CSO Opera Series Opens With H.M.S. Pinafore Oct. 14, 16

Monday, October 4, 2004

Gilbert & Sullivan's blockbuster, H.M.S. Pinafore, launches the 2004 -2005 CSO AmSouth UnumProvident Opera Series. The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (CSO) continues its twentieth anniversary season celebration with an opera series opener that transports audiences to the quarterdeck of the Pinafore, anchored in 19th century Portsmouth, England.

H.M.S. Pinafore opens Thursday, Oct. 14 with a second performance on Saturday, Oct. 16. Both performances are at 8 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre.

Performed in English with English supertitles, H.M.S. Pinafore is a must-see for seasoned operagoers and novices alike, said officals.

Tickets start at $25. For tickets or information, contact the CSO Customer Service Center at (423) 267-8583, at 630 Chestnut Street or online at www.chattanoogasymphony.org. Inquire about group, senior and military discounts. Subscription tickets are available.

Review for H.M.S. Pinafore:
Gilbert & Sullivan's fourth collaboration, H.M.S. Pinafore, was wildly popular both in England, where it premiered, and in the U.S., where it was pirated by dozens of touring companies. Today, this silly tale filled with British sailors, infectious tunes and unexpected twists is one of laughter that the whole family can enjoy.

"The great operettas by Gilbert & Sullivan - H.M.S. Pinafore in particular, their first huge international hit -- combine beautiful music and incredible wit," said CSO Music Director and Conductor, Robert Bernhardt. "Our cast of wonderful singers brings marvelous acting skills and brilliant comic timing to a production that is going to be great fun."

Stage director Francis Cullinan, who worked most recently with the CSO when he directed La Bohème in 2003, returns to Chattanooga this season to direct H.M.S. Pinafore. Bernhardt said, "It's an enormous joy to be working with Francis again. His productions are always fresh, intuitive and entertaining."


Sir Joseph Porter - Keith Jurosko
Captain Corcoran - Darrell Babidge
Josephine - Kristin Reiersen
Ralph Rackstraw - Keith Jameson
Dick Deadeye - David Ward
Buttercup - Deborah Fields
Hebe - Rebecca St. Goar
Bill Bobstay - Christopher Burchett
Bob Becket - Jeffrey Tucker

Music Director and Conductor - Robert Bernhardt
Stage Director - Francis Cullinan
CSO Chorus Director - Darrin Hassevoort

Meet the Stars

Francis Cullinan, Stage Director
Francis J. Cullinan is equally at home on the stages of legitimate theater and opera. He has staged productions of the opera companies of Anchorage, Augusta, Chattanooga, Utah, Mobile, Piedmont, Tulsa, Opera Carolina, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Central City Opera, Utah Festival Opera, and Lake George Opera Festival. He has earned particular renown for the stage works of Noel Coward, Oscar Wilde, Somerset Maugham, J.M. Barrie, Alan Ackbourn, Brendan Behan; for the operetta and musical theatric works of Gilbert and Sullivan, Sondheim, Johann Strauss, and Franz Lehar; and for the serious and comic operatic works of Verdi, Donizetti, and Rossini. Cullinan served as a tenured associate professor of theater at the University of Missouri at Kansas City where he also served as coordinator of their MFA directing program.

Keith Jurosko* (Baritone), Sir Joseph Porter
Keith Jurosko, a mainstay of the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players for twenty-five years, has sung over 700 performances in more than twenty G & S roles. As an operetta specialist, he is much in demand as a guest artist and has appeared with many of the country's leading regional companies including Virginia Opera, Mobile Opera, Whitewater Opera, Sorg Opera, Goldcoast Opera and the Boston Academy of Music. Jurosko performed with New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players in their first season at New York's City Center and was featured in their 2003 25th Anniversary season performances. He debuted in 2003-4 with Mississippi Opera and returns in 2005 to direct The Mikado. Jurosko is one of the original members of the La Gran Scena Opera Company, whose zany parodies of grand opera have brought the company international acclaim and a virtual worldwide following.

Darrell Babidge (Baritone) Captain Corcoran
Darrell Babidge graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in England, having won four major prizes and awards and performed the roles of Nottingham (Roberto Devereux) and Lionel (Maid of Orleans). As a student, he also performed with Glyndebourne Festival Opera, in performances of the titles role in Britten's Owen Wingrave, Journalist in Berg's Lulu, and Diener in Strauss' Capriccio. In 2001 he graduated from the Manhattan School of Music funded by the Birgit Nilsson Scholarship. There he performed the roles of Count Robinson (Il Matrimonio Segreto), Junius (Rape of Lucretia) and Father Jackson (A Death in the Family). Upcoming engagements include his return to Utah Festival Opera as Dandini in La Cenerentola and Neville in The Secret Garden. He also made his Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in Faure's Requiem with MidAmerica Production and his debut with the Westchester Chorale as soloist in Mozart's Requiem.

