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New York City Opera Presents Lucia di Lammermoor – NYCO’s Final Summer 2022 Show at Bryant Park Picnic Performances
New York City Opera will present an abridged version of Donizetti’s classic Lucia di Lammermoor on Friday, September 2, 2022 at 7pm as part of Bryant Park Picnic Performances presented by Bank of America. Think Romeo and Juliet but set in Scotland. Donizetti’s brilliant score is the height of drama and the pinnacle of the Bel Canto style in this abridged version starring world-renowned soprano Sarah Coburn, the captivating tenor WooYoung Yoon, and the legendary bass-baritone Mark Delavan. It is directed by Shayna Leahy and conducted by City Opera Music Director Maestro Constantine Orbelian, The complete cast includes Coburn (Lucia), Delavan (Enrico), Yoon (Sir Edgardo di Ravenswood), Tair Tazhigulov (Raimondo Bidebent), Elissa Pfaender (Alisa), Ziwen Xiang (Arturo), and Samuel Ng (Normanno).
Entry is on a first-come, first-served basis. Performances are designed to be enjoyed casually – no tickets required – with ample seating available and free picnic blankets for audience members to borrow. For more information, visit bryantpark.org/picnics.
The performance is approximately one hour and thirty minutes with one intermission.
Attendees may bring their own food or purchase from on-site food and beverage vendors near the Lawn. At most performances, attendees can purchase food from a rotating line-up of local NYC vendors curated by Hester Street Fair. COVID-19 vaccinations and masks are not currently required but Bryant Park will continue to monitor and follow updated New York City and New York State COVID-19 guidelines throughout the summer as necessary.
For anyone unable to attend in person, a free livestream broadcast of the performance will be available nationwide via Bryant Park’s website and social media platforms.
New York City Opera was famously dubbed “The People’s Opera” by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at its founding in 1943. More than 75 years later, City Opera continues its historic mission to inspire audiences with innovative and theatrically compelling opera, nurture the work of promising American artists, and build new audiences through affordable ticket prices and extensive outreach and education programs. Picnic Performances continues the tradition of opera in Bryant Park.
The 2022 Picnic Performances season is possible due to the generous support of Bank of America. “Bank of America is a long-standing supporter of the arts because we believe that a thriving arts and cultural community benefits both society and the economy,” said José Tavarez, President, Bank of America New York City. “So we are thrilled to once again sponsor Picnic Performances and combine our commitment to the arts with our partnership with Bryant Park. Together we’re helping New York City’s iconic cultural scene to thrive, while promoting green spaces and providing free access to live New York City music, dance and theater.”
About the Artists
American soprano Sarah Coburn is captivating international audiences with her “precision placement, mercury speed, and a gorgeous liquid gold tone, gilded by a thrilling top and bottom register” (The Globe and Mail). Following her performances as Lucie de Lammermoor at Glimmerglass Opera, the New York Observer noted “she turns out to have qualities that have made legends out of so many of her predecessors, from Adelina Patti to Maria Callas: stage charisma, a thrilling upper register and, crucially, a fearlessness about abandoning herself to opera’s most abandoned heroine … this is a palpably exciting voice … Ms. Coburn is a budding prima donna of exceptional promise.”
Ms. Coburn created the role of Kitty in the world premiere of Anna Karenina at Florida Grand Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She has sung Adele in Die Fledermaus with both Seattle Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Florida Grand Opera, and Cincinnati Opera, Olympia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier with Cincinnati Opera, Norina in Don Pasquale, Sandrina in La finta giardiniera and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Florida Grand Opera.
Ms. Coburn has appeared in concert with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow Philharmonic, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Russian National Orchestra, Copenhagen Philharmonic at the Tivoli Festival, and the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra; and Handel & Haydn Society as soloist for Elijah and Messiah. She has also sung Messiah with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra; Carmina Burana with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Dallas Wind Symphony; and has joined the Seattle Symphony for Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Bach’s Mass in B Minor.
Ms. Coburn has appeared in concert with Bryn Terfel with Florida Grand Opera, as well as in a duo-recital for the United States Supreme Court; in recital with Lawrence Brownlee for the Vocal Arts Society, with Los Angeles Opera and the Mark Morris Dance Group in Handel’s and in recital at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Ms. Coburn has received awards from the George London Foundation, the Richard Tucker Foundation, the Jensen Foundation, the Liederkranz Foundation, Opera Index, and was a National Grand Finalist in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Mark Delavan, a singer of “incisive vocal power and fierce theatrical acuity,” is sought after throughout the United States and Europe for the most demanding roles in his operatic repertoire. He regularly appears in the title roles of Der fliegende Holländer, Falstaff, and Rigoletto, and as Iago in Otello, Scarpia in Tosca, Jochanaan in Salome, and Amonasro in Aida. In addition, as a strong character actor on stages throughout the country, he has proved himself a crossover artist of immense skill, starring as Phil Arkin in Milk and Honey with York Theatre Company, to critical acclaim. This season, Delavan returns to Maryland Lyric Opera for the title role in Falstaff, and the Dallas Opera as Father in Hansel and Gretel. He will also return to Dallas Symphony in 2024 as Wotan in their concert performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Shayna Leahy (Director) returns to New York City Opera this season, having previously directed the 2018 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia in Bryant Park. Her work has also been seen at Wichita Grand Opera, including productions of Carmen, Madama Butterfly, Turandot, Otello, Il Trovatore, and Aida. Her productions are hailed as being “deeply felt, and deeply moving” with emphasis on “fine acting as well as strong singing” (Wichita Eagle). She has also served as Assistant Director of Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance Program in New York, as faculty for the Opera Academy of the Midwest, and is currently the Artistic Administrator for Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and Director of Vocal Studies at Highland Community College, where she has led a nationally recognized opera education initiative in collaboration with Wichita Grand Opera.
