Overview

Opera Reviews

American composer Mark Adamo revives Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of the Civil War era.

A masterly and often poetic distillation… [Little Women] does everything an opera should do. Not least, it leaves an audience moved.

—Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

This intimate work was specifically chosen to spotlight the exceptional, emerging talent of the MOT Studio Artists in the state-of-the-art, yet personal, Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.

Music by Mark Adamo
Libretto by the composer after Louisa May Alcott’s novel
Premiered in Houston, 1998

Presented at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.
Running time: About 2 hours
Sung in English.

Bravo playbill

Afterglow Reception

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Following Sunday’s performance of Little Women, enjoy hors d’oeuvres and meet the artists. Cash bar.
Information, tickets.

Community Events

Friday, February 17 | 7:00 PM
Overture to Little Women with MOT Resident Artists
Anton Arts Center
125 Macomb Pl, Mt Clemens


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Thursday, February 23 | 8:00 PM
Screening of Little Women (1933) with Katherine Hepburn
Detroit Yacht Club
Click here to RSVP


Saturday, February 25 | 1:00–2:00 PM
Austin Stewart lecture on Little Women, “Whispered Secrets” with live musical selections
Ferndale Public Library
222 E 9 Mile Rd, Ferndale


Sunday, February 26 | 3:00 PM
Austin Stewart lecture on Little Women, “Whispered Secrets” with live musical selections
Clinton-Macomb Public Library
40900 Romeo Plank Rd, Clinton Twp


Tuesday, February 28 | 12:15–1:00 PM
Little Women Lunch & Learn
Facebook Live

Artists

Briana Elyse Hunter

Jo

Mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter was a mesmerizing Carmen, contributing a fiery theatrical presence and dynamic vocalism. Hunter consistently displayed impressive fluidity in her flawless “Habanera” and “Seguidilla.”
— Opera News

Briana Hunter hails from Malvern, Pennsylvania where she was a student in the Great Valley School District, recognized for their strong music and theater programs. In 2000 she had the unique pleasure of working with Tony and Academy Award winning playwright Mark Medoff in a production of his play Gunfighter–A Gulf War Chronicle.

Ms. Hunter attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina and found herself on the stage once again, this time under the direction of the Royal Shakespeare Company in an original production double billed Infinite Variety/For Every Passion Something. The show would also have her call upon her vocal abilities as she presented “The Willow Song” from Rossini’s Othello in addition to playing the roles of Hippolyta in Midsummer Nights Dream and Lord Westmorland in Henry IV: Part I. The show debuted on the campus of Davidson College, and continued performances in the Fringe Festival in Scotland for an additional two week run. Back in North Carolina, Ms. Hunter went on to play Livia in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, J.S. in Necessary Targets and “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could” The Vagina Monologues both by Eve Ensler, Karla Wonder of the World by David Lindsey-Abaire. No stranger to the music department, she also performed in opera scenes including 2nd Lady Die Zauberflote and Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, and the title role of Josephine in a full production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. The Davidson Concert Choir awarded her the solo in John Corigliano’s Fern Hill.

She went on to attend the prestigious Manhattan School of Music for Classical Voice where she performed in mainstage productions with the opera department (Summer and Smoke, La vida breve, Of Love and Loss: Opera Scenes, The Ghosts of Versailles).

Briana Elyse Hunter

Jo

Joseph Michael Brent

Laurie

Joseph Michael Brent is an artist of Michigan Opera Theatre Studio. Last season he appeared as 3rd SS Officer in Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s The Passenger, Malcolm in Verdi’s Macbeth, and first armored man in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. In 2015, Mr. Brent made both role and company debuts as Mayor Upfold in the Bronx Opera’s production of Albert Herring and Edgardo in the New York Opera Exchange production of Lucia di Lamermoor. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Georgia in the fall of 2014 with a dissertation on selected vocal works of Giovanni Paolo Bottesini. He is a native New Yorker, a proud graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and holds an undergraduate degree from the conservatory of music at Purchase College S.U.N.Y. in double bass performance. He was a student of Metropolitan Opera baritone Frederick Burchinal.

