Florentine Opera presents Midwest premiere of Elmer Gantry
March 19 and 21, 2010 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin—February 24, 2010—The Florentine Opera presents the second-ever fully staged production of Elmer Gantry, a new American opera, on March 19 and 21, 2010 at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Based on the novel by American author Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry is written by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein. The riveting score mixes traditional operatic forms with vibrant gospel hymns and American folk-inspired ensembles in a work that explores the complex and conflicted role of religion in American life. Elmer Gantry debuted at Nashville Opera in 2007.
While many are familiar with the Oscar-award winning film of the same name and the novel by Sinclair Lewis, creator Herschel Garfein notes, “Our Elmer Gantry [is] focused differently from Lewis's. We were determined to be true to his biting satire of religious wrongdoing, but at the same time to dramatize the underlying, deeply moving power of American religion itself. We resolved to bring audiences to the heights of both folly and glory within a single evening—sometimes within a single moment. To communicate to our audiences the emotional depths we ourselves had experienced in revival meetings, Bob envisioned not the typical operatic sound-world, but one drawn from American roots music—gospel, Appalachian folksong, brass band music. I began to write original hymn texts that could both seem like the real thing and work dramatically to illuminate key points in the story we were telling.”
John Hoomes, who last directed the Florentine’s highly acclaimed Salome in 2008, returns to direct an ensemble cast that includes baritone Keith Phares in the title role, which he also sang for the world premiere production. Soprano Patricia Risley makes her Florentine Opera debut as Sharon Falconer. Returning Florentine favorite artists include soprano Heather Buck (Lulu Baines), tenor Frank Kelley (Eddie Fislinger) and bass-baritones Jamie Offenbach (T.J. Rigg), and bass-baritone Matthew Lau (Reverend Baines), while tenor Vale Rideout will make his Florentine Opera debut as Frank Shallard. Celebrated conductor William Boggs will lead the renowned Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
Additional information about the production, the rest of the Florentine Opera’s 2009-2010 season and upcoming plans for the Company are available at www.florentineopera.org.
Additional information about the opera and its creators is available at the Elmer Gantry website.
A number of community events will be held in the weeks leading up to the opera. Click here for a complete list of events.