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Island City Opera Takes Big Ideas on the Small Scale

August 28, 2018

Ambitious, small-scale opera is something the Bay Area does best. What’s not pegged for a multimillion dollar production at SFO finds a home at one of the many local companies offering intimate stagings, undersung masterpieces, or just something different. Island City Opera (ICO) — a four-year-old company based in Alameda — has announced its 2019 season, continuing in the tradition of local operatic ingenuity.

Like in previous seasons, ICO will present two contrasting productions in January and March of next year: Mark Adamo’s Little Women and Puccini’s La Rondine. With accessibility and a range of audiences in mind, ICO aims to stage works from across the operatic repertoire that showcase professional, as well as burgeoning, vocal talent.

Adamo’s Little Women, a 1998 commission from Houston Grand Opera, championed by then-General Director David Gockley, has proven a contemporary favorite at U.S. opera houses, experimental companies, and especially conservatories. ICO’s production suggests a return to the original’s modest staging, but not without the grand lyricism of the score. Igor Vieira (a company stalwart) and Dana Sadava will direct; singers Deborah Rosengaus, Katja Heuzeroth, Aimée Puentes, and Angela Jarosz return as sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. Four performances run Jan. 18, 20, 25, and 27 at the Alameda Elks Lodge Ballroom.

Puccini’s La Rodine might not be the composer’s most famous work, but it is perhaps his least depressing, as well as wonderfully tuneful and seldom staged. The comic tone of the love-crazy operetta will be matched by directors Jane Hammett and Jonathan Khuner, who oversee a cast that includes Eileen Meredith (Magda), Alex Boyer (Ruggero), Liz Russ (Lisette), Sergio Gonzalez (Prunier), and Anders Froehlich (Rombaldo). The four Elks Lodge performances are Mar. 8, 10, 15, and 17.

Tickets for both productions range from $10 to $60 and are free for children under 12. Pre-opera talks begin one hour prior to each performance. And in the spirit of Bay Area ingenuity, seasoned concertgoers and curious newcomers are welcome just the same.

Peter Feher is SFCV's assistant editor. A recent graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, he previously worked as SFCV’s journalism intern for the 2017-18 school year. He can be reached at [email protected].

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