Joseph Michael Brent

Laurie

Angela Theis

Beth

“A bright, bold, and beguilingly sung Zerlina.”
—The Boston Globe

 

This season, soprano Angela Theis makes her debut with Toledo Opera as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and returns to her hometown Michigan Opera Theatre as Beth in the upcoming production of Little Women. As a perennial favorite of Michigan Opera Theatre, she has performed Frasquita in Carmen, Papagena (Pamina cover) in The Magic Flute, Laurie in The Tender Land, Yvette in The Passenger, the High Priestess in Aïda, Marzelline in Fidelio, and Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro. Around the country, opera credits include Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Frasquita in Carmen (Opera Roanoke), Adina in L’elisir d’amore and Mabel in Pirates of Penzance (Eugene Opera), Johanna in Sweeney Todd (Syracuse Opera), and Beth in Little Women and the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel (Utah Opera). She has been honored with numerous grants and awards, most notably as a fellow to study under soprano Barbara Bonney at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria. Ms. Theis is an original member of the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio, where she is currently in her second year as the soprano resident artist.

Angela Theis

Beth

Clodagh Earls

Amy

Hailed as “spectacular” and the “epitome of vocal fireworks”, Canadian Soprano Clodagh Earls is quickly gaining recognition for her soaring coloratura, charming and captivating presence on North American stages. In 2015, she made her Michigan Opera Theatre debut performing in Robert Rodriguez’s Frida, Gounod’s Faust, Lehar’s The Merry Widow and in 2016 as Mrs. Jenks in Copland’s The Tender Land. Ms. Earls holds a Master of Music (University of Toronto) and a Bachelor of Music (University of Western Ontario).

Clodagh Earls

Amy

Jeff Byrnes

John Brooke

Baritone Jeff Byrnes returned to Michigan Opera Theatre last season as a Studio Artist. He performed the roles of Schanuard in La Bohème, 1st SS Officer in The Passenger, Old Servant in Elektra and The Bonze in Madame Butterfly. Prior to joining MOT, he performed the role of Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking with Dayton Opera, and he covered Germont in La Traviata and Balstrode in Peter Grimes with Des Moines Metro Opera. Other operatic highlights include Leporello in Don Giovanni and the title role in The Mikado with the Natchez Opera Festival, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sprecher in Die Zauberflöte, and Pilate in St. John Passion with CCM Opera. He was a regional finalist in the Rocky Mountain Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in 2014.

Jeff Byrnes

John Brooke

Laura Krumm

Meg

Beautiful mezzo-soprano Laura Krumm, always a delight onstage, shone in Rossini’s great closing aria from La Cenerentola.
-San Francisco Classical Voice

Praised for her “exceptionally beautiful mezzo” and “always a delight on stage” Iowa native Laura Krumm is a 2013 graduate of the prestigious Adler Fellowship of the San Francisco Opera. A former Merola Opera Program artist, Ms. Krumm has been heard in several roles on the company’s mainstage including Rosina in the family matinee performances of The Barber of Seville, the Countess Ceprano and the Page in Verdi’s Rigoletto, and a Maid in the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne.

Laura Krumm

Meg

Diane Schoff

Aunt Cecilia

Diane Schoff performs regularly with Michigan Opera Theatre both as a part of the ensemble and in comprimario roles. Recent career highlights include the second lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute (May 2016) the Second Maid in Elektra (October 2014), Natalia Trotsky in Frida (March 2015), and Praskovia in the Merry Widow (May 2015) with MOT. Diane holds the honor of being a National Semifinalist in the Metropolitan Opera Competition and was an apprentice with San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program where she performed the roles of Pr. Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus and Zulma in L’Italiana in Algeri. Regional credits also include roles with Opera for the Young and Milwaukee Opera Theater. A recent transplant to the Detroit metro area, Diane sings at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church as soloist and section leader.

Diane Schoff

Aunt Cecilia

Brent Michael Smith

Friedrich Bhaer

Acclaimed by Opera News as a “standout,” young American bass, Brent Michael Smith, is a rising star whose rich voice and charming persona have attracted the attention of companies across the United States.

Brent returns to Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) as a Resident Artist for the 2016-17 season. His roles at MOT this season include: Zuniga in Carmen, the British Major in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera, Silent Night, by Kevin Puts, Friedrich Bhaer in Little Women, Ashby in La fanciulla del West and Marquis de Bresaille in David DiChiera’s Cyrano. In February, Brent makes his debut with Toledo Opera, performing Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro.

