From the Wild West and Bohemian Paris, Manitoba Opera unwraps more audience favourites for 2013-14

Former Winnipegger Nikki Einfeld returns in Don Pasquale lead role; American singers Danielle Pastin, as the sweet seamstress Mimi, and tenor Eric Fennell, as boyfriend Rodolfo, take centre stage in La Bohème.

Don Pasquale with the San Diego Opera. Photo by Ken Howard, San Diego Opera.
Don Pasquale with the San Diego Opera. Photo by Ken Howard, San Diego Opera.

By Darlene Ronald

A hilarious Wild West, courtesy of Donizetti, and love and loss in Puccini’s Paris headline Manitoba Opera’s offerings for 2013-14.

Saddle up for Manitoba Opera’s 41st season, which opens at the Centennial Concert Hall with a Hollywood-style Wild West version of Gaetano Donizetti’s Don Pasquale Nov. 23, 26 and 29. In April, the setting is Paris, the City of Love, for Giacomo Puccini’s greatest opera, La Bohème, April 5, 8 and 11.

Don Pasquale is a cowboy-sized helping of rib-tickling laughter and fun complete with a hero who enjoys a bubble bath surrounded by bar girls, a Mariachi band and, of course, the well-aged, well-heeled Don Pasquale. The Don is looking for a quiet, obedient little housewife; but instead lassoes himself a highfalutin fireball of a gal who is ready to empty his pockets quicker than you can say “Giddyup”.

The cast for this hilarious, but endearing, production will be led by veteran Canadian singer Peter Strummer, who last appeared with the company as the Sacristan in Tosca and Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. He meets his match in former Winnipegger Nikki Einfeld who will sing the role of Norina, the convent girl who spends his money like a real housewife of New Jersey.

Einfeld was a triumph as Marie in the company’s 2012 production of The Daughter of the Regiment. Making their Manitoba Opera debuts are baritone Brett Polegato as Dr. Malatesta, the mastermind behind the marriage, and tenor Michele Angelini, Pasquale’s nephew, who would rather marry for love than money.

Whether you are seeing La Bohème for the first time or the 50th, it is sure to steal your heart with its timeless coming-of-age story of young love and loss set against a background of poverty in the Bohemian Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1830s. The exuberant passion of youth erupts as these young artists live and love with all their hearts and discover that painting, poetry and philosophy are just reflections of life, not life itself.

Making her Manitoba Opera debut is American soprano Danielle Pastin as the sweet seamstress Mimi. Singing the role of Rodolfo, her boyfriend, is American tenor Eric Fennell, also making his Manitoba Opera debut. Winnipeg soprano Lara Ciekiewicz, who appeared last season as the High Priestess in Aida and in 2011 as Papagena in The Magic Flute, returns this time as the tempestuous Musetta. Also in a Manitoba debut will be American baritone Keith Phares as Marcello, the painter who tries to keep up with her.

Both operas will be sung in Italian with English surtitles projected above the stage.

Subscriptions and casual tickets are now on sale for all shows and events. For more information, go to www.manitobaopera.mb.ca or call 204-957-7842.

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