LSM Newswire

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Maine Native Ashley Emerson takes the lead in PORTopera’s summer mainstage

PORTLAND, Maine — PORTopera’s 2011 mainstage production, The Daughter of the Regiment, stars Bangor, Maine native and University of Southern Maine graduate Ashley Emerson in the lead role, supported by a cast of seasoned performers and another up-and-coming young artist. PORTopera presents the opera comique The Daughter of the Regiment (La Fille du Régiment) in two performances on Thursday, July 28 and Saturday, July 30 at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m.

Ashley Emerson (soprano) caught the opera “bug” when she performed in the chorus of PORTopera’s 2003 production of Lucia di Lammermoor and was selected to be a PORTopera Young Artist, appearing in other PORTopera productions. She then entered and won the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition and, based on this performance, was invited to the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program. She has since appeared at the Met in productions of La Rondine and Macbeth, and she made her professional stage debut there in Le nozze di Figaro. She has also performed with Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, Opera Grand Rapids, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Emerson performs the role of Marie, the lead in The Daughter of the Regiment.

The other young artist joining Emerson is Andrew Bidlack (tenor). He comes out of the prestigious San Francisco Opera Merola and Adler Young Artist programs and has performed with New York City Opera and Florida Grand Opera, among others. PORTopera Artistic Director Dona D. Vaughn says, “He has the perfect voice for this role and I can’t think of a better match for Ashley in this opera.” He is gaining a reputation for bel canto roles such as the one he will perform in The Daughter of the Regiment, Tonio.

Jan Opalach (bass baritone) is well known to PORTopera audiences; he sang in Don Giovanni and Barber of Seville, and at the 15th Anniversary Gala Concert. He is widely known as one of the best singing actors in America and has a list of credits going back over 20 years, including with New York City Opera, Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Metropolitan Opera, among others. Opalach will sing the role of Sergeant Sulpice, the regimental “father” of Maria.

Maria Zifchack (mezzo-soprano) returns to PORTopera from last season’s production of Hansel and Gretel in which she sang the role of Gertrude (the mother). Zifchack is a regular at the Metropolitan Opera, last appearing in the HD broadcast of il Trovatore. She will perform the role of La Marquise.

PORTopera welcomes newcomer Jeffrey Tucker (bass). His long resume of bass roles includes performances at New York City Opera, Opera Omaha, Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera and others nationally and internationally. Tucker takes on the role of Hortensius.

Ellen Chickering, Maine-based soprano and voice instructor at the University of Southern Maine and former director of PORTopera’s Young Artists Program, is slated to play a cameo role as the Duchess of Krakenthorp. The Duchess is usually a non-singing role, but in this production she will sing a comic song.

Artistic and Stage Director Dona D. Vaughn, recently honored with an honorary degree from the University of Southern Maine, will be joined by Conductor Stephen Lord, named one of the “25 most powerful names in Opera” by Opera News.

The Daughter of the Regiment is Gaetano Donizetti’s tale of war, family and true love. A comic opera in two acts, Donizetti’s story follows the adventures of a young girl, Marie, who was raised by the soldiers of the 21st Regiment of Napoleon's Army. Marie faces innumerable predicaments as she strives to find her happy ending. As one of the best-known bel canto (beautiful singing) operas, The Daughter of the Regiment features magnificent arias and ensembles as well as a large chorus and full orchestra. The Daughter of the Regiment will be sung in the original French with English supertitles.

Tickets for The Daughter of the Regiment are available through and start at $41, including the PortTix handling fee. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office, 20 Myrtle Ave, between noon and 6 pm Monday through Saturday.

PORTopera is Maine’s only opera company performing fully staged operas with nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. For more information about PORTopera, its Young Artists Program and mainstage performance, visit

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