LSM Newswire

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oberlin Opera Theater Presents Candide, March 17-21, 2010

Oberlin Opera Theater Presents Candide
by Legendary American Composer Leonard Bernstein;
Performances Dedicated to Relief Effort in Haiti 
On Stage at Hall Auditorium, March 17-21, 2010 

OBERLIN, OHIO (March 1, 2010) — Oberlin Opera Theater will take audiences on a blisteringly funny, two-hour romp around the world in its spring production of Candide. With the legendary American composer Leonard Bernstein’s irresistible score and Hugh Wheeler’s witty libretto, the two-act operetta commandeers Voltaire’s 18th-century satirical masterpiece to follow the coming-of-age of four sheltered young people who were taught that “all is for the best” as they venture out into the world. Rising star and Oberlin alumnus Joseph Mechavich ’02 will be guest conductor. Stage direction is by Jonathon Field, associate professor of opera theater and director of opera theater productions at Oberlin.
The production opens on Wednesday, March 17, at 8 p.m. in Hall Auditorium, with additional performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students; $8 for Oberlin College faculty, staff, alumni, parents, area educators, and seniors; and $12 for the general public. 
The Oberlin Conservatory of Music will dedicate each performance of Candide to the relief effort in Haiti; representatives from the American Red Cross of Lorain County will be present at all performances to accept donations.
Young Candide, torn by war from his true love, Mademoiselle Cunegonde, is thrown into a world of greed, hypocrisy, and the cruelty of men toward their fellow creatures.  Holding tight to his belief in the basic goodness of the human spirit, Candide is tossed by circumstance into raucous misadventures on several continents, finding his love only to lose her again—and again.  An array of zany characters and absurdly comic situations punctuate his journey (as well as some delicious musical turns), until Candide returns home to piece together a new philosophy—a hopeful compromise between his blind faith and the bleak lessons he’s learned in the world.
Arguably the most successful native-born figure in the history of classical music in America, Leonard Bernstein shaped a legacy by bridging the worlds of the classical concert hall and musical theater. Candide, one of only a handful of operatic works by Bernstein, is a characteristic example of his compositional versatility. The score ranges from darkly comic musical theater (“The Best of All Possible Worlds”) to virtuosic coloratura arias (“Glitter and Be Gay”) to orchestral gems, such as the beloved overture. “The American culture is complex and disparate, and the music reflects that,” says Field.
“What unites Candide is the sound of Bernstein,” adds Mechavich. “I try to immerse myself in the historical world and musical language of the composer. I feel it is my duty as an interpreter to embrace and highlight the style of each piece. For me, as always, the text guides music.”
In 1956, playwright Lillian Hellman had a first go at the adaptation, which originated from Voltaire’s scathing 1759 political satire of the same name. Since 1974, however, Hugh Wheeler’s book has been the standard, with a version more faithful to Voltaire’s original work. A who’s who of the literary world has also contributed to the piece, with primary lyrics by former Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur and additional contributions by, among others, Stephen Sondheim and Dorothy Parker. 
Field insists that while amalgamating many different literary and musical styles, the structure of the piece enhances the portrayal of its message. “The styles don't come together and that has to be the strength,” says Field. “It needs to create a world that is constantly changing and corrupt, and the only thing that stays the same is Candide's belief that he and Cunegonde will be reunited and all will be well. We, as Americans, have embedded in our cultural makeup the innocence of Candide, and the idea that we are allowed a second chance.”

Performers and Production Team
The cast for this production of Candide is comprised entirely of Oberlin Conservatory students. Principal roles are double cast—one cast appears on Wednesday and Saturday and the other on Friday and Sunday. Principal roles will be played by:

Adrienne Sereta ’11 and Sydney Mancasola ’11 (Cunegonde), Sara Casey ’12 and Caitlin Bell ’10 (Paquette), Alexandra Roth ’10 and Katherine Jannakos ’13 (Old Lady), Roy Hage ’11 and Lucas Levy ’12 (Candide), Corey Arnold ’12 (Governor), Austin Bradley ’12 (Maximillian/Captain), Alex Boyd ’12 (Pangloss/Martin/Voltaire/
The opera’s production team of professional Oberlin staff members includes Alan Montgomery, assistant music director; Hugh Floyd, chorus master; Howard Lubin, musical preparation; Michael Louis Grube, managing director and set designer; Victoria Vaughan, assistant director and stage manager; Jeremy K. Benjamin, lighting designer; Chris Flaharty, costume designer; JoEllen Cuthbertson, costumer; Joseph P. Natt, technical director; Andrew Kaletta, master electrician; and David Bugher, assistant technical director.

About the Conductor: Joseph Mechavich

Known for his thoughtful and idiomatic interpretations, Joseph Mechavich is considered one of North America’s foremost young conductors. Recently Maestro Mechavich was named Principal Conductor and Music Director for Kentucky Opera where he has led past productions of Werther, Of Mice and Men, Il trovatore and The Pearl Fishers. He has conducted Madama Butterfly for New York City Opera, Porgy and Bess for Deutsche Oper Berlin, Il barbiere di Siviglia for The Washington National Opera, and Cendrillon for the Aspen Music Festival. Maestro Mechavich has also paced productions for Utah Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Birmingham, Tulsa Opera, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Lake George Opera Festival, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Fargo-Moorhead Opera and Virginia Opera. Equally at home on the concert stage as in the opera pit, Maestro Mechavich has appeared with the Orlando Philharmonic, Hartford Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Waterbury Symphony, Virginia Symphony and Sarasota Orchestra. Future engagements include Susannah for Des Moines Metro Opera, L’elisir d’amore and Madama Butterfly for Kentucky Opera and Aida for Calgary Opera.

