June  25, 2015
When Hi-Brow and Low-Brow Collide:
Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos
Explores Dilemmas of Art and Love

  The story: 
A rich patron has organized some after-dinner entertainment -- a comedy troupe and a newly- commissioned opera. However, dinner has run late. To the horror of all involved, he commands that the two acts be performed simultaneously, so that they'll be done in time for the fireworks.
   The story then veers between comedy and tragedy, as the low-class comedy players try to cheer up the desolate Ariadne, abandoned on a desert island by her faithless lover. It's an opera within an opera that juxtaposes slapstick humor with passionately dramatic singing.
   With Ariadne auf Naxos in 1916, Richard Strauss and his librettist, Hugo von Hofmannsthal followed up on the success of their Der Rosenkavelier (1911) with an opera with a crazy plot.  Who would think of forcing a low-class comedy troupe and a group of opera singers to perform simultaneously?  Yet, amazingly, this enforced collaboration emerges as both touching and hilarious, thanks to some of the most delicious music Strauss ever wrote. Of course, from the point of view of the performers, everything that can go wrong, does.
   Festival Opera has assembled a stellar cast for this production, featuring Othalie Graham as the Prima Donna (Ariadne), Robert Breault as Bacchus, Shawnette Sulker as Zerbinetta, Catherine Martin as the Composer, and Kirk Eichelberger as the Music Master.
   The smaller-size orchestra Strauss set for the opera is the perfect (and usual) size for Festival Opera -- no need for an orchestra reduction. And maestro Michael Morgan, who will stage-direct as well as conduct the production, invites us into the story with all of the players "backstage" with the curtain open; we are immersed in the action from the moment we enter the theater.
   The music is vintage Strauss -- rich, often opulent and full of color. It's a true ensemble piece. It also features one of the most fiendishly challenging coloratura arias ever written.
   The subject: the artist's dilemma -- with musings on life, art and love -- is as relevant today as when it was written.

* * *
Tickets are on now on sale for Ariadne auf Naxos, 8 pm Friday, July 10 and 2 pm Sunday, July 12 in the Hofmann Theater of the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

    * Opening Night Dinner at Prima
    Join us for a special opening-night experience: good food, good wine, and good company at an elegant pre-opera dinner at Prima Ristorante, just a block from the Lesher Center. Just $120 per person, reserve your place at the same time you order your opera tickets.
 Click here for ticketing information.
Contact Us

Festival Opera

1630 North Main Street, #61 

Walnut Creek, California 94596   



Sara Nealy - General Director

Dick Brundage, CBC - Marketing Director  



Board of Directors    

Susie Hanson, Chair

Peter Johnson, Vice Chair 

David Baer, Secretary      

Nina Bancroft Dickerson 

Jennifer Kwock-Lau     

Diane Heald         





2015 Calendar
    Tickets NOW ON SALE for
   Ariadne auf Naxos

THUR June 25
7 pm
Festival Opera Lite:
"Heart and Soul"
Walnut Creek Marriott
Rebecca Garcia, soprano
Igor Vieira, baritone
FRI July 10 
Opening Night Party
Prima Ristorante, Walnut Creek  
FRI July 10
Ariadne auf Naxos 
Lesher Center for the Arts
Walnut Creek  
SUN July 12
Ariadne auf Naxos 
Lesher Center for the Arts
Walnut Creek 
Thurs July 30
7 pm
Festival Opera Lite:
"Starlight, Starbright"
Walnut Creek Marriott
David Gustafson, tenor
Molly Mahoney, mezzo-soprano
Nov 13-15
Chamber operas: 
Holst's Savitri and
River of Light
Venue TBA
Dec 10  
6:30 pm 
2015 Holiday Gala
Round Hill Country Club
Festival Opera Lite "Heart and Soul: 
Songs that Tug on the Heartstrings"
Walnut Creek Marriott~Thursday, June 25
Igor Vieira
Rebecca Garcia
    Festival Opera Lite is back by popular demand for another engagement at the Walnut Creek Marriott, with "Heart and Soul -- Songs that Tug at the Heartstrings." Festival Opera Lite presents familiar opera arias, popular songs and Broadway show tunes. Come enjoy a laid-back social scene with music, food, wines, and good company.  
   Featured Bay Area opera stars Rebecca Garcia and Igor Vieira will be joined by piano accompanist, Danielle Naler. A wonderful menu for dinner and small plates is available, and wine specials will also be offered in Atrio Restaurant in the hotel lobby. No cover charge, however a one-drink minimum is requested.    
   Baritone Igor Vieira has performed 80 different operatic roles. He made his San Francisco Opera debut in Puccini's La Fanciulla del West in 2010, being the first male Brazilian singer ever to perform with the company. In 2011, he returned to the San Francisco Opera stage to sing with Renee Fleming in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia to great critical acclaim.
   Festival Opera favorite, soprano Rebecca Garcia, has sung in our 2014 production of Ullmann's chamber opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, in the 2012 Make Our Garden Grow concert, as Juliette in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette (2004), and as Paquette in Bernstein's Candide in 2005.
   For more information and reservations for dinner during "Heart and Soul" in Atrio, call the Walnut Creek Marriott at 925.934.2000.

2015 Marriott Opera in the Park
It was a Happy Father's Day for All

L-R: Jose Hernandez (tenor), Molly Mahoney (mezzo-soprano), Shawnette Sulker (soprano),
and Daniel Cilli (baritone).
Festival Opera photo