Here are two terrific previews of the second NEMPAC Opera Project production, going up at Faneuil Hall Thursday,6/27 and Friday,6/28! article:

– see the link for a video preview!

North End Music and Performing Arts Center to Mount ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ at Faneuil Hall:

After a successful production last summer of Georges Bizet’s “Carmen,” the North End Music and Performing Arts Center is preparing to mount its second opera this Thursday and Friday, with an outdoor community outreach performance on Sunday at Christopher Columbus Park.

A live orchestra and a troupe of singers, several of them NEMPAC instructors, will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 1790 opera buffa “Così fan tutte” as the center moves its production for the first time to Faneuil Hall.

“This opera is a model of the offerings that we provide,” said Sherri Snow, executive director of NEMPAC.

Snow said the production highlights the center’s music programs, musical theater program, Italian language offerings, and efforts to bring the arts to residents of the North End and all over Boston.

“I think putting the Italian language with the music and the theater are three really strong components of what we offer,” Snow said.

Rebecca Rapoport-Cole, artistic director for the production, said it was a high priority for the center to provide opportunities for performers and audiences to have access to opera and other performing arts in the heart of the city.

“It was very important with us to start an opera project that we could keep urban,” she said. “We really wanted to keep it local and accessible.”

The opera, which will be sung in Italian with English supertitles, tells the story of an old philosopher who makes a wager with two soldiers that he can prove their fiancées are fickle in their affections, as he believes all women to be.

To test the women, the soldiers say they have been called away to war and then return in disguise to attempt to woo them.

“There’s a lot of drama,” Rapoport-Cole said.

In this production, the philosopher is played by RaShaun Campbell; the soldiers are Joshua May and Patrick McGill; and the women are Kathryn McKellar and Carrie Reid-Knox.

Rapoport-Cole explained that the ending of the opera can be interpreted differently by different directors.

“To find out our director Brent Wilson’s interpretation, come out and see the show,” she said.

Wilson, the stage director for this production, collaborated with conductor Tiffany Chang and diction coach Pamela Dellal.

“Così fan tutte” will be performed in the Great Hall at Faneuil Hall on Thursday, June 27, at 7:30 p.m., and Friday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $25, with student tickets available for $20 and VIP balcony seats at $40.

A free outdoor production will take place at Christopher Columbus Park on Sunday, June 30, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. For more information,


The Boston Musical Intelligencer:

Cosi fan tutte Surprises Faneuil Hall

by Joseph E. Morgan

Dorabella costume sketchDorabella costume sketch

On Thursday and Friday the North End Music & Performing Arts Center Opera Project (NEMPAC)  presents a staged production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte in Faneuil Hall, given in Italian with English supertitles. The Opera Project was founded in the spring of 2012 by two NEMPAC instructors, staff members, and trained Opera Singers, Sherri Snow and Rebecca Rapoport-Cole. As part of their continuing effort to “challenge the boundaries of what a theater has to be by using exclusively non-traditional spaces,” they presented Bizet’s Carmen  in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Boston last year, and this year the practice continues with a Faneuil Hall production. In preparation for this article, I asked Rapoport-Cole for some revelations on this year’s production. Her response contained wonderfully interesting notes from various members of the artistic team that provide an excellent insight to the production. Much of those notes are excerpted here:

Concerning the staging and direction, in the 1940s, U.S.A., the production’s director, Brent Wilson, states:

“Regarding the 1940s Cosi fan tutte, I felt as if the story translated well at a time when Film Noir was a popular cinematic expression in Hollywood. The boys go off to war, and in this case we assume its World War II, and come back as stylish tycoons from the resort town of Palm Springs, which was/is a popular destination for Los Angelinos. As the ladies are persuaded by their new suitors, we introduce elements of color into their wardrobe, much like how Dorothy’s world is turned upside down when we go to color in the Wizard of Oz.

Despina costume sketchDespina costume sketch

This decade was also an incredibly important one for woman’s rights. Women are allowed to serve in the US Navy and as the war progresses, the percentage of women in the civilian workforce increases dramatically. The reason I speak about women’s rights is because throughout this opera, there is a power struggle between man and woman. There also are the normal miscommunications between the sexes.

It translates as a chess game for Don Alfonso and Despina, while Fiordiligi, Dorabella, Ferrando, and Guglielmo are their pawns. The ending can be interpreted in many ways, but until the last beat, we never know what these characters will ultimately choose.  We can apply it to our own relationships; do we follow logic, or do we follow our heart?”

As can be seen by the costume sketches, costume designer Norma Heller shared Wilson’s Noir inspiration, inspiring her in her effort to “…place these characters into the time period with rich backgrounds and identities. I saw Despina [for example] as a working class woman taking part in the war effort and showing her patriotism through her utilitarian style.”

However, the costumes also structurally contribute to the dramatic expression; the lovers “…are paired off visually particularly through the colors they wear and a similar cut of their clothing. Fioridiligi, for example, wears a bolero that mirrors her Ferrando’s vest.”

When asked for highlights of the production, conductor Tiffany Chang confidently put her Fiordiligi sopranos, Lindsay Conrad (Thursday) and Kathryn McKellar (Friday), on the spot, replying that “Musical highlights include: the large ensemble numbers, and the Fiordiligi arias, and of course, the finales.” The orchestra will number 35.

Finally, when asked about Faneuil Hall, Rapoport-Cole thinks the location is an apt expression of the project’s unique identity: “So often, smaller start up projects like ours have to take opera outside of Boston in order to find affordable performance venues; we have gone the opposite direction and have sought to challenge the boundaries of what a theatre space “has” to be by using exclusively non-traditional spaces. Last year, we took the provocative work of Bizet’s Carmen to St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown Boston, and also provided a community outreach performance at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. This year, we wanted to use a space close to the North End, our primary community, as well as a space that was special and unique to Boston. As such, the Faneuil Hall idea was born!”

Fiordiligi costume sketchFiordiligi costume sketch

And yet, one might note that in Faneuil Hall a production of Cosi is almost historically appropriate. Built by merchant Peter Faneuil in 1742, during the British occupation of Boston from 1775-6, the Hall was used as a theater, 15 years before Mozart composed his Italian opera buffa. Of course Cosi fan tutte was not performed in the U.S. until the 20th century (premiered at the Met in 1922), but if it were to have had an 18th-century performance in Boston, why not at Faneuil Hall?

The production, running with two casts, will be repeated with an entirely different cast on Friday, June 28th and an outdoor community outreach performance will take place on June 30th at 4:00 p.m. in the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park.

Cast Thursday/Sunday Friday
Fiordiligi Lindsay Conrad Kathryn McKellar
Dorabella Caitlin Felsman Carrie Reid-Knox
Despina Bethany Worrell Katelyn Parker-Bray
Ferrando Jason Connell Joshua May
Guglielmo Tyler Wolowicz Patrick McGill
DonAlfonso Seth Grondin RaShaun Campbell

Last year’s outreach performance of Carmen (Acts 1 & 2) can be seen and heard here.

Tickets from $40 – $25 may be purchased here

Joseph E. Morgan is a PhD graduate of Brandeis University, where he studied early German romantic opera. He lives and teaches in the Boston area.