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True Love Never Dies!  Dayton Opera Presents Giuseppe Verdi’s Epic, Spectacular Grand Opera Aida


CONTACT: Angela Whitehead
Interim Communications & Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Dayton Ballet / Dayton Opera / Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra
126 N. Main St., Suite 210, Dayton OH 45402
O: (937) 224-3521 x 1138  F: (937) 223-9189

DAYTON, OH (April 14, 2014) – On Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Artistic Director Thomas Bankston and the Dayton Opera are thrilled to present Giuseppe Verdi’s grandest of grand opera’s Aida. This season’s final Dayton Performing Arts Alliance “Signature Event” will feature the full forces of the Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra.  This production features eight of opera’s most exciting singing actors, Artistic Director Neal Gittleman conducting the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, dancers from the Dayton Ballet, choreographed by Artistic Director Karen Russo Burke, and monumental scenery and costumes which bring the majesty of ancient Egypt to the stage of the Schuster Center.  Dayton Opera favorite stage director Kathleen Clawson returns to Dayton Opera for this operatic masterpiece which marks her fifth appearance with the company. 

This production of Aida is being presented by The Hampden W. and Erma R. Catterton Charitable Trust Fund: Dayton Opera Association Trust Fund and The Miriam Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts.  Principal Sponsor for the production is The Harry A. Toulmin, Jr., and Virginia B. Toulmin Fund of the Dayton Foundation.  Leadership Sponsors include The Opera Guild of Dayton, The ELM Foundation, Emerson Climate Technologies, and Gosiger, Inc.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, is filled with spectacular pageantry, emotional arias, thrilling choruses and dancing, and spine-tingling orchestral music.  Juxtaposed to its grand style is the simplicity and message of its story: that the choices we make have as much – if not, indeed, more – impact on the directions our lives take than any concept of destiny might.  Set in ancient Egypt, this intense drama centers on the love triangle of captive Ethiopian princess Aida; her rival, the Egyptian princess Amneris; and Radames, the Egyptian commander they both love. Will Aida’s love for Radamès win out over her loyalty to her own father and country? The answer lies in the choices each makes.  Aida chooses Radamès over her love for her father and country.  Amneris chooses to take revenge on Aida. And as Radamès plans to escape with Aida into the desert, he betrays his country by revealing the place where his army will attack. As a result he is condemned to die in a sealed temple vault and is joined by Aida who chooses to die with her love.

The cast assembled by Dayton Opera represents some of our country’s best in singing and acting talent. The exotically beautiful soprano Indira Mahajan is a Marian Anderson Award-winner, who is in demand by opera companies, orchestras, and recital presenters worldwide. Praised for her “strongly centered, richly textured soprano” by New York Magazine and her “poignant soprano” for her moving portrayals by The New York Times, she will grace the stage of the Mead theatre as Aida, in her role debut.  This will be Indira’s fifth appearance with Dayton Opera, having previously sung the role of Nedda in Pagliacci, Mimi in La Bohème, Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly, and most recently starring as a soloist in Dayton Opera’s 50th Anniversary Star Gala in 2011.

Also debuting in the role of Amneris, lovely Greek-American mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakas has been hailed as "the type of singer that makes one remember why to go to the opera." The Boston Globe has praised Chianakas as "an audience favorite, singing with a strong, cutting voice and breathing real pathos” into her characters.  This marks Layna’s sixth time performing with Dayton Opera, with lead roles in Rigoletto in 2004, Madame Butterfly in 2006, Don Giovanni in 2007, and solos in both Dayton Opera’s 50th Anniversary Star Gala in 2011 and the Season Opening Spectacular in 2013.

As Radamès, and in his Dayton Opera and role debut, tenor John Pickle is quickly making a name for himself, most recently for his portrayals of Erik in Der Fliegende Holländer, a role in which he debuted with Los Angeles Opera last season. Of a recent performance as the jilted hunter, the Kansas City Star raved, “Pickle’s emotionally wrought characterization drove this (performance) even harder home than usual.”

Baritone Grant Youngblood sings the role of Aida’s father the Ethiopian King Amonasro. Hailed as a tall, dashing baritone “with a robust sound with ringing top notes,” Grant Youngblood’s many orchestral appearances have garnered enthusiastic praise for his “smooth lyric baritone voice bringing beautiful shading and color to the score.”  Grant has previously sung with the Dayton Opera as Figaro in The Barber of Seville in 2001, and as Scarpia in the 2005 production of Tosca.

Bass Harold Wilson makes his Dayton Opera debut as Ramfis, the high priest of Egypt. Of his performance of role with the Tulsa Opera, the Tulsa World said "Harold Wilson's resonant bass made for a magisterial high priest Ramfis...."

Kenneth Shaw, bass, who sings the role of the King of Egypt, is a fifteen-year Professor of Voice at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He is a frequent performer with Dayton Opera and has an illustrious performance resume with companies throughout the U.S., appearing for his fourteenth time on stage with the Dayton Opera since 2001. This will be his second time singing the role of the King of Egypt for Dayton Opera’s Aida, having performed over a decade ago in the same role on the Schuster stage!

Dayton Opera’s Artist-in-Residence Tenor Logan Rucker will sing the role of Messenger, having most recently sung for Dayton Opera the roles of Sandman and Dew in Hansel & Gretel and Spoletta in Tosca. 

Soprano Andrea Chenoweth and UD voice faculty member makes her Dayton Opera debut in the role of the High Priestess. Berkshire on Stage has praised her as having “…a clear, pure voice that seems to flow easily from one end of the coloratura's range to the other.”

Aida even brings individuals from the community to the stage to help bring the pageantry of this opera to life. A large assembly of the Dayton Opera Chorus, under chorus master Jeffrey Powell, will be augmented by members of the Dayton Philharmonic Chorus. Members of Dayton Opera’s regular supernumerary corps will be expanded by members of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Airmen’s Benevolent Society who will portray Egyptian soldiers and other colorful characters to fill the stage for the magnificent triumphal scene.

The very first opera performed in the Schuster Center over a decade ago finally returns to the stage with an unparalleled collaboration between all three art forms – Dayton Opera, Dayton Ballet, and Dayton Philharmonic.  Aida promises to be an operatic event that you will positively not want to miss!

Aida is performed in Italian with English surtitles.

Want to learn even more about the grandeur that is Aida? Come one hour prior to both performances to hear pre-performance talks presented by UD music professor, Dr. Sam Dorf.  Delicious “Opera bites” are also available in the Wintergarden before the performance and at the first intermission.


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.  The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is proud to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year "Music Alive" grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras.

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