SASO Heads to Oaxaca for Opera Festival

The Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra is starting its 2013-14 season early with its first-ever trip to Mexico this weekend.

Of course, international touring is nothing new for the volunteer orchestra. Last year it made its second tour of China since 2009.

SASO, under the baton of music director and conductor Linus Lerner, will perform at the inaugural Oaxaca Opera Festival Saturday and Sunday. The orchestra will be joined by a chorus and 16 soloists from Mexico who competed for their slots in the festival.

Lerner, who also is artistic director and founder of the Oaxaca Opera Festival, will lead the performance of selections by Bizet, Donizetti, Gounod, Handel, Mascagni, Massenet, Mozart, Puccini and Verdi. SASO will perform the overture to Verdi’s “Nabucco” and the intermezzo from Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana.” The orchestra, soloists and chorus will join in for four Verdi selections – “Brindisi,” “Gypsy Chorus” and “Matadors’ Chorus,” all from La Traviata, and “Va Pensiero” from “Nabucco.”

The opera festival is part of Oaxaca’s fourth annual Festival of the Historic Center. SASO performs Saturday in the Teatro Macedonio Alcalá and Sunday at the Church of Santo Domingo.

Lerner, who left for Mexico last week, said in a written statement that both venues “are absolutely outstanding acoustically.”

“The Teatro Alcalá resembles a mix of Carnegie Hall of New York and Teatro La Scala of Milan,” he added.

Lerner has led SASO since 2008. The University of Arizona alumnus also is music director of the Symphony Orchestra of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil and has conducted orchestras, operas, choruses and ensembles in his native Brazil, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Spain and the U.S.

The arias and soloists are:

  • Bizet’s Carmen –”Toreador Song,” baritone Lleavno Velazquez
  • Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment – “Ah mes amis,” tenor Enrique Guzman
  • Donizetti’s The Elixir 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,” countertenor Gamaliel Mejia
  • Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana – “Voi lo sapete o Mamma,” soprano Caroline Wong
  • Massenet’s Werther – “Va! Laisse couler mes larmes,” mezzo-soprano Viridiana Sotto
  • Mozart’s The Magic Flute – Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön,” tenor Felipe Gallegos
  • Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – “Aprite pn po’ quegli occhi,” baritone Gabriel Navarro
  • Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro – “Porgi, amor,” soprano Adriana de Leon
  • Puccini’s La Boheme – “Si mi chiamano Mimi,” soprano Rebeca de Rueda
  • Puccini’s Madama Butterfly – “Un bel dì 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,” 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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