Mozart opera gets a new look in Rowan production

Mozart opera gets a new look in Rowan production

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Mozart's 'La Clemenza di Tito' features original designs in Rowan Opera Company production this weekend.

One of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s final works, La Clemenza di Tito, is given an original, student-designed production by the Rowan Opera Company for four performances only, April 13 and 14 at 8 pm and April 14 and 15 at 3 pm in Pfleeger Concert Hall on the Glassboro campus.

Under the direction of Marian Stieber, the company features the talents of Rowan’s vocal music students, in addition to an ensemble from the university community and the region. They are joined by the Rowan Opera Orchestra, conducted by Salvatore Scarpa.

The cast is headed by D. Travis Washington of Pine Hill and Michael McEntee of Budd Lake alternating performances in the title role of Tito. They are joined by Alicen Ragonese of Elk Township and Corrie-Rose Recchia of Ocean Township alternating as Vitellia, Brittany M. Griffith of Egg Harbor Township as Sesto, Cassandra Moore of Woodstown as Annio, Jessica Rose Cohn of Philadelphia as Servilia and Andrew Bowling of Harrisburg (PA) as Publio, plus an ensemble of more than 30.

The creative team includes student set designer Matheus Fialho Fiuza (a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and resident of Cape Code) who has created a strikingly original look for the production. He and Stieber are joined by student lighting designer John-Michael Esposito of Laurel Springs and acclaimed Philadelphia-based costume designer Fatima Lavor Peters.

“We wanted to provide an elegant and active visual performance space to enhance our performers,” Fiuza notes. “We turned to Adolphe Appia for inspiration. Appia believed in rhythmic spaces, or spaces where performers could have dynamic movement and light caused mood changes to define setting; but we also wanted to make the night opulent. So we composed a space with several playing areas, exquisite fabric, a fiber optic star field and sophisticated costuming.”

In July of 1791, as Mozart was working on The Magic Flute, he received a commission for an opera to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia in early September. That work – La Clemenza di Tito - was finished in a matter of weeks. These were the final months of the composer’s life: he died in December of 1791. Based on an older libretto, reworked by Caterino Mazzola, Mozart’s opera is a powerful tale of romantic and political intrigue set in Rome in the year 79 AD. It tells of the betrayal of the Emperor Titus and his willingness to pardon those who conspire against him - even one who attempts to assassinate him.

Stieber is a professor of Voice and head of the Vocal Division at Rowan in addition to leading the Opera Company. She has earned critical acclaim as both an opera singer and concert artist, performing roles such as Mimi in La Boheme, Violetta in La Traviata, Marguerite in Faust, The Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro and the title role in The Merry Widow. Stieber has performed as a soloist with the Philadelphia Singers, Basically Bach Festival, Germantown Oratorio Society, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra and Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and has frequently appeared with The Philadelphia Singers at The Kimmel Center and at Carnegie Hall in New York. At Rowan, she has directed previous Opera Company productions of Carmen, The Magic Flute, Dido and Aeneas, The Pirates of Penzance and more. She has served as vocal director for numerous musical theater productions at The Ritz Theatre.

Pfleeger Concert Hall is located in Wilson Hall on the campus of Rowan University, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ. Tickets are $10, general admission; and $5 for seniors, non-Rowan students, Rowan staff & alumni. Rowan students are admitted free with valid ID. For tickets, visit rowan.tix.com or call the box office at (856) 256-4545.

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