SASO Heads to Oaxaca for Opera Festival

TUCSON, AZ – Members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to perform in the fourth Festival of the Historic Center Opera on August 10 and 11.

The orchestra will be joined by 16 soloists from Mexico who competed for the opportunity to perform, plus a chorus. SASO Music Director Linus Lerner auditioned the soloists and will conduct the program which features opera selections by Bizet, Donizetti, Gounod, Handel, Mascagni, Massenet, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi.

The tour is sponsored by longtime SASO benefactor Irving Olson, a passionate world traveler and photographer.

The orchestra will perform in the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá on Aug. 10 and repeat the concert Aug. 11 in another location yet to be finalized. The musicians will stay at the Hotel Misión de los Ángeles in the historic center of Oaxaca de Juarez, which UNESCO designated a World Historic Site in 1987.

SASO will perform the overture to Nabucco by Verdi and the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni. The orchestra, soloists and chorus will join forces for four Verdi selections – Brindisi, Coro di Zingarelle and Coro di Matadori, all from La Traviata, plus Va Pensiero from Nabucco.

Lerner was named SASO music director in 2008 and has led the orchestra on two tours of China. Earlier this season, Lerner worked with other soloists from the Oaxaca opera festival in a Carnegie Hall performance of the “Mass of the Children” by John Rutter with the Orchestra of the Texas Medical Center. At the time he also was artistic director of the Bayou City Performing Arts in Houston.

In addition to SASO, he is music director of the Symphony Orchestra of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. He’s conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental in Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Spain and the United States. He serves as clinician and vocal coach here and abroad.

The arias and soloists are:

  • Bizet’s Carmen – Votre Toast (Toreador’s Song), baritone Lleavno Velazquez
  • Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment – Ah Mes Amis, tenor Enrique Guzman
  • Donizetti’s The Elixer of Love – Una Furtiva Lagrima, tenor Rodrigo Petate Aragon
  • Gounod’s Faust – Avant de Quitter Ces Lieux, baritone Pablo Aranday Gutierrez
  • Handel’s Rodelinda – Vivi, Tiranno, contratenor Gamaliel Mejia
  • Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana – Voi Lo Sapete o Mamna, soprano Caroline Wong
  • Massenet’s Werther – Va! Laisse Couler Mes Larmes, mezzosoprano Viridiana Sotto
  • Mozart’s The Magic Flute – Dies Bildnis Ist Bezaubernd Schön, tenor Felipe Gallegos
  • Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – Aprite Un Po’ Quegli Occhi, baritone Gabriel Navarro
  • Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – Porgi, Amor, soprano Adriana de Leon
  • Puccini’s La Bohème – Si Mi Chiamano Mimi, soprano Rebeca de Rueda
  • Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – Un Bel di Vedremo, soprano Adriana Romero
  • Puccini’s Turandot – Nessun Dorma, tenor Jorge Gimenez
  • Verdi’s A Masked Ball – Re Dell’abisso Affretatti, contralto Erika Coyote
  • Verdi’s La Traviata – Di Provenza Il Mar Il Suol, baritone Tomas Castellanos
  • Verdi’s Rigoletto – Caro Nome, sung by soprano Penelope Luna

Founded in 1979, SASO is a vital community resource that unites performers and audiences through a passion for music. The orchestra presents world premieres, seldom-performed treasures and classical favorites. For information on the 2013-14 season, visit or call 308-6226.

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