Samuel Ng has been pursuing his passion for opera since his high school days. He has performed roles such as Le Petit Vieilliard in L’enfant et les sortileges (Ravel), First Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) and Le Doyen in Cendrillon (Massenet). He also sang as Stephen in Laksa Cantata from The Singapore Trilogy (Chen Zhangyi) and the Frog Prince in Three Feathers (Lori Laitman) with L’arietta Singapore, and more recently as Jacquino in Beethoven’s Fidelio (abridged) and Don Ottavio for sceneworks. He is currently studying with Arthur Levy as a 1st year Masters student at Mannes School of Music.
Born in San Francisco to Russian and Armenian émigrés parents, Constantine Oberlian (Conductor and Music Director) made his debut as a piano prodigy with the San Francisco Symphony at the age of 11. After graduating from The Juilliard School, he embarked on a career as a piano virtuoso that included appearances with major symphony orchestras throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Russia.
Mr. Oberlian has been a central figure in Russian and Eastern European musical life – as Music Director of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia of Russia, as well as founder of the annual Palaces of St. Petersburg International Music Festival, as Chief Conductor of the Kaunas City Symphony Orchestra in Lithuania, and as Artistic Director of the State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Yerevan, Armenia. He is the first American to become music director of an ensemble in Russia and, in recognition of his efforts championing Russian-American cultural exchange, was awarded the coveted title “Honored Artist of Russia” in 2004. In 2012 the Russian Consulate in San Francisco awarded the maestro the Russian Order of Friendship Medal, honoring his efforts to the betterment of international relations between the U.S and the Russian Federation, joining the likes of Van Cliburn and Riccardo Muti in being so honored.
The California-based conductor tours and records with American stars such as Sondra Radvanovsky and Lawrence Brownlee. Among his concert and televised appearances are collaborations with Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Anna Netrebko and Mr. Cliburn, including the legendary pianist’s farewell performance in a sentimental return to Moscow. Mr. Oberlian’s recordings include a series of celebrated releases on the Delos label with Mr. Hvorostovsky, before the great singer’s untimely death.
In 2001, Constantine Oberlian was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an award given to immigrants, or children of immigrants, who have made an outstanding contribution to the United States.
Praised as an artist who “exudes power in every detail of her body language and voice,” mezzo-soprano Elissa Pfaender is a dynamic artist whose experience allows her to successfully perform a variety of repertoire. This upcoming summer, Ms. Pfaender will be a Gerdine Young Artist with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, debuting the role of Dr. Landau in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings, as well as covering Third Lady (The Magic Flute). Ms. Pfaender has also performed with New York City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Savannah Voice Festival, Manchester Music Festival, the National Endowment for the Arts YoungArts Foundation and more. During her time as an Apprentice Artist with Sarasota Opera for their 60th Anniversary Season, Ms. Pfaender was awarded the prestigious “Anne J. O’Donnell Outstanding Apprentice Artist Award” by the Sarasota Opera Guild for her talent, skills and musicianship. Equally at home with concert work, she has performed as a soloist for Bach’s Magnificat and Schubert’s Mass in G with orchestra. She has received awards and honors from the NEA YoungArts Foundation, the National Opera Association, the Houston Saengerbund, Riverside Opera Company, Tuesday Musical Association, Chicago Classical NATS, and New Jersey Classical NATS.
