June 23, 2006

Music festival features Mozart's 'Don Giovanni'

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Get out your opera glasses. Internationally acclaimed sopranos and baritones will take center stage to perform Mozart's "Don Giovanni" during the second annual Southern Illinois Music Festival, which started June 11 and continues through July 4.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Music and the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra are sponsoring more than 40 concerts, including two performances of the complete opera "Don Giovanni" at 7:30 p.m. on June 29 at the Sesser Opera House in Sesser and at 7:30 p.m. on July 1 at the Shryock Auditorium on the SIUC campus.

"I consider ‘Don Giovanni' to be one of the most important works of Western music history," said Edward M. Benyas, artistic director of the festival. "Last year we performed three different acts from operas by Mozart, Bizet and Puccini. We are excited to do one unified production this year."

"Don Giovanni" will be sung in Italian with super titles projected above the stage, offering an English translation. "We feel it is important to sing in the language Mozart used, since it is so beautiful," said Benyas.

The Southern Illinois Music Festival marks the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth through opera, symphony, instrumental concerto and chamber music. Before each operatic performance, Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist David Tuttle will give a lecture on the history of "Don Giovanni." He will provide perspective on the opera's plot, music and significance.

The shows will feature world-renowned artists. Laura Portune is the opera director and a singer in the production alongside Kyoung Cho, Won Cho, David Dillard, JR Fralick, Katelyn Mattson, John Sauvey and David Lowell Young.

Soprano Laura Portune has captivated audiences throughout the United States and Europe with San Diego Opera, Opera Columbus, Des Moines Metro Opera, Dayton Opera, and Lake George Opera.

Lyric soprano Kyoung Cho has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City, Kennedy Centre in Washington D. C., and other prestigious stages in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and her native Korea.

Bass-Baritone Won Cho won third place in the 31st Vincenzo Bellini International Opera Competition in Italy and first place at the Artist International Music Competition in Toronto, Canada. He currently serves on the voice faculty at State University of New York Fredonia.

SIUC faculty member David Dillard, a baritone, has performed with Austin Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Lake George Opera Festival, DiCapo Opera Theater, San Diego Opera Ensemble and the Tanglewood Music Center.

Tenor J.R. Fralick is chair of the voice department in the Conservatory at Ohio's Baldwin-Wallace College. He also participated in the exclusive Franz Schubert Institut in Vienna, Austria, a series of master classes and recitals of German songs.

David Lowell Young is a former district winner, regional finalist and encouragement award winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Next season he will be a young artist in residence with Chicago Opera Theater.

Baritone John Sauvey has performed with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra New Spain, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Waco Symphony Orchestra and the Baylor University Symphony Orchestra.

SopranoKatelyn wonfirst place in the National Opera Association Competition and is a five-time National Association of Teachers of Singing first placewinner.

The opera's assistant director is Tania Caombs. Dancers from the Susan Barnes Dance Studio in Carbondale will also participate in the presentations.

In addition to SIUC, major sponsors of the Southern Illinois Music Festival include the Illinois Arts Council, the city of Carbondale, The Southern Illinoisan, WSIL-TV, WSIU, the Southern Illinois Symphony Orchestra Patrons Committee, and the Harrison, Hastings and Garwin family foundations.

Dates and times for "Don Giovanni" follow:

• Thursday, June 29

6:45 p.m. – Pre-concert lecture

7:30 p.m. – Mozart's Don Giovanni, Sesser Opera House

$6 adults, $3 children and seniors

• Saturday, July 1

6:45 p.m. – Pre-concert lecture

7:30 p.m. – Mozart's Don Giovanni, Shryock Auditorium, SIUC

$9.50 adults, $6.50 children and seniors

The majority of the festival concerts are free. Tickets for the remaining events are available on the day of the performance at the respective venue or through Ticketmaster by calling 866/646-8849 or going online at www.ticketmaster.com.

A complete schedule of the Southern Illinois Music Festival is available at www.SIFest.com. For more information, call 618/53-MUSIC.

Expanding cultural outreach efforts is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.