During his first season as a Resident Artist with MOT, Brent made his debut as Colline in La Bohème. Other notable roles that season were the Second SS Officer in The Passenger, Grandpa Moss in The Tender Land, The Doctor in Macbeth and the Speaker in The Magic Flute.

In the summer of 2017, Brent will make his mainstage debut with the Glimmerglass Festival as one of their young artists. He will sing Ariodates in Serse as well as the Commentator in Derrick Wang’s opera Scalia/Ginsburg.

In 2015, Brent sang Harry Hopkins in the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s A Woman in Morocco, as a part of Kentucky Opera’s American Opera Initiative.

Brent has also been a young artist with Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera and with Des Moines Metro Opera where Colorado Music Buzz praised him for “making the most of his brief appearances” as Billy Jackrabbit in La fanciulla del West.

Brent received his master of music degree from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), singing under the tutelage of John Hines. He received his bachelor’s degree in music from Hope College (Holland, MI), majoring in piano performance and minoring in Spanish. He studied voice with Linda Dykstra.

Brent is a first-place winner of the Grand Rapids Opera Competition (2012).

Brent Michael Smith

Friedrich Bhaer

Mark Gardner

Gideon March

Mark Gardner (Don Giovanni) had the menacing dark good looks to be effective in the title role; his full throated baritone and his acting left no one in doubt that he was a rake.
-Opera Canada.

Mark has been the recipient of many awards and honors, most recently as the Grand Prize winner for the National Federation of Music Clubs male voice division. He was a finalist in the Nicholas Loren International Vocal Competition, placed Second in the Andrews University International Voice Competition and the Richardson Vocal Competition, and was awarded a Peabody Career Grant, a Peabody Talent Scholarship and the David Adamany Scholarship. Mark completed his Masters of Music from the Peabody Conservatory at the Johns Hopkins University. He holds a Bachelors of Music in Voice Performance and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the Wayne State University.

Mark Gardner

Gideon March

Lisa Agazzi

Alma March

Mezzo-Soprano Lisa Agazzi won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the San Diego District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

She has performed roles with San Diego Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Utah Opera and Indianapolis Opera. Her roles at these companies include: Fyodor in Boris Godunov, Mercédès in Carmen, Third Lady in Die Zauberflöte and Mrs. Segstrom in A Little Night Music.

As a Young Artist with San Diego Opera, Utah Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and the Musica Riva Festival, she toured the United States, Italy and Mexico, singing roles including Dorabella in Cosí Fan Tutte, the title role in La Cenerentola and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana.  She has also sung Adalgisa in Norma with the South Florida Opera in West Palm Beach and Zita in Gianni Schicchi with the Verdi Opera Theatre of Michigan.

Lisa Agazzi

Alma March

Branden C. S. Hood

Mr. Dashwood

Branden C.S. Hood has recently performed the role of Ford in Falstaff with OperaModo in Detroit. He has also performed in Weimar, Germany in Die lustigen weiber von Windsor as Falstaff and as Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro last year. Currently he is singing with Michigan Opera Theatre in its Community Outreach Program. In 2013 Mr. Hood performed the title role of Don Giovanni with The Lyric Opera of Weimar, in Wiemar, Germany. He was awarded with an Encouragement Award from the Michigan District of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2010.

He has attended the young artist programs of Prelude to Performance: Martina Arroyo Foundation, Pine Mountain Music Festival (2010), Opera Saratoga (Outreach Artist 2010), and Dayton Opera (2009). He earned his Bachelor of Music in Opera Emphasis/Vocal Performance at The Boston Conservatory in 2005. There he received The Presser Foundation Award and won the Encouragement Award from the Mario Lanza Institute. Mr. Hood received his Master of Music from The University of Michigan in 2007, and studied with the late Shirley Verrett. In 2009, Mr. Hood received his Specialist Degree at The University of Michigan, studying with Prof. Stephen West.

Branden C. S. Hood

Mr. Dashwood

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Production Team

Suzanne Acton

Conductor

Lawrence Edelson

Director

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Synopsis

Prologue

The opera begins in the March family attic in the 1870s. The 21-year-old Jo is alone, writing, when Laurie, a young man now married to Jo’s sister Amy, arrives. They make awkward conversation, as they reflect on their own past relationship. When Laurie tells Jo that he is glad that things are going back to the way they used to be, Jo becomes upset, and begins the flashbacks that make up the rest of the opera. (“Couldn’t I unbake the breads”).

