Rita featuring san francisco opera adler fellows february 12-16

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA., January 14, 2014 – Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra begin the New Year with first-ever collaboration with San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows in a performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s rarely-performed one act comic opera Rita.


New Century begins its evening-long operatic adventure with orchestral works from famous operas arranged for the ensemble by former New Century Featured Composer Clarice Assad, including Johann Strauss’ Overture to Die Fledermaus, Massenet’s Meditation from Thais with Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg as soloist and Mascagni’s Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. Also featured on the program is the Prestissimo from Verdi’s String Quartet in E minor, the only surviving chamber work in the composer’s catalogue.


After intermission, soprano Maria Valdes, baritone Efraín Solís and tenor Thomas Glenn join the orchestra for Donizetti’s hilarious tale of domestic strife. Ms. Valdes and Mr. Solís are current San Francisco Opera Center Adler Fellows and Mr. Glenn is a graduate of the program. Originally titled Deux hommes et une femme (Two Men and a Woman), Donizetti’s Rita was completed in 1841 but never performed during the composer’s lifetime, receiving its premiere posthumously in 1860 at the Opera-Comique in Paris. Work on this opera began as a project by the composer to keep himself busy while he was in Paris waiting for the libretto to be finished for a commission by La Scala. The opera is a domestic comedy set in 18th century Italy and tells the tale of Rita, an inn-keeper and tyrannical wife, and her timid husband Beppe whose lives become difficult with the unexpected arrival of Rita’s first husband Gasparo, thought to have drowned. The libretto is written by Gustave Vaez who had previously co-written Donzietti’s Lucia de Lammermoor.


Two years in the planning, the collaboration brings the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra and San Francisco Opera Center together for the very first time. “Opera has been in my blood since I was a kid,” said Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. “I remember so well listening to those Saturday radio broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera with my grandfather. Being able to stage an opera with New Century is a dream come true for me.”


“We at the Opera Center are thrilled to be working with the fabulous New Century Chamber Orchestra, especially to have the chance to collaborate with the amazing violinist/musician, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg,” said Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald. “The Maestra loves opera and Rita is a wonderful comedic romp that will hopefully tickle her, and everyone’s, fancy! It’s the story of a wild and wacky love triangle of sorts and Donizetti’s music sparkles.”


Both collaborators see Rita as a means to attract new audiences and to challenge performers artistically. Casting was done by Ms. Greenawald, stage direction will be provided by Eugene Brancoveanu and the music was rescored and edited for the New Century Chamber Orchestra by Peter Grunberg.


Donizetti’s Rita will be given on four evenings in different locations around the Bay Area. Wednesday, February 12 at 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley, Friday, February 14 at 8 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, Saturday, February 15 at 8 p.m., SF Jewish Community Center, San Francisco and Sunday, February 16 at 5 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael. New Century also offers an Open Rehearsal, Tuesday, February 11 at 10 a.m. at the Kanbar Performing Arts Center in San Francisco for a price of $8. The Open Rehearsal will offer a sneak preview of the concert repertoire while allowing audiences to experience the musical democracy of a rehearsal without conductor.




New Century Chamber Orchestra

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Music Director


Donizetti’s Rita

February 12-16, 2014


Open Rehearsal: Tuesday, February 11, 10 a.m., Kanbar Performing Arts Center, San Francisco

Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley          

Friday, February 14, 2014, 8 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto 

Saturday, February 15, 2014, 8 p.m., SF Jewish Community Center, San Francisco    

Sunday, February 16, 2014, 5 p.m., Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, San Rafael


J. Strauss (arr. Lindstrom): Overture to Die Fledermaus

Mascagni (arr. Assad): Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana

Verdi: Prestissimo from String Quartet in E minor

Massenet (arr. Assad): Meditation from Thais

            Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, violin

Donizetti: Rita

            Rita, Maria Valdes

            Beppe, Thomas Glenn

            Gasparo, Efraín Solís     


Single tickets range in price from $29 to $59 and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400. Discounted $15 single tickets are available for patrons under 35.


Open Rehearsal tickets are $8 general admission and can be purchased through City Box Office: www.cityboxoffice.com and (415) 392-4400.


For further information on New Century, please visit www.ncco.org.




Maria Valdes:  Ms. Valdes has been praised for her sophisticated musicianship and natural tonal beauty and ease of singing. While still at the beginning of her career, Valdes is already recognized in the industry as a promising young artist.  Her most recent endeavor was singing the role of Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the Merola Opera Program in San Francisco.  Last year, she placed third in the southeast region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.  She went on to win the top prize at the Corbett Opera Scholarship Competition at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, which awarded her full tuition and a living stipend.


Maria Valdes is a Georgia native and attended Georgia State University where she studied with Richard Clement.  For five years she was a staff soloist at All-Saints’ Episcopal Church, where she gave two recitals on their concert series.  She has been heard in concert with ensembles including the Georgia State University Singers, the Atlanta Chamber Players, the Atlanta Sacred Chorale, the choirs of Emory University, Bent Frequency, and at the Bellingham Festival of Music in Washington.  Valdes is thrilled to be returning to San Francisco as an Adler Fellow this January. 


Thomas Glenn:  Mr. Glenn has performed at San Francisco Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Netherlands Opera and English National Opera among others.  His roles include Ferrando in Così fan tutte and the title role in La clemenza di Tito, as well as Italian bel canto roles such as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia and Tebaldo in Bellini’sI Capuleti e i Montecchi. He equally has a great love of 20th Century operas, particularly those of Britten, Stravinsky and Janácek.


He frequently performs with the Atlanta Symphony as well as orchestras like Cleveland Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada, China National Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Berkeley Symphony, Marin Symphony, and Santa Rosa Symphony.


