The opening concert of the season for the Orchestra of Northern New York will feature selections of adventure, humor, love and drama with the opera-heavy program appropriately premiering at an opera house.
“Bravo Bravo!: Great Music From the Stage” opens the orchestra’s 32nd year at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Clayton Opera House and at 3 p.m. Sunday at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall.
Kenneth B. Andrews, music director/conductor and founder of the orchestra, has spent a good part of his summer on the program.
“It’s been monumental because it involves so many moving parts,” he said.
The highlight of “Bravo Bravo!” is six soloists from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music: Margaret Chalker, Colleen Skull and Deborah Massell, all sopranos; Lorraine Yaros Sullivan, mezzo-soprano; Nicholas Kilkenny, bass-baritone and Donald George, tenor.
Mr. Andrews will lead the 60-piece professional orchestra in works by Gioachino Rossini, Guiseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, W. A. Mozart, Richard Wagner, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and other composers.
Together, there are 10 arias, songs and duets. Each soloist does a solo aria.
“It took him quite a while to put this program together, especially with six singers,” Mr. George said. “The planning was quite extensive.”
Mr. George, in a phone interview from his seasonal home in Germany, said that Mr. Andrews asked the soloists their ideas for the program.
“We sent in lists, and he talked to each of us individually,” he said.
“It took a lot of behind-the-scenes acting; trying to get it all to fit together and on top of that, you have to figure out how the program is going to shape out so that it’s a nice flow,” Mr. Andrews said.
One of the highlights for Mr. George is “At the Back of the Holy Temple” from act one of George Bizet’s 1863 opera, “The Pearl Fishers.” Mr. George sings the duet with Mr. Kilkenny.
“We both fall in love with the same woman and she’s a high priestess in the village where we’re both pearl fishers,” Mr. George said. “Even though we’re both in love with her, we swear eternal friendship. It doesn’t quite work out that way, but there’s always good intentions in every opera.”
Mr. George will relate more drama with an aria from Puccini’s 1900 opera, “Tosca.”
“He’s going to be executed,” Mr. George said of his character. “He’s about to be shot and they’ve given him a few minutes to be alone to think about something. He looks at the stars and thinks that’s the last time he’s going to see them.”
But the overall tone of the concert is far from such despair.
“There’s a lot of very positive, very beautiful stuff,” Mr. George said, such as a selection from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”
To supplement the opera tunes, Mr. Andrews has selected a song from the Broadway musical “Carousel” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Ms. Skull will sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
The concert will conclude with a selection from Jaques Offenbach’s 1858 comic opera, “Orpheus in the Underworld.” The “Infernal Gallop” is better known as the “famous can-can.”
n n n
With its six concerts, the theme for the orchestra’s 32nd season is “Experience the Passion of Live Music.”
“There’s something for everybody in this year’s season,” Mr. Andrews said. “We try to play to all the tastes of our listeners, which is quite eclectic in the north country.”
In addition to next weekend’s “Bravo Bravo!” concert, the season lineup:
n “Marking the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven.”
Oct. 19 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall and Oct. 20 at Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church.
Featured will be the composer’s “Pastorale” symphony and Piano Concerto No. 1 featuring Young-Ah Tak.
n “Holiday Joy!”
Dec. 13 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall, Dec. 14 at Massena High School auditorium and Dec. 15 at Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church.
The concert will feature the Festival Holiday Chorus comprised of students from area high schools and soloist Lonel Woods.
n “Baroque and Beyond.”
The orchestra’s annual Baroque-era concert will be March 21 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall and March 22 at Watertown’s First Presbyterian Church.
n “Star Wars”
April 18 at Sturtz Theater at Jefferson Community College and April 19 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall.
Mr. Andrews said the orchestra wanted to do something similar to its music from “Harry Potter” concert, which sold out at JCC this past spring.
n “Celebrate Freedom: Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II.”
The annual Independence Day celebration will be July 2 at Watertown’s Thompson Park and July 3 at SUNY Potsdam’s Hosmer Hall. Featured will be North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame inductee Gretchen Koehler.