John Brown” by Kansas-born composer Kirke Mechem.

“Sous le dome epais,” also known as the “Flower Duet,” from Leo Delibes’ “Lakme” will feature Garritano and Ann Marie Snook, and Wichael will return to sing “Bon Voyage” from Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide.”

The concert will close with Garritano singing the lead of Pietro Mascagni’s “Easter Hymn” from “Cavalleria rusticana.”

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