The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Director William Farlow talks about Puccini’s one-act operas to be performed at UW this weekend | October 28, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

On Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Old Music Hall (below), the University Opera will perform “Suor Angelica and “Gianni Schicchi” from Puccini’s series of three one-act operas comprising “Il Trittico.”

Repeat performances, with alternating leads, are on Sunday at 3 p.m. and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

The production is directed by William Farlow with the UW Symphony Orchestra. It will be sung in Italian with projected English surtitles.

Farlow’s cast includes undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, supported by the UW Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James Smith.

The title role in “Suor Angelica” is shared by Lindsay Sessing (October 29 and November 2) and Celeste Fraser (October 31) while the role of La Principessa is performed by UW-Madison alumna Kathleen Otterson.

The title role in “Gianni Schicchi” is performed by John Arnold, with Megan Gryga as Lauretta and J. Adam Shelton as Rinuccio.

In addition to a sizeable ensemble in both casts, other roles are performed by: Amy Sheffer (Abbess), Katherine C. Peck (Monitor) and Leslie Lukas (Mistress of Novices) in “Suor Angelica” and Benjamin H Schultz (Simone), Michael Roemer (Marco) and Kathleen Otterson as Zita in “Gianni Schicchi.”

Production staff includes costume designers Sydney Krieger and Hyewon Park, technical director Greg Silver, lighting designer Steven M. Peterson, set designer Angelina Paoli, vocal coach Bill Lutes and chorus master Susan Goeres. The English surtitles are by Christine Seitz.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for seniors/non-UW-Madison students and $10 UW-Madison students. Call 608 262-1500 or (608) 265-ARTS or visit, or 608 262-1500.

Director William Farlow (below) recently took time out from his hectic rehearsal schedule to grant an interview to The Ear:

How would you place and compare each of these two works historically and artistically among Puccini’s other major and minor scores?

They are quite unique in the list of Puccini operas.  They are one-act operas unlike his others works. Although Le villi is in two acts it’s quite short, too.  “Suor Angelica” is the only one of his works with a religious theme and “Gianni Schicchi” (below) is his only comedy.

Do these operas hold a special place for you in your career?

Most certainly!  I first encountered Schicchi at the age of twenty when I alternated the roles of Marco and Schicchi.  I then went on to direct productions of it since 1978.  I have directed “Suor Angelica” (below) for 30 years, an opera dear to my heart.

What should audiences especially look for and listen for in the UW productions of these two works?

The extraordinary talented young singers.  I have taken a traditional approach to “Suor Angelica” (below right), but in “Schicchi” (below left) we have updated it to the 1950’s.

How has the UW Opera weathered the recession and the state budget and university cuts?

Historically, we only receive a small portion of our budget for the university.

How was attendance and fiscal matters last season?

We have a faithful flowing and continue to draw large audiences.

Have you had to make cuts or change plans in what you present or how you present it?

My colleagues are astounded at the quality of our productions in spite of lack of funding.

What else would you like to say about the production or the opera themselves?

These works are rarely performed by professional companies, so it is especially gratifying to be presenting them.

Posted in Classical music

1 Comment »

  1. […] Source: Classical music: Director William Farlow talks about Puccini’s one-act operas to be achieved durin… […]

    Pingback by Classical music: Director William Farlow talks about Puccini’s one-act operas to be performed at UW this weekend | 7 Top M Download — October 30, 2010 @ 7:36 am

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