You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Dorota Sobieska’ tag.

by Daniel Hathaway

Bruges-Die-tote-TtadtOpera Circle staged an enticing production of Erich Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (“The Dead City”) on Saturday, June 14 at the Ohio Theatre in PlayHouseSquare. The opera is something of a rarity, probably because of the challenges of dealing with the eerie subtleties of its plot, its demand for a Heldentenor to sing the role of Paul, and its opulent 1920s orchestration. Die tote Stadt is a major undertaking for any small company, but Opera Circle admirably rose to the task.

Though not flawless, the production succeeded in the most important operatic category: the music. A strong and dedicated cast of singers and generally fine playing from a 65-piece orchestra expertly led by Grigor Palikarov brought Korngold’s colorful and sometimes creepy music vividly to life.

The opera, based on Georges Rodenbach’s 1892 novel, Bruges-la-Morte, and set in that Belgian canal town, explores the obsession of a widower (Paul) after the death of his wife (Marie). Read the rest of this entry »


By Daniel Hautzinger

KorngoldErich Wolfgang Korngold isn’t exactly a household name, but you’ve probably heard music by him or imitating him. Korngold, an Austrian composer active in the first half of the twentieth century, is best known in the US for his scores of such Hollywood films as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Prince and the Pauper in the ‘30s and ‘40s. As the distinguished music journalist Donald Rosenberg said in a phone interview, “He really changed the whole trajectory of film scores by writing very lushly for the orchestra, using it almost as a character in the drama, and by writing scores that were essentially operatic, with themes for different characters.”

Yet before he worked in Hollywood, Korngold achieved great success as a composer of concert and theater music. On June 14, Opera Circle will present Korngold’s opera Die Tote Stadt (“The Dead City”) at the Ohio Theatre in PlayhouseSquare. In anticipation of that production, Rosenberg has been giving a series of introductory programs on Korngold and Die Tote Stadt at libraries throughout the area (see our concert listings page for times and locations). Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Long-ShotFor the second title of its eighteenth season, Opera Circle mounted an impressive production of Verdi’s La traviata in the handsome old-world ballroom of Bohemian National Hall on February 28 and March 2. I saw the opening night performance.

Traviata was staged in collaboration with Robert Cronquist and the semi-professional Cleveland Women’s Orchestra, who occupied a “pit” curtained off in front of the stage.

Opera Circle is a fearless company that operates as an extended family affair with high artistic aspirations. When everything clicks, its productions rise above the sum of their parts. Traviata enjoyed a trouble-free opening night on Friday with an attractive cast of well-matched singers and fine production values. The stage direction was shared between Cronquist and Dorota Sobieska (who is executive director of the company and as its prima donna, also sang the lead role of Violetta). Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

SOBIESKA-MILESAfter the premiere of La traviata in March of 1853, Verdi wrote to composer, conductor and friend Emanuele Muzio: “La traviata last night a failure. Was the fault mine or the singers’? Time will tell.”

Today Verdi’s opera has not only found a place in the standard operatic repertoire, but during the 2012/13 season it was ranked first on Operabase’s list of the most performed operas in the world.

On Friday February 28 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 2 at 3:00 pm, Opera Circle presents Verdi’s La traviata at the Bohemian National Hall. The cast includes Dorota Sobieska as the famed courtesan Violetta Valéry, Matthew Miles as her young love interest Alfredo Germont, and José Andrade as Giorgio Germont, Alfredo’s meddlesome father. Conductor Robert L. Cronquist leads the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra.

What I love about Verdi is that there’s always a tune,” Matthew Miles said by telephone during a rehearsal break. “I’ve loved learning the part, it’s been so much fun.” “Musically it’s one of the best operas ever written,” Dorota Sobieska added during the conversation. “But it’s not just the great tunes but the emotional highlights as well.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

OC-Le-Villi-(Eddy-Wong)Opera Circle presented the first of two performances of Puccini’s Le Villi in Tucker Hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights on Friday, October 18.

The opera, Puccini’s first, is deservedly obscure. It was premiered as a one-act in Milan in 1884 (playing contrabass in the pit was the 21-year old Pietro Mascagni, who six years later was to compose Cavalleria Rusticana, a much more lasting one-act). The Italian music publisher Ricordi urged Puccini to expand Le Villi, and the resulting two-act version is what was performed this weekend. Despite Puccini’s already apparent eye for emotion, the opera feels both overwrought in its passion and slim on human narrative.

The action is far from the verismo naturalism that underlies, and grounds, Puccini’s greater operas. Set in a fairyland German forest, the opera begins with Roberto (tenor Matthew Miles) leaving his village to collect an unexpected legacy from an aunt in the city. His fiancée is Anna (Opera Circle executive director and soprano Dorota Sobieska) who has a bad feeling about his departure. Roberto’s impassioned pleas (“never doubt my love!”) do not assuage her fears. Nonetheless, her father Guglielmo (baritone Jeremy Gilpatric) joins the villagers in a dance and then a prayer for the couple. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

SOBIESKA-DorotaGiacomo Puccini’s first staged work, Le Villi (The Wills or The Fairies), with libretto by Ferdinando Fontana, received its premiere in Milan on May 31, 1884 in its original one-act version. The opera is based on Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s short story, Les Willis, which in turn was based on the central European legend of the vila. On Friday, October 18 at 7:30 pm in Tucker Hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Sunday, October 20 at 4 pm in the Polish-American Cultural Center, Opera Circle will present Le Villi. This weekend’s performances will be Opera Circle’s first production of any Puccini opera.