Thomas is a graduate of the prestigious Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera where he enjoyed performing the Steersman in Der Fliegende Holländer, Vitek in Janacek's The Makropulos Case and Gherardo in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. Also at San Francisco Opera, Thomas created the role of Physicist, Robert Wilson in the world premiere of John Adams' Doctor Atomic.  He reprised this role in many productions and won a Grammy Award for his participation in the 2011 recording with the Metropolitan Opera on the SONY label.


Thomas holds three degrees in music performance: a bachelor’s from Brigham Young University, a master’s from The University of Michigan and a doctorate from Florida State University.  He is a past winner of the Concours International de Chant de Canari, France and a semi-finalist in the Monserrat Caballé Competition.


Efraín Solís:  First-generation Mexican-American baritone Efraín Solís is a first-year Adler Fellow. He has performed a variety of roles including the title role in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin with Russian Opera Workshop in Philadelphia, Guglielmo in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, and Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro. At the San Francisco Conservatory of Music he performed the title role in Mozart's Don Giovanni, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, and the title role in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. In the spring of 2013 he joined Opera Santa Barbara as a member of their Studio Artist Program where he sang the role of Il Notaio and covered Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale. As a participant of the 2013 Merola Opera Program he sang Junius in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and covered the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro. Chosen as a finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and the 2013 Houston Grand Opera's Eleanor McCollum Competition, he holds a Bachelor of Music from Chapman University and a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 




The New Century Chamber Orchestra, one of only a handful of conductorless ensembles in the world, was founded in 1992 by cellist, Miriam Perkoff, and violist, Wieslaw Pogorzelski. Musical decisions are made collaboratively by the 19-member string ensemble, including San Francisco Bay Area musicians and those who travel from across the U.S. and Europe to perform together. World-renowned violin soloist, chamber musician and recording artist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg leads from the concertmaster chair. She joined the ensemble as music director and concertmaster in January 2008, bringing “a new sense of vitality and determination, as well as an audacious swagger that is an unmistakable fingerprint of its leader,” according to Gramophone magazine.


In addition to performing classic pieces of chamber orchestra repertoire, New Century commissions important new works, breathes life into rarely heard jewels of the past and performs world premieres. The New Century Chamber Orchestra Featured Composer program commissions composers to write new works, with the goals of expanding chamber orchestra repertoire and providing audiences with a deeper understanding of today’s living composers. The orchestra provides insight into the breadth of the Featured Composer’s work by performing a variety of pieces by the composer throughout the season.


In 2011, Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg and New Century embarked on the Orchestra’s first two national tours together. The performances in the Midwest, East Coast, and Southern California garnered record-breaking audiences and national critical acclaim. In January and February 2013, New Century followed with a highly-successful eight-state national tour, the largest and most ambitious artistic undertaking in the organization’s history. In addition to touring efforts, New Century’s national footprint has also continued to grow with a rapidly increasing national radio presence. The ensemble has been broadcast over 30 times on American Public Media’s Performance Today, with each broadcast heard on 260 radio stations across the country.


The orchestra has released six compact discs. The two latest albums, Together (released August 2009) and LIVE: Barber, Strauss, Mahler (released November 2010), were recorded with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg on the NSS Music label. Other recordings include a 1996 collaborative project with Kent Nagano and Berkeley Symphony Orchestra featuring the work of 20th century-Swiss composer Frank Martin, and Written With the Heart’s Blood, a 1997 Grammy Award finalist, both on the New Albion label. In 1998 the orchestra recorded and released works of Argentine composers Alberto Williams and Alberto Ginastera on the d’Note label, and, in 2004, the orchestra recorded and released Oculus, a CD of Kurt Rohde’s compositions on the Mondovibe label. All of the recordings have been distributed both internationally and in the United States. The orchestra's first concert DVD, filmed by Paola di Florio, director of the 1999 Academy Award-nominated film Speaking in Strings, was released May 8, 2012. The DVD weaves together documentary footage and a live tour concert from a February 2011 performance at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.




Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, an internationally-acclaimed violin soloist and chamber musician best known for her exhilarating performances and passionate interpretations, joined the New Century Chamber Orchestra in January 2008 as music director. Nadja’s first five seasons were hailed as a tremendous success by audiences and critics alike – “a marriage that works,” in her words, and renewing enthusiasm for “one of the most burnished and exciting ensembles in the Bay Area,” according to Rich Scheinin of the San Jose Mercury News.


A powerful and innovative presence on the recording scene, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg continues to enrich the collection of her record label NSS Music, which she started in 2005. The label’s roster of artists includes Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg, pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, horn player John Cerminaro, pianist/composer Clarice Assad, conductor Marin Alsop, the American String Quartet, the Colorado Symphony, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo and the New Century Chamber Orchestra. Together, the first CD with New Century, features Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. The second CD, a live recording featuring Strauss’s Metamorphosen, Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Mahler’s Adagietto from Symphony No. 5, has been praised as “brilliant” (Oregon Music News), and allmusic.com advised, “For those who like orchestral music for strings that takes nothing less than revelation as its goal, this is a must-have.”


Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg’s professional career began in 1981 when she won the Walter W. Naumburg International Violin Competition. In 1983 she was recognized with an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and in 1999, she was honored with the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize. Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was born in Rome and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight to study at The Curtis Institute of Music. She later studied with Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School. For more information on Nadja, please visit www.nadjasalernosonnenberg.com and www.nssmusic.com.



New Century Chamber Orchestra / Matthew Washburn

Maria Valdes / Chris Fain

Efraín Solís / Carlin Ma

Thomas Glenn / Laura Bunker


Press and Media Relations Contact: 

Karen Ames Communications

Karen Ames and Brenden Guy

(415) 641-7474



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