The Catholic University of America

Nov. 9, 2011

CUA to Stage Two Operas: Suor Angelica and La voix humaine

For this year’s fall opera production, the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will present two one-act operas, Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) and La voix humaine (The Human Voice), by Giacomo Puccini and Francis Poulenc, respectively.

The double bill performances will be staged in Ward Hall’s Recital Hall Friday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Nov. 20. Performances will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 and 19, and at 2 p.m. on Nov. 20.

Suor Angelica premiered as part of Giacomo Puccini’s Il Tritico of 1918. The one-act opera tells the story of Sister Angelica, a humble nun who is overcome with grief when she learns that the son she was forced to give up before taking the veil has died. She poisons herself, but her anguish is quickly replaced by guilt and repentance. She calls upon the Virgin Mary for help, but is it too late?

La voix humaine is Francis Poulenc’s 1959 lyric tragedy, with a libretto by Jean Cocteau. It features a solo soprano, whose lover of five years confesses by telephone that he has decided to marry another woman. As the woman’s world quickly begins to collapse, the faulty Paris telephone system adds more frustration to her already desperate state.

The one-woman opera will be performed by two opera students on alternating nights.

The students “have achieved great success in mastering the French language necessary to portray the character,” says Sharon Christman, head of the music school’s vocal performance program.

“The comparison of a production by Puccini — who wrote his own expectations regarding stage movement and limitations on innovations — to one so completely open to interpretation by Poulenc gives the audience and the students involved dramatic contrast,” Christman says.

The production will be directed by Katerina Souvorova, instructor of voice and opera coach, and conducted by doctoral candidate Joel Borelli-Boudreau, with stage direction by Jay Brock, clinical assistant professor of musical theatre.

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for seniors, students, and CUA alumni, faculty, and staff. For more information, contact the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at 202-319-5416.

The weekend of March 16 to March 18, 2012 ,the music school’s opera program will continue its “Puccini Year” with the production of Madama Butterfly.

MEDIA: To cover a performance, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.

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Artistic Directors:

Katerina Souvorova is an accomplished pianist as well as a distinguished professional opera and vocal coach. Souvorova’s work with the Baltimore Opera as a principal accompanist included Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, Verdi’s Il Trovatore, Strauss’s Salome, Puccini’s Fanciulla del West, and Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She is founder and general and artistic director of Bel Cantanti Opera in Washington, D.C. She started the company in 2003, training a handful of young singers to perform Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Bel Cantanti’s first fully staged opera production.

Souvorova’s work was highly acclaimed by Joe McLellan, the late classical music critic emeritus of The Washington Post who said: “...Katerina Souvorova [is] a pianist of international stature and vocal coach of extraordinary talent…We can credit her with a high level of skill, both in music and in human relations, and an even higher level of determination.”

Joel Borrelli-Boudreau is the head enlisted conductor and principal trombone of The United States Naval Academy Band, “The Navy’s Oldest and Finest.” During his off-duty hours, he serves as the director of music of Galilee Lutheran Church, Pasadena, Md. Borrelli-Boudreau has performed with the Boston, Cincinnati, and Baltimore Symphony Orchestras, and was a member of the orchestras of the Baltimore Opera Company, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, and the West Palm Beach Opera. Additional performance credits include performances with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Royal Ballet, and the Miami City Ballet orchestras.

Jay D. Brock teaches Sophomore Workshop and Senior Seminar and serves as stage director for many of the operas, play, and musicals at Catholic University.

Brock has directed more than 30 regional and University performances from coast to coast. He is the co-founder and artistic director of Opera Alterna for which he has produced and/or directed: Gallantry, Padrevia, Magnum Opus, Signor Deluso, The Women, and Dido & Aeneas. He also serves as the artistic director of Limelight Theatre for which he has directed The Last Five Years and Closer than Ever. In addition he has artistic credits with many notable theatres nationally including Folger Theatre, Theatre J, The Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Synetic Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center, and Antaeus Company. Jay has taught acting/directing courses on both coasts as well as internationally, including Thailand, Mexico, and the Philippines.