Arts & Culture

UK Opera Brings Puccini's 'Gianni Schicchi,' 'Suor Angelica' to Singletary Stage

Watch above as cast and UK Opera Theatre Director Everett McCorvey talk about the Puccini operas the program will present.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 8, 2019) — The University of Kentucky Opera Theatre (UKOT) will open their 2019-20 season with a double-bill evening of Giacomo Puccini’s one-act operas, "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica," Oct. 11-13, at the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall. 

The evening starts with the hilarious farce (and the only comedy written by Puccini) "Gianni Schicchi," which features one of the most popular soprano arias in all of opera — “O Mio Babbino Caro.” Set in Florence, Italy, "Gianni Schicchi" tells the story of a shady businessman who has been called in reluctantly by the Donati family to falsify the will of an uncle who has just died. He complies, but not exactly the way the family was hoping.

In the tragic melodrama "Suor Angelica," Sister Angelica has been shut away in a convent in Tuscany for seven years as punishment for a youthful indiscretion. She longs to see her family once more and learns that she will soon receive a visit from her aristocratic aunt. However, her aunt deals Angelica some soul-shattering news that changes her life forever.  

The second opera's ending is known to move audiences. "The last 20 minutes of 'Suor Angelica' is some of the most sublime music ever composed for the stage," said Tedrin Blair Lindsey, pianist, musicologist and vocal coach for UK Opera Theatre. 

"Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica" are two of the three one-act operas composed by Puccini grouped together under the utilitarian title "Il Trittico" or "The Triptych." First performed at the Metropolitan Opera Dec. 14, 1918, the trio of highly contrasting pieces offered a compelling, intense evening in the theatre. 

Texts for "Suor Angelica" and "Gianni Schicchi" were penned by Giovacchino Forzano, making the pair a natural selection for UK's double-bill program. 

UK Opera Theatre's production of these Puccini one-act operas is directed by Stephen Wrentmore, a lecturer in the UK Department of Theatre and Dance. The lead roles for the operas are double-cast. The cast of "Gianni Schicchi" features: Tshegofatso Clement Baloyi and Jeremy Kelly as Gianni Schicchi; Candace Williams and Fairynne Rogers as Lauretta; Houston Tyrrell and Taylor Comstock as Rinuccio; Catarine Hancock as Zita; Trey Darnell as Gherardo; Ashley Cissell as ​Nella; Hadley and Jaime Nardolillo as ​Gherardino; David Foster as ​Betto di Signa; Parker Van Houten as Simone; Tevin Vincent as Marco; Margaret Malone as La Ciesca; Samuel Powless as Maestro Spinelloccio and Pinellino; Xander Curry as Ser Amantio di Nicholao; and Nathaniel Thomspon as ​Guccio.

The cast of "Suor Angelica" features: Marquita Richardson and Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa as Sister Angelica; Savannah Etter and Ruthie Sangster as Suor Genovieffe; Kendra Beasley as La Zia Principessa; Kathrin Koenig Thawley as La Badessa; Gabrielle Orlayna Fuqua as La Zelatrice; Emma Scott as La Maestra delle Novizie; Carrie Moscoe as ​Suor Osmina; Katie Copeland as ​Suor Dolcina; Casteel Fullen as La Sorella Infermiera; Lillian Broderick as ​Sorella Cercatrice I; Paige Middleton as ​Sorella Cercatrice II; Casey Mayo as Una Conversa; Margaret Malone as La Conversa II; and Sydney Carbo as Una Novizia. The ensemble will include Harper Bullard, Ashley Cissell, Catarine Hancock, Maeve Hoppen, Ashley Patak, ​Fairynne Rogers, Dawna Rae Warren and Candace Williams. 

"Gianni Schicchi"  and "Suor Angelica" will begin 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Oct. 11-12, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13. Tickets for both operas are priced by seat location. Student tickets are $15, general seating ranges between $45 and $55. Processing fees and sales tax with be applied to the ticket purchase. Tickets can be purchased at the Singletary Center box office, by phone at 859-257-4929 or online at Discounts are available to faculty and staff only when tickets are purchased through the Singletary Center box office with a valid UK ID. Valet parking is available. 

In conjunction with the operas, UK Opera Theatre will present three discussions of the work for audience members wanting to learn more about Puccini's one-act operas. Two free pre-show discussions with the production's director, Stephen Wrentmore, will be presented 6:30-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11 and 12, at the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center, located at 412 Rose St. In addition, a more detailed discussion with Tedrin Blair Lindsay will be presented to benefit OperaLex from 10 a.m.-noon Sunday, Oct. 13, at Schmidt Vocal Arts Center. This discussion will be $20 for adults and $5 for students. 

UK Opera Theatre is part of the School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.