UH Moores Opera Center Enters 2016 with ‘La Rondine,’ ‘Così Fan Tutte'

Classics by Puccini, Mozart Performed Jan. 28 – Feb. 1

What better way to greet the New Year than with a pair of opera classics? The University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center will ring in 2016 with musical masterpieces from Puccini and Mozart.

Puccini’s “La Rondine” and Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” will kick off UH’s 30th year of delivering opera to Houstonians. Performances run Jan. 28 – Feb. 1 in the Moores Opera House (Entrance 16 off Cullen Boulevard). Dates and show times are as follows:

  • “La Rondine” – 7:30 p.m., Jan. 28, 30, 31
  • “Così Fan Tutte” – 7:30 p.m., Jan. 29, Feb. 1; 2 p.m., Jan. 31

Tickets are $12 and $20 and can be purchased from the Moores Opera Center website or by calling 713-743-3313.

In “La Rondine,” courtesan Magda discovers that even she is not immune to the pleasures of romance. After falling into the arms of dashing suitor Ruggero, she tries to escape her past. Audiences will follow the lovestruck pair through 1920s jazz age Paris to the glamorous French Riviera and find out if love really conquers all.

Alternating cast members in “La Rondine” include Molly Mustonen and Lisa Borik as Magda; Mark Thomas and Zach Averyt as Ruggero; Sydney Anderson and Caroline Geenen as Lisette, and Patrick Robertson and Alex Sheerin as Prunier. The opera will be performed in Italian with English surtitles.

Puccini premiered “La Rondine” in 1917 in Monte Carlo. The opera continues to be produced by companies around the world including a 2008 version by The Met and a 2012 production by the Des Moines Metro Opera. The Moores Opera Center first performed “La Rondine” in 1999. This will be the opera’s second performance on campus.

It’s been nearly a decade since the Moores Opera Center performed “Così Fan Tutte.” Mozart’s musical comedy follows military officers Ferrando and Guglielmo who are both devoted to their fiancées. When colleague Don Alfonso suggests they test their future wives, the two friends don disguises and try to woo their lovers. Confusion and comedy abound, as the two officers (and their would-be spouses) find themselves in quite a predicament.

Mozart’s opera debuted in 1790 in Vienna. It arrived in the U.S. in the early 1920s and continues to be one of the most performed works around the world. The Moores Opera Center first presented “Così Fan Tutte” in 2007. For its second campus performance, the opera will be set in the Regency period.

Performed in Italian with English surtitles, the opera’s alternating cast includes Benjamin Williams and Michael Kollmorgren as Ferrando; Andrew Gilstrap and Royce Strider as Guglielmo; Kaylie Kahich and Emily Kern as Fiordiligi; Octavio Moreno as Don Alfonso; Raphaella Medina and Jessica Blau as Dorabella, and Anna Montgomery and Danielle Wojcik as Despina.

Founded in 1986, the award-winning Moores Opera Center produces four operas each year in the University’s Moores Opera House. Productions include a mix of classics, contemporary works and city premieres. Among the Moores Opera Center’s Houston premieres are Nino Rota’s “The Italian Straw Hat,” Daron Hagen’s “Amelia,” Daniel Catán’s “Il Postino,” Robert Aldridge's “Elmer Gantry,” Ricky Ian Gordon’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” Sergei Prokofiev's “The Love for Three Oranges,” Carl Maria von Weber's “Der Freischütz,” Samuel Barber's “Vanessa,” Jules Massenet's “Chérubin,” Gioachino Rossini's “Il viaggio a Reims,” and Kurt Weill's “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.” Professional recordings include the center's productions of Dominick Argento’s “Casanova's Homecoming” and a DVD release of Robert Nelson’s “A Room With a View.” For the past five years, the center has earned honors from the National Opera Association including a first place prize for its 2015 performance of “Rappaccini’s Daughter.”