I have a great respect for Puccini. I think he was a genius,” says Opera Circle executive director and co-founder Dorota Sobieska (left). “But it is easy to take that genius on a superficial level and create a production that is very nostalgic. While that is acceptable, I think there is much more to him. To approach Puccini seriously you need a more in-depth look into the resources that are available in order to get a bigger perspective on him and his times.”

Sobieska, who holds a doctoral degree in English from Kent State University (with an interdisciplinary dissertation on British Romantic poetry, music, and philosophy of art) says that Romanticism has always spoken to her. She sees the opera as an extended Lied. “It is written in what I [describe] as the greater romantic lyric that dominates the romantic era. I think of Puccini as a lyrical composer, but this opera is not only lyrical in terms of the musical line, but it’s lyrical as a story. It reminds me of the greater romantic lyric pieces like Schubert’s Der Erlkönig.Read the rest of this entry »

by J.D. Goddard

OCRigolettoRigolettoBefore performing at a major theater in downtown Cleveland last Saturday for the first time in its 17-year history, Opera Circle logged an impressive record of 47 opera performances in churches and other venues throughout Northeast Ohio. On June 15, Opera Circle brought to the Ohio Theater stage in PlayhouseSquare an adventuresome production of one of the most venerated operas of all time, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. In the works for over two years and previously performed on a smaller scale in 2007, Opera Circle’s Rigoletto bravely broke away from the company’s past operational and financial constraints.

The production’s frugal yet effective sets and upstage projections, somewhat restrained lighting and straightforward staging allowed its strong cast of singers to keenly concentrate on the dramatic flow of this most tragic of stories, free from the distraction of flamboyant and opulent sets. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Sobieski-FamilyYoungstown State University’s Dana New Music Festival XIX held its ultimate concert at St. Columba Cathedral on Wednesday evening, May 1, featuring new works by faculty, student and community composers, a couple of not-so-new-music selections by French and American composers and several Polish pieces performed by four members of the Sobieski family (left) who had also been featured at a noontime concert at the Butler Institute of American Art. The Festival Orchestra was conducted by composition professor Robert Rollin and other performances featured members of the Dana Composers Ensemble (directed by Gwneth Rollin). The two-hour concert, played without intermission, offered an intriguing buffet of musical styles.

Youngstown composer Richard Zacharias’s All Right, Time to Go, ironically opened the evening with intriguing back-and-forth monologues between violin (Natalie Sahyoun) and piano (Alison Morris) who only later joined in dialogue. Both in the opening work and in Zacharias’s Duo Two (a first performance), the pairs of instrumentalists seemed to be trying to start up a conversation but communication proved difficult. Duo Two was distinguished by strong horn playing from Stephen Klein, with the fine assistance of pianist Maria Fesz. Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Rollin

Thishere past Sunday, Opera Circle in conjunction with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra presented a fine production of Rossini’s Barber of Seville, one of the great comic operas of the Italian repertoire. As with all comic opera, pacing is critical to a successful production, and the Opera Circle Company moved deftly through the four scenes, never bogging down in detail — this despite the extra intermission required by the Bohemian National Hall’s scene-change space limitations. Notwithstanding, the building, with its pre-turn of the century high ceilings, magnificent staircase, and wonderful gallery space, made for a lovely setting. The carefully planned blocking and staging helped the flow, and enhanced the comically-motivated scenario.

Three talented singers led the male dominated cast: baritone John Grey Watson, a Cleveland Institute of Music-trained Northeast Ohio native, was excellent as Figaro. His light baritone range was appropriate to the shrewd, politically savvy barber, who helps thwart the aging Dr. Bartolo’s plans to marry young Rosina, his ward. His experience on an Oberlin-sponsored Italian opera tour no doubt helped his impressive fluidity. He displayed great poise and comfort throughout the opera, from his very opening first-scene aria. The show hinges on his ability to make the canny barber seem real, and he did this with great success. Read the rest of this entry »

OC-RossiniIn its seventeen seasons, Cleveland’s enterprising Opera Circle has produced many titles by Bellini, Verdi, Donizetti and Mozart, and has taken on a rare work by Szymanowski, but some stones remain unturned. “We’ve never done Rossini and we wanted to do a comedy for a change”, said executive director and soprano Dorota Sobieska. The obvious choice was Barber of Seville, which will open on Friday, February 22 at 7:30 pm at the Bohemian National Hall in Cleveland with the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra led by Robert Cronquist. A second performance will be on Sunday the 24th at 3:00.

We have a very strong cast for the opera”, Sobieska said in a phone conversation. Two of those singers, bass Timothy J. Bruno (Don Basilio, right) and tenor Matthew Miles (Count Almaviva, center), are especially well prepared for Barber, having sung in Opera Western Reserve’s one-night production last November at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, a performance headlined by Lawrence Brownlee, one of the great bel canto tenors of our time. Read the rest of this entry »

Donation Banner

Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
Timothy Robson
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
Alexandra Vago
Tom Wachunas