New opera commissioned by Bella Vocci opera group

By Paula Cook & Gene Martin

Members, Bella Vocci Production Team

Bella Vocci, the primary source of live operatic music on our campus, is taking music at Riderwood to a new level. The world premiere of a new version of “Songs from the Auvergne,” by Carlos Rodriguez will take place in Riderwood Chapel at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11. Rodriguez’s composition was commissioned by Riderwood resident David Abraham, Founder and Artistic Director of Bella Vocci.

Almost a century ago, French composer Marie Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957) spent three decades collecting folk songs in the Auvergne, in south-central France. He arranged 30 of them for soprano voice accompanied by either orchestra or piano. Some of these songs have been used in media as varied as Lawrence Olivier’s film “Henry V” and at least one TV commercial (for wine), but they are best known to the general public thanks to recordings by several leading sopranos, including Victoria de Los Angeles, Kiri Te Kanawa and Renee Fleming.

The April concert will present 13 of the songs, newly arranged and composed by Dr. Rodriguez for soprano, mezzo-soprano and bass-baritone. Returning to the campus for this special world-premiere event will be Riderwood favorites soprano Suzanne Lane and mezzo-soprano Anamer Castrello, as well as bass-baritone Daren Jackson.

Dr. Rodriguez has worked as a collaborative artist with, among others, Jessye Norman, Denyce Graves and Placido Domingo. Together with Placido Domingo, Dr. Rodriguez is a co-founder and coordinator of the Zarzuela Program of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.

Dr. Rodriguez is an internationally-known concert pianist and will accompany the singers as they present the very first performance of his new work.

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