Opera Theater's performance-filled Summerfest has international flair

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 6:09 p.m.

The third season of Opera Theater's Summerfest, which runs July 10 to 27 in Oakland, will offer four staged works, including a childrens opera along with vocal recitals, happy hours, late-night cabarets and other special events.

Nearly all performances will take place at the Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd., which has upgraded the air conditioning, seating comfort and acoustics.

The 2014 season will see an increased role for international singers — from nine countries this year. Summerfest launched a European vocal competition this fall in Verviers, Belgium, the winners of which will join the winners of the Summerfest's resident artists to perform and understudy at this year's festival.

Opera Theater is looking to begin a European Summerfest as early as 2015. After rehearsals and performances in Pittsburgh, the shows would be repeated in Verviers.

This year's festival begins July 10 with a recital by international opera star and Cabot, Butler County, nativeMarianne Cornetti. She also will give a masterclass July 15.

The three mainstage productions will be performed in English with orchestral accompaniment in the 400-seat Art Deco Theater.

“The Merry Widow,” July 11, 19 and 27, was composer Franz Lehar's breakthrough hit. The romantic comedy, filled with lush melodies, is about a rich widow in a small, poor country and the efforts to find the right man for her, in order to keep her money from emigrating.

The hit musical “The Fantasticks,” July 12, 13, 17, 25 and 26, will be the company's annual venture in American musical theater. The show opens with its biggest hit number, “Try to Remember.” The original Broadway production ran 42 years and more than 17,000 performances.

Summerfest will observe the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss with a production of “Ariadne auf Naxos,” July 18, 20 and 26, as well as devoting one of the vocal recitals to his music.

“The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by American composer Lucas Foss is the childrens opera, being performed late mornings on July 12, 19 and 26. It is based on Mark Twain's short story set in the 19th century during the gold rush.

Summerfest also will present a July 22 workshop of an eco-opera in progress based on the work of environmentalist Rachel Carson by composer Gilda Lyons and librettist Tammy Ryan.

Vocal recitals begin July 13 with countertenor Andrey Nemzer, who won the Mildred Miller competition before becoming one of the winners of the 2012 Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions.

The other vocal recitals will feature Summerfest's resident artists on July 16; the winners of the Europe Summerfest competition, July 19; a tribute to Metropolitan opera star and Opera Theater founder Mildred Miller, July 23; and the Strauss recital, July 24.

Subscriptions are $47.50 to $142 for two mainstage productions and $67.50 to $202.50 for the three mainstage productions. Single tickets to the mainstage operas and Cornetti's recital are $25 to $75. Admission to the childrens opera is $5 and $10. Most other single tickets are $25.

Deluxe packages are called “Passports;” the Gold is $550 and includes admission to everything including dinners, receptions and free parking; the Silver is $325 and incudes everything except Cornetti's recital. For Cornetti's July 10 performance, a pre-concert opening night dinner is $60 and the opening night post-concert reception is available to all audience members at $35.

Details: 412-621-1499 or www.otsummerfest.org

Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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