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Pocket Opera Renews Itself for the 2019 Season

January 2, 2019

Only a year ago, Pocket Opera founder Donald Pippin was still the leading light of the company, but at age 91, he also relied on essential support such as that coming from Artistic Director Nicolas Aliaga Garcia.

Since he created the unique company 41 years ago, Pippin did it all: program each season, cast the shows, oversee productions, lead the Pocket Philharmonic from the piano, translate libretti brilliantly, and play host to, introduce and narrate the operas. Now, with changes in leadership just announced, Pocket Opera will have a different structure, but still following Pippin’s approach:

“Each opera is translated from its original language into lyrical, concise English – carefully arranged to create the greatest possible fidelity to the composer’s intent. Recitatives are often replaced with wry, witty narrations — ensuring that audiences are always in on characters’ schemes and intrigues.

“Pocket’s audience-friendly performances are presented in intimate, inviting theaters, to create a form of operatic expression not easily duplicated elsewhere.”

Pippin now has the title of artistic director emeritus, Aliaga remains artistic director, Jeffrey Jordan is executive director, and Chung-Wai Soong is general manager.

Season No. 42 opens on Feb. 24 (Hillside Club in Berkeley), with Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love (repeated March 3, Legion of Honor in San Francisco, and March 10, Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto) — with Ellen Leslie as Adina, Michael Desnoyers as Nemorino, and Michael Mendelsohn as Dulcamara. César Cañón is music director, Andrew Morgan is stage director.

Smetana’s The Two Widows follows, March 24 (Berkeley) and 31 (San Francisco), with Jaime Korkos as Anezka and Lindsay Roush as Karolina. Frank Johnson is music director, Aliaga is stage director.

Puccini’s La Rodine is performed on April 28 and May 5, with Erin O’Meally as Magda, Patrick Hagen as Ruggero, Liesl McPherrin as Lisette, and Sam Faustine as Prunier. David Drummond will be music director.

June 2, 9, and 16: Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, with Robert Vann in the title role, Chelsea Hollow as Olympia, Rabihah Dunn as Giulietta, and Erina Newkirk as Antonia. Frank Johnson is music director.

Finishing the season is Pocket Opera’s first coproduction with Cinnabar Theater, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, with Igor Viera in the title role, Maya Kherani as Rosina, and Sergio Gonzalez as Almaviva. Mary Chun is music director, Elly Lichenstein is stage director.

Subscriptions are now available, single tickets go on sale in mid-January at $49, senior tickets at $44, and youth (under 25) tickets for $25.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].

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