Savannah VOICE Festival to Present Two Treasured Operas

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

The Savannah VOICE Festival – always a dynamic annual celebration of opera music and vocal arts – is pulling out all the stops for its fifth anniversary celebration. Formerly a two-week event, the festival will now span three weeks to increase and diversify its traditional offerings of concerts, master classes, social events and showcases. With all the traditional offerings of past years, the Savannah VOICE Festival continues to establish itself as the opera company of the Southeast region and it is fittingly offering two of the world’s most treasured and entertaining pieces – Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville).  

This year's special theme, “Funny@Five” includes a lighthearted introductory show to the operas which Executive Director Maria Zouves has written entitled "Shave and a Haircut, Rossini takes a nap". The 90-minute program tells the story of the Barber of Seville told through music from Rossini and Mozart as well as modern musical theater and song. The show’s storyline follows Rossini himself (played by opera great and SVF founder Sherrill Milnes himself) as he falls asleep in the Barber’s chair and is transported into the world of the clever Figaro. The show is at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5 at Asbury Memorial Theatre, 1008 Henry St. in downtown Savannah and tickets are $52 each.

“Our two comedic operas for 2017 are time-tested crowd favorites, sure to leave audiences highly amused, but even humorous operas with English translations above the stage can be intimidating to those who’ve never enjoyed this vocal art form before,” said Zouves, an operatic soprano who co-founded the festival with her husband, internationally acclaimed baritone Sherrill Milnes. “‘Shave and a Haircut’ is a lighthearted, easy introduction into our two big shows – really a delightful way to learn more about opera in general and fun for all ages!”

The season’s first opera, Le Nozzi di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), is the festival’s second annual VOICE Studio Program production. It serves as an excellent training and exposure opportunity for rising vocal stars ready to showcase the skills they’ve been honing during the program. This summer development intensive, led by opera legend and SVF co-founder Sherrill Milnes, focuses on personal training designed to take participants to the next level of their careers.

The VOICE Studio artists who auditioned for and won coveted roles and covers in Le Nozzi di Figaro will perform Mozart’s masterpiece about the day in the life of the famous “factotum.” Before audiences see the Savannah VOICE Festival’s second opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, they’ll skip to the second part of the story as Count Almaviva, Rosina and the Barber fast forward to the “crazy day” of Figaro and Susanna’s wedding. The studio production will be sung in Italian with English dialogue and supertitles.

Tickets cost $42 each, and the curtain rises at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18 at the Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E. Broad St. in downtown Savannah. The performance is sponsored by Arlene and Allan Ratner.

In its second opera of the 2017 season, Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), the SVF reunites some of our favorite festival artists who have been cast to take us on a delightful journey into Beaumarchais first comedic installation of the Barber Trilogy. The famous barber is scheming and dealing in this masterpiece as Rosina and Almaviva need the Figaro’s expertise to be together, despite Bartolo’s plot to keep her for himself. Written 30 years after Mozart’s telling of part two, this “prequel” to The Marriage of Figaro goes back in time to where it all began. This dynamic production will draw audience into the action with virtual sets and a chamber ensemble. It will be sung in Italian with English dialogue and supertitles.

The first showing of “Barber” is slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Charles H. Morris Center. At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, SVF fans who missed the first performance will have a second opportunity to catch the classic comedic opera. The humorous tale will again unfold within the confines of the elegant Morris Center with amazing virtual design sets and traditional costumes. The performances are sponsored by Helen Downing. Tickets for both shows are priced at $62 each. Children 16 and under, Student and Military tickets will be sold for $15 at the door, 30 minutes prior to show time with proper ID.

“In our fifth anniversary season, the Savannah VOICE Festival is excited to offer our longstanding fans and new friends some amazing performances and concerts. These operas really complete and complement the carefully curated set of shows we’ve put together,” Zouves said. “To feature some of the vocal world’s most skilled rising stars amid advanced, multifaceted productions in this beautiful, hospitable city is really incredible. The two comedic operas are the perfect way to showcase the level of talent our artists possess while drawing audiences in to some highly amusing and entertaining storylines.”