SASO Heads Back to Oaxaca Opera Festival

Members of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico to perform in the second annual Oaxaca Opera Festival on August 9 and 10.

The orchestra will be joined by two dozen soloists from Mexico who competed for the opportunity to perform and to participate in the festival, plus a chorus.

“This is a rare international musical experience. It brings together arias from Europe’s favorite operas, musicians from the United States and some of Mexico’s finest young singers. The energy in these performances is unbelievable,” said SASO Music Director Linus Lerner. He is also the artistic director and founder of the Oaxaca Opera Festival.

Lerner auditioned the soloists and will conduct the program which includes opera selections by Boito, Catalani, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Ponchielli, Puccini, Rossini, Verdi, Vivaldi and Wagner. Lerner also is voice coach for the soloists. All selections will be performed in the original language.

SASO musicians will perform the overture to La Forza del Destino by Verdi and the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni.

The orchestra, soloists and chorus will join forces for choral selections, including the Humming Chorus from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, the Brindisi Chorus from Verdi’s La Traviata and the Witches’ Chorus from Verdi’s Macbeth. The chorus also will perform the Riddiamo chorus from Mefistofele, accompanied by piano.

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

The orchestra will perform at two historic venues, the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá on Aug. 9 and at the Palacio de Gobierno on Aug. 10. “Both venues are absolutely outstanding acoustically,” Lerner said. “The Teatro Alcalá resembles a mix of Carnegie Hall of New York and Teatro La Scala of Milan.” It was built in 1903. The Palacio’s history dates back to 1576. Oaxaca is about 300 miles southeast of Mexico City.

The program includes these operas and arias:

  • Bellini’s “Se Romeo t’uccise un figlio” from I Capuletti e i Montecchi
  • Boito’s “Ecco il mondo” and chorus “Riddiamo” from Mefistofele
  • Boito’s “L’altra Notte” from Mefistofele
  • Catalani’s “Ebben? Ne andro lontana” from La Wally
  • Donizetti’s “Quel Guardo I cavaliere…so anch’io la virtù magica” from Don Pasquale
  • Donizetti’s “Chi me frena in tal momento” from Lucia di Lammermoor
  • Gounod’s “Je Veux Vivre” from Romeo and Juliet
  • Mascagni’s “Voi lo sapete o Mamma” from Cavalleria Rusticana
  • Mozart’s “Soave Sia al vento” from Così fan tutte
  • Mozart’s “Parto, parto, ma tu ben mio” from La Clemenza di Tito
  • Mozart’s “Porgi Amor” from Le Nozze di Figaro
  • Ponchielli’s “Cielo e Mar” from La Gioconda
  • Puccini’s “Un bel di vedremo” from Madama Butterfly
  • Puccini’s “Che gelida manina” from La Bohème
  • Puccini’s “Si, mi chiamano Mimi” from La Bohème
  • Puccini’s “Quando me’n vo soletta” (Musetta’s Waltz) from La Bohème
  • Rossini’s “Si ritrovarla Io giuro” from La Cenerentola
  • Verdi’s “Ah fors’e lui…sempre libera” from La Traviata
  • Verdi’s “Brindisi” from La Traviata
  • Verdi’s “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” (Azucena’s Narrative) from Il Trovatore
  • Verdi’s “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore
  • Verdi’s “La donna e mobile” from Rigoletto
  • Verdi’s “Bella figlia dell’ amore” from Rigoletto

Lerner was named SASO music director in 2008 and has led the orchestra on two tours of China and now to Oaxaca for its second engagement. In addition to SASO and the opera festival, Lerner is music director of the Symphony Orchestra of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil. He’s conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and instrumental ensembles around the world – including Europe, Asia and the Americas. He also is a clinician and vocal coach here and abroad.

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. It also sponsors the annual Dorothy Vanek Youth Concerto Competition. This year SASO released its first CD, called CELEBRATION!, with music by six Tucson composers. The 75-minute CD is on sale now at for $18.50 including shipping.

The orchestra’s 2014-2015 season opens Oct. 4 and 5 featuring Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 and Holst’s The Planets. Season tickets are on sale now. For details, visit or call 308-6226.

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