Classical Music News of the Week, July 22, 2012

Ryan Brown Awarded
Medaille d'or du rayonnement

Having proven himself a beacon of light in preserving and
renewing French music, conductor Ryan Brown has been honored with the Medaille
d'or du rayonnement from La Renaissance Française. For more than a decade,
Brown has delighted international audiences with his re-discovery and inspired
performances of masterful French operas of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Brown is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of
the Washington, D.C., based Opera Lafayette which, in addition to sold out
seasons at the Kennedy Center and in New York City, has been engaged in an
ambitious recording agreement with Naxos since 2005. Recent releases in their
quickly growing discography include Monsigny's Le Deserteur and Rebel and Françoeur’s Zélindor, roi des Sylphes.

Continuing his mission of casting light on ignored French
masterpieces, Brown recently led Opera Lafayette in their debut performance of
Monsigny's compelling Le Roi et le
at the Opera Royal in Versailles. This autumn Opera Lafayette fans
can expect Naxos to release Grétry's Le
, followed by Le Roi et le
in 2013.

The non-profit French organization La Renaissance Français
was founded in 1916. Brown was presented with his award by French Ambassador
François Delattre on May 31st in Washington, D.C.

--Schwalbe and Partners, Inc.

Merola Opera
Program Presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera August 2 and 4

Program presents Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s La finta
giardiniera on Thursday, August 2 at 8 PM and Saturday, August 4 at 2 PM at the
Cowell Theatre at Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA. The cast features
bass-baritone Gordon Bintner, tenor Casey Candebat, soprano Jennifer Cherest,
tenor Theo Lebow, mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko, soprano Jacqueline Piccolino and
soprano Rose Sawvel. The production will be directed by Nicholas Muni and Gary
Thor Wedow will conduct.

“La finta giardiniera is an opera that explores
post-traumatic stress syndrome and identity crisis, within the language and
traditions of commedia dell'arte,” says director Nic Muni. “It is a piece rife
with stock characters, outlandish turns of plot and, at the same time, it is a
piece of striking originality in its exploration of human behavior in extremis,
leaving us with this question: Is it actually meant to be humorous or is the
subject matter too complex and profound to be a comedy?”

Conductor Gary Thor Wedow has been hailed for “hot music
making” by the Baltimore Sun and “convincingly elegant period style” in Opera
News. His most recent successes include Orphée and Die Zauberflöte for the
Seattle Opera, Le donne curiose for Wolf Trap Opera and Agrippina for Boston
Lyric Opera. Mr. Wedow has been a member of the Juilliard School faculty since
1994. He has established an enviable reputation for dramatically exciting and
historically informed performances with opera companies, festivals and choral
organizations throughout North America.

Director Nicholas Muni returns to Merola having most
recently directed the popular 2009 production of L’amico Fritz. He currently
serves as an Associate Professor of Opera and Distinguished Artist in Residence
at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Mr. Muni has served as Artistic Director
for Tulsa Opera and Cincinnati Opera as well as director of drama for the
Metropolitan Opera Young Artist Development Program. As a freelance stage
director, he has directed over 200 productions with companies in North America,
Europe and Australia. Recent directing credits include the US premiere of
Wagner’s Das Liebesverbot at
Glimmerglass Opera, Carmen at Boston
Lyric Opera and Postcard from Morocco
and Of Mice and Men at Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music.

Set in Italy in the early 1900’s, Merola’s production of
La finta giardiniera follows the story of the Marchioness Violante Onesti, who
flees her home and disguises herself as a gardener after her lover, Belfiore,
attacks her and leaves her for dead. In her quest to confront Belfiore,
Violante, who now goes by the name “Sandrina” encounters a cast of colorful
characters and finds herself caught between people who would do anything to get
what they want. Dealing with heavy issues such as attempted murder and madness
as well as lighthearted themes of love and mistaken identity, La finta
giardiniera is both comedic and serious, combining elements of both to arrive
at a happy ending.

The Merola Opera Program is dedicated to the continuing
education and training of the finest young operatic talent and the development
of this talent into professional opera singers, coaches and stage directors of
the highest artistic caliber. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration
with San Francisco Opera but is an independent nonprofit organization. Governed
by a separate board of directors, Merola is responsible for its own long-term
financial stability and fundraising, and is grateful to the hundreds of loyal
members, donors and foundations who support the Program.

--Karen Ames for Merola Opera

MasterCard and
Sonoma State University Unveil Long-Term Relationship in Support of the
Performing Arts

Effort to Support
Priceless Cultural and Music Experiences in Northern California

MasterCard and Sonoma State University today announced
details of a long-term relationship in support of the performing arts. Under
this relationship, MasterCard will become the title sponsor of the annual
MasterCard Performance Series.  The
company will also support the building of an outdoor pavilion for music and
dance at the Green Music Center, adjoining the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall.

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Trustees of the
California State University approved naming rights for the outdoor venue, to be
called the MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion.  This is the first corporate partnership of its kind for the

“We continually look for ways to create stronger
connections with consumers by understanding their passions and interest to
provide them with priceless experiences and memories,” said Alfredo Gangotena,
chief marketing officer, MasterCard. 
“We look forward to a relationship with Sonoma State University to
deliver unique music-related access and experiences to the local community and
the larger northern California region.”

MasterCard has several long-standing relationships in the
world of entertainment. “We are very excited about our significant, long-term
partnership with MasterCard, one of the world’s best and most admired
companies,” said Sandy Weill, chairman of the Green Music Center Board of
Advisors. “Having the support of MasterCard further emphasizes what we at
Sonoma State continue to believe – this is a transformative project that will
create an innovative learning environment for students and will provide an
economic boost to the area and help diversify its tourist base.”

As part of the relationship, Sonoma State University and
MasterCard will work together to offer a student internship program in the
field of entertainment and sponsorship management.  Additionally, MasterCard will work with Sonoma State University
to provide financial literacy programs or tools for the university’s students.
“Our vision is to aim high, reach wide, and educate all,” said Sonoma State
University president Ruben Armiñana. “We look forward to sharing this
extraordinary complex with music and art enthusiasts around the globe.”

Exclusive Pre-Sale Kicks Off Countdown to Grand Opening:

Located on the picturesque Sonoma State University campus
in the heart of California’s Sonoma wine region, Weill Hall officially opens
Saturday, September 29 with an Opening Night concert featuring Chinese piano
sensation Lang Lang.

Beginning Wednesday, July 18, MasterCard cardholders will
enjoy presale access to the twenty Priceless performances that comprise the
2012-13 MasterCard Performance Series (Sept. 29, 2012 through April 27, 2013).
Tickets go on-sale to the general public on Sunday, July 29.

A focal point for music in the region, the inaugural
season in Weill Hall features an array of internationally acclaimed performers
including vocalists Stephanie Blythe, Eli-na Garanc(a, Joyce DiDonato and
Barbara Cook; celebrated classical soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Vadim Repin, Wynton
Marsalis and Anne-Sophie Mutter; acclaimed early music ensembles Philharmonia
Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, Tallis Scholars and Il Complesso Barocco; and
Latin jazz greats Chucho Valdés and Buika. The Santa Rosa Symphony, Resident
Orchestra, offers a full season of programming at the Green Music Center and
the San Francisco Symphony will perform four concerts.

The Green Music Center complex allows for the integration
of performing arts, particularly in the fields of music and dance. The
MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion will be located on the northeast side of
the complex, and will add to the versatile venue arrangement by offering an
ideal location for larger outdoor performances. Currently in the planning
stages, the Pavilion will provide the ability to book an expanded range of
performers including more contemporary music and dance.

--Karen Ames for Sonoma State

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