Opera Institute to Present Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco

in Arts, College of Fine Arts, News Releases
January 24th, 2000

Contact: Judith Sandler, 617-353-8783 | jusandle@bu.edu

(Boston, Mass.) — The Boston University Opera Institute and Chamber Orchestra will present the first mainstage production of the 1999-2000 season, a double-bill of two one-act operas—Giacomo Puccini’s hilarious Gianni Schicchi and Dominick Argento’s mysterious Postcard from Morocco. Directed by Gary Briggle and conducted by William Lumpkin, the operas will be performed Thursday, February 10, through Saturday, February 12, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 13, at 5 p.m. at the Boston University Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue.

Stage director Gary Briggle will discuss the opera productions one hour before the operas begin. The free lecture/discussion will take place in the Boston University Theatre February 10 through February 12 at 7 p.m. and February 13 at 4 p.m.

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, first performed by the Metropolitan Opera in 1918, is the last of the one-act operas that form the Il Trittico trilogy, along with Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica. Set in 13th century Florence, it is a raucous, irreverent story rife with deception, greed, and paranoia, which mocks conventions, the church, the law, and most of all, human foibles.

Postcard from Morocco, written in 1973 by Dominick Argento and librettist John Donahue, is considered by many to be one of the most important operas of the 20th century. The chamber opera was created for a cast of eight performer–including singers and mimes–each of whom is double-cast, and a seven-piece orchestra. Set in 1914, on the brink of the First World War, the opera is an enigmatic and atmospheric work, which combines an innocent playfulness with feelings of isolation in a dream-like, exotic world where puppets and mimes cavort and the palm court orchestra quotes from Wagner operas.

Stage director Gary Briggle, who directed Stephen Paulus’s The Village Singer in the Opera Institute Fringe Festival last season, recently staged Sondheim’s A Little Night Music for the National Theater of Hungary and Verdi’s Falstaff for the Sacramento Opera. Projects at other universities and conservatories include Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory and Gianni Schicchi and Suor Angelica at Valparaiso University.

From 1995 through 1998, Briggle was artistic director of Lyric Opera Cleveland, where he had also performed and taught for fourteen years. His directing projects in Cleveland include The Medium, Postcard From Morocco, La Bohème, and Into the Woods.

Still pursuing an active career as a performer, Briggle received his Bachelor of Music in Voice and a degree in Theatre from St. Olaf College. He sang in the Studio Program in the Minnesota Opera Company for nearly a decade before becoming a freelancer with regional theatre and opera companies. He has been a member of the resident ensembles of The Arizona Theater Company, Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, and Florida Repertory. This spring, Briggle will direct Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All at St. Olaf College for its 125th anniversary.

William Lumpkin, assistant professor of music at the Boston University School for the Arts, received his Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music and holds graduate degrees in Conducting and Collaborative Piano from the University of California at Santa Barbara and the University of Southern California. He has appeared as conductor with the UCLA Opera Workshop, USC Opera, and with the UCSB Orchestra. Lumpkin served on the faculties of UCLA, USC and on the professional staff at Oberlin College, where he was coach and assistant conductor for Oberlin Opera Theater.

Admission for the Boston University Opera Institute and Chamber Orchestra production of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco is $10 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For further information, call the Box Office at 617/266-0800, or the events line at 617/353-3349, or log onto the home page at http://www.bu.edu/cfa.

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