Tenor Ziwen Xiang’s voice has been described as possessing a remarkably sweet, spinning, warm tone, ideal for the lyric stage. His 2021-22 season began with a concert of Opera Favorites around the U.S. This season, he will also debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with the Mid-Atlantic Orchestra and Seton Hall University, perform the Bach Magnificat and Vivaldi Gloria RV588 with the Taghkanic Chorale in NY, and in January debut as Ferrando in Cosi fan tutte at Grand Rapids Opera. Last season witnessed Xiang’s film debut as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme, produced by More Than Music Ltd of Hong Kong and his debut with the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice as Beppe in Pagliacci. Further, in August he was proud to sing the Star Spangled Banner for a N.Y. Mets game. Ziwen made his New York City Opera debut in their world premiere of Stonewall, by Ian Bell and Mark Campbell and his debut with the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Members Lecture Performances” he sang Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. The season also witnessed tenor Xiang as featured soloist with the Sino U.S. Artist Association, and at New York’s Opera America as the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Korean tenor WooYoung Yoon recently made his role debut in Berlioz’s Le Damnation de Faust with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica with Maestro John Nelson. Recently he also debuted as Tonio (The Daughter of the Regiment) in the Merola Grand Finale on the stage of San Francisco Opera. In the spring of 2019 he returned to San Francisco Opera for a recital in the Schwabacher Recital Series. His debut at Stern Auditorium in Carnegie Hall performing Mozart’s Regina Coeli with Mid America Productions will be made in the summer of 2022. This season WooYoung performs Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with Knoxville Opera, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Lubbock Symphony, and returns to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica for Christus am Oelberg with Maestro John Nelson. Mr. Yoon has distinguished himself in a variety of major competitions, most recently as the 2019 Orpheus Competition Grand Prize winner.
Michael Capasso is the General Director of the New York City Opera. He has produced, directed, and toured opera and musical theater productions in the U.S. and abroad for over 30 years. In June of 2014, he led the successful effort to bring the New York City Opera out of bankruptcy. The revitalized New York City Opera re- turned to the stage in January 2016 with a celebratory production of Tosca. In 1981, he, along with Diane Martindale, founded New York”s Dicapo Opera Theatre. Over the 30 years of his leadership, Dicapo Opera Theater presented a diverse program- ming to the New York public. In addition to his work with the Dicapo Opera Theatre, Mr. Capasso has directed operas at l’Opéra de Montréal; Mallorca Opera; Toledo Opera; Connecticut Opera; New Jersey State Opera; Opera Carolina; and Orlando Opera among others. Mr. Capasso founded the National Lyric Opera in 1991, a tour- ing company that has brought fully staged operas to communities in the American Northeast.
About New York City Opera
Since its founding in 1943 by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia as “The People’s Opera,” New York City Opera (NYCO) has been a critical part of the city’s cultural life. During its history, New York City Opera has launched the careers of dozens of major artists and presented engaging productions of both mainstream and unusual operas alongside commissions and regional premieres. The result is a uniquely American opera company of international stature.
For more than seven decades, New York City Opera has maintained a distinct identity, adhering to its unique mission: affordable ticket prices, a devotion to American works, English-language performances, the promotion of up-and-coming American singers, and seasons of accessible, vibrant and compelling productions intended to introduce new audiences to the art form. Stars who launched their careers at New York City Opera include Plácido Domingo, Catherine Malfitano, Sherrill Milnes, Samuel Ramey, Beverly Sills, Tatiana Troyanos, Carol Vaness, and Shirley Verrett, among dozens of other great artists. New York City Opera has a long history of inclusion and diversity. It was the first major opera company to feature Black singers in leading roles (Todd Duncan as Tonio in Pagliacci, 1945; Camilla Williams in the title role of Madama Butterfly, 1946); the first to produce a new work by a Black composer (William Grant Still, Troubled Island, 1949); and the first to have a Black conductor lead its orchestra (Everett Lee, La traviata, 1955).
A revitalized City Opera re-opened in January 2016 with Tosca, the opera that originally launched the company in 1944. Outstanding productions during the four years since then include: the world premiere of Iain Bell and Mark Campbell’s Stonewall, which NYCO commissioned and developed; legendary director Harold Prince’s new production of Bernstein’s Candide; Puccini’s beloved La fanciulla del West; and the New York premiere of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas — the first in its Ópera en Español series. Subsequent Ópera en Español productions include the New York premiere of the world’s first mariachi opera, José “Pepe” Martinez’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Literes’s Los Elementos, and Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires. In addition to the world premiere of Stonewall, the productions in NYCO’s Pride Initiative, which produces an LGBTQ-themed work each June during Pride Month, include the New York premiere of Péter Eötvös’s Angels in America and the American premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s Brokeback Mountain. New York City Opera has presented such talents as Anna Caterina Antonacci and Aprile Millo in concert, as well as its own 75th Anniversary Concert in Bryant Park, one in a series of many concerts and staged productions that it presents each year as part of the Park’s summer picnic series. City Opera’s acclaimed summer series in Bryant Park brings free performances to thousands of New Yorkers and visitors every year. New York City Opera continues its legacy with main stage performances at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater and with revitalized outreach and education programs at venues throughout the city, designed to welcome and inspire a new generation of opera audiences.
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About Bryant Park
Bryant Park Corporation (BPC), a private not-for-profit company, was founded in 1980 to renovate, finance and operate Bryant Park in New York City. BPC is funded by income from events, concessions, and corporate sponsors, as well as an assessment on neighboring properties, and does not accept government or philanthropic monies. In addition to providing security, sanitation, and horticultural services, BPC offers restaurants, food kiosks, world-class restrooms, and a wide range of free events throughout the year. The Midtown Manhattan park is visited by more than 12 million people each year and is one of the busiest public spaces in the world. BPC’s website, bryantpark.org, offers more detailed information and a schedule of upcoming events.