A native of Long Lake, Minnesota, Joseph Mechavich studied at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the Yale University School of Music. Maestro Mechavich has held a variety of positions such as serving as Principal Conductor of Opera Birmingham for six seasons, cover conductor for The Santa Fe Opera for four seasons as well as Director of Music for Orlando Opera and Assistant Conductor for The Minnesota Opera.

About the Director: Jonathon Field
Stage Director Jonathon Field has become one of America’s more versatile and popular stage directors.  A trailblazer in the world of opera, Mr. Field is fascinated with traditional as well as modern stage techniques.  He has developed and used video-projected scenery for over twenty-five years in productions that have been called “brilliant”, “dazzling” and “riveting”. Mr. Field is currently the Director of the Oberlin Opera Theater and an Associate Professor at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Mr. Field directed the American premiere of Lost Highway, an opera based on the David Lynch film, that played to sold-out performances at the Miller Theater in New York.  He directed the world premiere of the jazz opera Leave Me Alone in a partnership between Oberlin Conservatory and Real Time Opera, which was one of the first operas to broadcast live on the internet.  His productions for Lyric Opera of Chicago of Trouble in Tahiti, Gianni Schicchi, The Old Maid and the Thief and The Spanish Hour were successfully revived at the Illinois Humanities Festival.   He directed touring productions of La Cenerentola and Die Fledermaus for San Francisco Opera’s Western Opera Theatre, which played in over twenty states. Over the past eight years Mr. Field directed ten productions with Arizona Opera, being deemed by the press “their most perceptive stage director.”  From 2000 through 2006 he served as Artistic Director of Lyric Opera Cleveland, where he presented the operas of Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti and the Ohio premieres of works by John Adams, Mark Adamo and Philip Glass.  Mr. Field received a Northern Ohio Live Award for his work on Don Giovanni in Cleveland, which was called, “An electrifying production that has come to be the hallmark of Field’s tenure.”

Mr. Field has been praised for his international work as well, having directed The Riverboat Show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Dido and Aeneas at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Suor Angelica and Menotti’s Amalia al Ballo at the Urbania Festival in Italy.  He has collaborated with such esteemed artists as Teresa Zylis-Gara, Jerome Hines, Pablo Elvira, Giorgio Tozzi and Angelina Reux.

Mr. Field’s expertise extends from the avant garde to musical comedy. In 1996, he introduced computer-generated scenery to the opera world in a production of Candide at West Bay Opera in Silicon Valley, CA, with assistance from Apple, Inc. The press called the show, “virtual Voltaire - the backgrounds are as varied as the story.” He pioneered the use of video-projected scenery in productions of The Turn of the Screw, Tales of Hoffmann and Der Freischütz.  In the realm of operetta and musical theatre, Mr. Field staged H.M.S. PinaforeTrial by Jury for Lake George Opera, Bernstein’s Wonderful Town in Chicago, and Merry Widow and Countess Maritza in San Francisco.  For the Oakland Symphony he translated and choreographed Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, using members of the Oakland Ballet.
for Opera Omaha,  Tickets for Candide at Oberlin Opera Theater are $5 for all students; $8 for Oberlin College faculty, staff, alumni, parents, area educators, and seniors; and $12 for the general public. Season subscriptions are also available. All seats are reserved. Tickets may be purchased online at; by calling Oberlin’s Central Ticket Service (CTS) 440-775-8169 or 800-371-0178; or by visiting the box office, located in the lobby of Hall Auditorium. CTS hours are from noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and select Saturdays. Tickets are $3 more when purchased at the door. Hall Auditorium is wheelchair accessible, and hearing enhancement is available upon request. Free parking is available throughout the campus. 

The Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music is renowned internationally as a professional music school of the highest caliber. Praised as a “national treasure” by the Washington Post, the conservatory, founded in 1865 and situated amid the intellectual vitality of Oberlin College since 1867, is the oldest continuously operating conservatory in the United States. Oberlin’s alumni enjoy illustrious careers in all aspects of the music world. They have achieved prominence as solo performers; chamber, orchestral, and jazz musicians; composers; conductors; and music educators, scholars, and administrators.  For more information visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 8 p.m.
Friday, March 19, 2010, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 20, 2010, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 21, 2010, 2 p.m.

Oberlin Opera Theater presents
By Leonard Bernstein
Libretto by Hugh Wheeler, after Voltaire
Joseph Mechavich, conductor
Jonathon Field, director

Hall Auditorium
67 N. Main Street
Oberlin, Ohio

Reserved seats: $12; seniors $8; students $5
All tickets are $3 more when purchased at the door.
Phone: 440-775-8169 or 800-371-0178
Central Ticket Service is located in the lobby of Hall Auditorium.
Open Noon to 5 p.m., Monday–Friday


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