Kristin Reiersen* (Soprano), Josephine
Soprano Kristin Reiersen is quickly gaining recognition for her versatility and astute interpretation of the lyric coloratura repertoire. As a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio 2001-2003, Ms. Reiersen won critical acclaim for her performance of Blondchen in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Other roles at Houston Grand Opera included Musetta in La Bohème, Pousette in Manon, Kristina in The Makropolous Case, and The Rose in the world premiere of The Little Prince by Academy Award winning composer Rachel Portman. Ms. Reiersen received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She was a frequent performer with the Opera Theatre. Ms. Reiersen is a 2001 winner of the prestigious Richard Gaddes Award from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, a 2001 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, New York District, and she was a finalist in the 2002 Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

Keith Jameson* (Tenor) Ralph Rackstraw
Keith Jameson is heard at the New York City Opera in the 2004-2005 in the title role of Bernstein's Candide. Since his debut with the company in the 2000-2001 season, he has performed a variety of roles such as Oronte in Handel's Alcina, Nanki-Poo in The Mikado, Attalo in Rossini's Ermione, Tobias in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Goro in Madama Butterfly, Gastone in La Traviata, Ugone in Handel's Flavio, Remendado in Carmen, Borsa in Rigoletto, the Song Vendor in Il Tabarro, Anfinomo in Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, Count Albert in Die tote stadt, Spoletta in Tosca, and Monostatos in The Magic Flute. A gifted interpreter of Gilbert and Sullivan, he has sung Nanki-Poo, Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance, and Hilarion in Princess Ida with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players at Symphony Space in NY, the Filene Center at Wolf Trap, and the Lake Placid Performing Arts Center.

David Ward (Bass Buffo), Dick Deadeye
David Ward is one of America's leading basso buffos, bringing his dazzling patter, his hysterical stage presence and his "shining bass" to productions of comic opera across the country. This season brings his 20th production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia in which he portrays Dr. Bartolo. His Bartolo has been seen with the New York City Opera National Company, Nevada Opera, Knoxville Opera, Kentucky Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, Opera Idaho, Toledo Opera, Virginia Opera, El Paso Opera, Opera Roanoke, Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts and the Aspen Music Festival. His other operetta roles include Prince Populescu Countess Maritza, Van Bett in Lortzing's Zar und Zimmerman, Calchas in Offenbach's La Belle Helene, Orlovsky, Franke and Frosch Die Fledermaus, Kecal The Bartered Bride and numerous roles in the Gilbert & Sullivan canon, among them The Mikado, Pooh Bah. He sang Sir Joseph Porter HMS Pinafore for the Lake George Opera Festival, 2002.

Deborah Fields* (Mezzo-Soprano) Buttercup
This season, Deborah Fields appears for the first time with the Dayton Opera as Alma March in Little Women. Performances last season included her portrayal of Effie Belle Tate in Carlisle Floyd's Cold Sassy Tree, Marcellina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera Carolina in Charlotte, and Katisha in Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado at both Opera Carolina and Piedmont Opera. Highlights of recent seasons include appearances as Flora in La Traviata, Marthe in Faust, and Gertrude in Romeo et Juliette. Ms. Fields has performed over fifty leading and supporting roles in opera, operetta and musical theatre. She received her Bachelor of Music in Operatic Performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Rebecca St. Goar (Lyric Mezzo) Hebe
Rebecca Tate St. Goar, lyric mezzo, is a UC Foundation Professor of Music at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. She has performed many 20th century works, including Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children, and premieres of Peter Temko's Still Voices and Jan Swafford's Iphigenia. With the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, she has performed Siebel in Faust, Cherubino in Marriage of Figaro and the mezzo solo in Alexander Nevsky. Other significant roles include Rosina with the Nashville Opera and Ramiro (La finta giardiniera) at the Music Academy of the West. Dr. St. Goar was a Fellow at the Bach Aria Institute in New York and has performed Bach with other Fellows in Jacksonville, FL and Lexington, KY. She has twice been a national finalist at the NATS Artist Auditions and is a former winner of the Palmai-Tenser Competition of the Mobile Opera and a regional finalist at the Met auditions.

Christopher Burchett* (Baritone) Bill Bobstay
Baritone Christopher Burchett has sung with Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Amarillo Opera, The Evansville Philharmonic, Indiana University Opera Theater, Santa Fe Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Union Avenue Opera Theatre, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, Kentucky Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the University of Louisville Opera Theater in such roles as Bill Bobstay in H.M.S. Pinafore, The Four Villans in Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Marchese D'Obigny, Elder Ott in Susannah, Reverend Olin Blitch, Count Ceprano, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dr. Dulcamara, Orsen in the world premiere of Edwin Penhorwood's opera Too Many Sopranos, and the Wolf in Semore Barab's Little Red Ridding Hood. Mr. Burchett has recently been awarded the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Award from the National Federation of Music Clubs, as well as first place in the American Bach Society/ Bach Choir of Bethlehem Competition. Mr. Burchett was a Metropolitan Opera Regional Finalist and Encouragement Award winner.

* CSO Debut Artist

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