Mozart in a Winter Wonderland!

Feb 8, 2010

By Kelly Markgraf

Since arriving in Omaha, I’ve been struck by — or at least reminded of –two things. The midwestern snow, and the undeniable genius and beauty of Mozart. The former I knew well growing up, as a native of Wisconsin. The latter I’ve certainly been acquainted with for some time, but this is the persistently pleasant way in which Mozart surprises you: no matter how well you think you know the music (or your role; I’ve performed this one with three other companies), you are, without fail, caught up in the radiant beauty of a moment you’ve never quite noticed before. Creeping up on you, the power of the music in Le Nozze di Figaro is that it is at once so simple and multi-layered. It speaks directly to the heart of listeners, both newcomers and veterans, and we walk away from the performance feeling illuminated.

For me this last week of rehearsals has been like a warm blanket. Coming back to a role that l love dearly during a full year of living on the road out of suitcases is like coming home. The trials of this vagabondian experiment have left my wife and I longing for a place to hang our hats — other than our storage unit in Manhattan. We thought, “Sure, let’s do it! We’re young, we’ll save money on rent, and just live wherever the jobs are.” Fast forward nine months and we’re aching for just the psychological comfort of being able to picture Home.

Fortunately, I’ve found myself in the company of a stellar cast, led by a trailblazing stage director and an unflappably creative conductor. This is one show that won’t have any of the characteristics that have been the bane of opera over the last few generations: poor acting, or “park ‘n’ bark” singing. You’ll find attractive young singers that can move and act just as well as they sing. With a plot that centers around a lecherous upper-class guy attempting to sleep with his servant’s fiance on the same day as their wedding, imagine something more along the lines of “Desperate Housewives” or “Nip and Tuck” — yes, really. Populate an incredible comic drama with performers like this, and you’ve got one memorable night in the theatre. I hope you’ll join us!

Kelly Markgraf, Baritone, is playing the adulterous Count Almaviva in Opera Omaha’s production of Mozart’s Comic Masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro.

Praised by the New York Times for his “charismatic” and “heart-stirring” singing, Baritone Kelly Markgraf makes his Opera Omaha debut with this season’s Nozze di Figaro. This past Fall brought his debut with New York City Opera as Masetto in their new production of Don Giovanni. Recent successes include Mamoud in a staged concert version of John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer, conducted by the composer, and Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff (Juilliard Opera Center), as well as his Carnegie Hall debut in the West Side Story portion of the all-Bernstein program that opened the 2008-09 season and was nationally televised, under Michael Tilson Thomas. Also in the 2008-09 season, Mr. Markgraf debuted with Pittsburgh Opera as Ragged Man in Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath (a role he created in the World Premiere at Minnesota Opera in 2007), and sang the role of the Bosun in Paul Curran’s production of Billy Budd at Santa Fe Opera, under the baton of Edo de Waart. A winner of numerous prestigious awards, including the top prizes in the Opera Index and Sullivan Foundation competitions, he maintains an active concert schedule, recently making his Carnegie Hall recital debut under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. In March 2010 he returns to Pittsburgh Opera as Escamillo in Carmen, and will return to Opera Omaha in 2011 for the title role in Don Giovanni.

Tickets start at just $19.

Friday | February 26, 2010 | 7:30p
Sunday | February 28, 2010 | 2:00p

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