The Fourth of July in January? An evening of debuts and fireworks (of the vocal kind) is in store when Opera Northeast makes its NYC debut with Rossini's Elisabetta Regina D'Inghilterra (Elizabeth, Queen of England), Jan. 13 at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse.
The opera, which is being heard for the first time in NY, also marks the NY debuts of soprano Claudia Waite -- who has already caused quite a stir at the San Francisco Opera and in a production of Love for Three Oranges with Opera de Lyon -- as Queen Elizabeth, and conductor John Burrows -- a native of England who conducted musicals and operas on the West End and at Royal Albert Hall, and whose American credits include a stint as artistic director of Lyric Opera of Dallas.
Opera Northeast is under the artistic direction of Donald Westwood; the troupe has been hailed by Opera News as "a dynamic alternative to the giants at Lincoln Center."
Elisabetta, first produced at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples in 1815, dramatizes a major turning point in the life of Queen Elizabeth I.
Although it was popular in Europe throughout the 19th century, the feelings were not mutual in the United States -- Americans in the post-revolutionary era were not at all keen to mount a theatrical production that praised an English monarch (in sharp contrast to today's Royal-mania). The opera is full of the tour-de-force arias, duets, and ensembles for which Rossini is known -- and the diehard opera fan is even likely to recognize the overture (which was used with a somewhat different orchestration for Rossini's most famous opera, The Barber of Seville).
The cast also includes soprano Diana Spina and tenor Brian S. Hunt in their NY debuts.
The opera is at 7:30 PM at the Kaye Playhouse, E. 68th St. between Park and Lexington Ave. For tickets, call (212) 472-2168.
-- By Rebecca Paller