Arts and Entertainment

Seattle Opera’s Young Artists return to Bellevue's Meydenbauer Theatre

Seattle Opera’s 2009/10 Young Artists Program returns to Bellevue’s Theatre at Meydenbauer Center in April with Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. It will feature nine Seattle Opera Young Artists and seven Guest Artists in an all-new, fully staged production.

Ariadne runs for four performances: April 1, 3, 9, and 11.

In Ariadne auf Naxos, high art and lowbrow antics collide when a rich patron — who has scheduled a fireworks display at promptly 9 p.m. — asks for the impossible: for a capering troupe of comedians to combine their performance with an opera company’s meditation on the mythical love and loss of the ancient Greek princess Ariadne. As the diverse groups struggle to integrate their art into one production, they also discover some surprising revelations about the nature of music.

The intimate nature of the 400-seat Theatre at Meydenbauer Center allows audiences to experience this opera — and its exciting young cast — in a way not possible in conventional opera houses.

Ariadne offers challenges for a Young Artists program. Zerbinetta’s famous aria, “Grossmächtige Prinzessin,” is considered one of the most challenging and show-stopping arias ever written for the coloratura voice. Soprano Megan Hart, who sang Tytania in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with last season’s Young Artists Program, stars as Zerbinetta in this production.

Soprano Vira Slywotzky, Helena in last year’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Inez in Seattle Opera’s recent mainstage production of Il Trovatore, takes on the role of the idealistic young Composer and sings the great hymn to music that closes Ariadne’s first half.

The roles of Ariadne and Bacchus, on the other hand, require voices of near-Wagnerian heroism. Young Artist Marcy Stonikas and Guest Artist Gregory Carroll will perform these roles.

Michael Devlin, a bass-baritone who has performed at the Metropolitan Opera for the past 25 years, makes an appearance as the Major-Domo, a role he recently performed with that company.

More than 600 singers applied for the 2009/10 season of Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program. The program is geared toward singers who have recently completed their college training and are embarking on professional singing careers.

The Young Artists performing in Ariadne auf Naxos are bass Erik Anstine, mezzo-soprano Jenni Bank, soprano Megan Hart, baritone Michael Krzankowski, tenor Alex Mansoori, baritone Eric Neuville, soprano Vira Slywotzky, soprano Marcy Stonikas, and tenor Bray Wilkins. They are joined by Guest Artists Gregory Carroll, Michael Devlin, Michael Dunlap, Jennifer Edwards, Joanna Foote, Glenn Guhr, and Stephanos Tsirakoglou.

Tickets for Ariadne auf Naxos are $35 for adults and $15 for students, and can be purchased online at seattleopera.org/ariadne, by calling the box office at 206-389-7676 or by mobile phone at mobile.seattleopera.org.

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