Scene 1

Three years earlier, in the same attic, the four March sisters and Laurie are holding a meeting of the Barristers’ Club, with much mock ceremony. Jo is protective of Beth, who has been ill. After a game, they ask each other questions in a game of “Truth or Fabrication”.

After the others have left, Laurie. stays behind to talk to Jo, telling her that the glove sister Meg says she has lost has actually been given to Laurie’s tutor, Brooke. Jo is annoyed at the thought of marriage breaking up their family; after Laurie leaves, it distracts her from the story she is writing. (“Perfect as we are.”)

Scene 2

A few weeks later, Jo and Laurie are out walking when they see Meg and Brooke together; Brooke is telling Meg a story hinting at his love (“There was a knight, once”), which Jo interrupts. Before they leave, however, Brooke asks permission to speak with Meg’s father.

Back at home, Beth sings a hymn she has composed as Jo teases Meg, who says that she will refuse Brooke if he proposes, since her father thinks she is too young to marry. But when he appears, she hesitates, but with Jo prompting her from behind the curtains, she refuses him.

The girls’ wealthy Aunt Cecilia arrives, and as Brooke talks to Meg’s parents, Cecilia warns Meg not to throw herself away on a poor man and hints that Brooke is only interested in Meg because of Cecilia’s money. When Meg responds that she will only marry for love, Cecilia storms off, telling Meg she will be written out of her will. Meg accepts Brooke, then tries in vain to get Jo to accept her decision (“Things change, Jo”).

Scene 3

On Meg and Brooke’s wedding morning, the March parents repeat their own wedding vows, which Meg has asked to use, for the family. Meanwhile, Laurie takes Jo aside, and though she tries to forestall him, he proposes. Jo refuses, telling him that they could never be happy together. Laurie runs off, crushed. Amy, who has feelings for Laurie herself, has overheard; she upbraids Jo for her cruelty to Laurie. As they argue, Beth, who has been ill, collapses and the entire family rushes to help her as the act ends.

Act II

Scene 1

A year later, Jo has come to New York City, to stay in the hopes that Laurie will forget her and things will go back to the way they were. She sells a story to a magazine; through the letters she writes and receives, we learn that Laurie is now a sophomore at Oxford; that Brooke and Meg are the parents of twins; that Amy is on a tour of England, at Cecilia’s expense; and that Beth is not improving.

Friedrich Bhaer, another resident of Jo’s boarding house, arrives to take her to the opera, but Jo tells her parents not to worry, as he is thirty-nine.

Scene 2

At the boarding house that night, Jo and Bhaer discuss the opera, art, and love; at the same time, in England, Amy and Laurie talk about Jo, and Beth tries to compose a finale for a chorale. To convince Jo that there is more to art than the sensation stories she has been writing, Bhaer sings a setting of Goethe, first in German, then in English (“Kennst du das Land”/”Do You Know the Land”). They are interrupted by a telegram from Meg’s mother, telling Jo that Beth is worse and asking Jo to come at once.

Scene 3

Beth is asleep in her bedroom, ill with scarlet fever, but she wakes up when Jo arrives. Jo is frantic, but Beth is calm and resigned, and tries to teach her sister to be the same (“Have peace, Jo”). Beth asks if she can sleep for a minute, and as the chorus sings her chorale, she dies peacefully. Jo turns to Meg for comfort, but Brooke is comforting her; Jo exclaims, “I’ve lost you all.”

Scene 4

The following spring, Jo and Cecilia discuss Amy’s latest letter; she and Laurie are finally in love. Jo also admits that Bhaer has not written to her. Cecilia praises Jo’s strength and tells Jo that she has left her fortune to her, since only she, with her solitary, unchanging ways, will appreciate them, isolated as she is from fickle lovers or friends (duet: “You, alone”). Jo, faced with this vision of her future, finally realizes that change is a necessary part of life.

Scene 5

Back in the attic, as in the Prologue, Jo wonders, with all of this change, what endures? Laurie arrives, and the scene from the Prologue is repeated, but this time, Jo tells Laurie that things can never be as they were, but that they can remain friends despite the changes. Meg remembers her sisters together, and says her goodbyes to those days (quartet: “Let me look at you”).

As the memory of her childhood fades, Bhaer arrives. He asks her if now is a good moment, and she replies, “Now is all there is.”

-Courtesy US Opera

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