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In an economy that is decimating organizations such as the Sacramento Opera and the Sacramento Ballet Company, the Folsom Symphony is experiencing a red-hot season of success with well-planned concerts and sold-out venues.
A fair warning: Tickets for the symphony’s inaugural “Sugar and Spice” concert on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) at Folsom Lake College’s large performing arts theater are expected to be gone within a few weeks.
“Sugar and Spice” is expected to be a memorable sell-out, with the Folsom Symphony’s signature blend of the classics, pops and selections from the cinema and Broadway — all with a romantic twist for Valentine’s Day.
The concert will conclude the opening week of the Los Rios Community College District’s newest facility, and a true jewel of a building it is. Stage One, the large performing arts theater at Folsom’s “Mini Mondavi” is reputed to have excellent acoustics. There is seating for 850, and the facility is designed as an homage to England’s famous Globe Theatre.
The evening’s entertainment kicks off under the baton of Maestro Michael Neumann with the “Overture to Pique Dame” by Franz von Suppé. First performed on June 22, 1864, this opera was based on the same story that inspired Pyotr Tchaikovsky to write his opera, “Queen of Spades,” that was performed by Sacramento Opera last year. Von Suppé’s operas may have faded into obscurity, but his overtures certainly have not. This work has moments of melodrama and then takes the audience on a delightful gallop that will have everyone in high spirits.
The “Carmen Suites, No. 1” by Georges Bizet was first performed in Paris (appropriately the “City of Love) in 1873. Audiences will readily recognize this piece as “Les Toreadors” from Bizet’s opera, “Carmen.”
The Parisian musical journey continues with the lovely, romantic strains of Charles-François Gounod’s famous waltz, “Ah! Je veux vivre” (“Ah! I want to Live!”) from “Roméo et Juliette.” First performed in 1867, this opera is famous for this aria for soprano.
San Francisco Bay Area soprano Brett Ruona is the symphony’s special guest for the evening. She will perform several romantic arias.
In Guiseppi Verdi’s aria “Caro Nome,” the character Gilda focuses on the “Dearest Name” of her noble lover (who actually gave Gilda a false name; but that’s the drama of opera for you) from the opera “Rigoletto” (which debuted on March 11, 1851). It is beautiful, passionate and tender. Verdi refused, as a rule, to compose arias with a high C … but this aria has enough high notes for the audience to forgive him.
Turning to the Parisian Belle Époque, an era lively with romance, the Folsom Symphony will perform a work from composer Jules Massenet’s opera “Manon” called “Obéissons quand leur voix appelle (Let us obey when their voice calls us).” Lovers of opera will enjoy these selections.
Should anybody in the audience feel lightheaded after all this opera, Maestro Neumann has a sure way to revive them: The rousing “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini. Also known as the theme to “The Lone Ranger,” this overture has it all to wake up a sleepy audience member — right down to a thundering, musical Alpine storm. It was first performed at the Paris Opéra in 1829.
This rousing classical music interlude concludes with Emmanuel Chabrier’s “España.” First performed in 1883 at the Théâtre du Château d’Eau for the Société des Nouveaux Concerts in Paris, “España” is a loud, joyful piece of music that audiences are sure to enjoy.
The musical mood shifts to Broadway musical numbers from the last century.
The famous duo of Rogers and Hart wrote “My Funny Valentine” and “I Wish I were In Love Again.” As a musical side note, Richard Rogers considered retiring after the death of his musical partner and friend, Lorenz Hart. It took a talented young man named Oscar Hammerstein II to make him reconsider.
The Broadway entertainment continues with “A Little Bit of Love” by Leonard Bernstein and “Love! It Only Happens when I Dance with You” by Irving Berlin.
What’s the best way to conclude a romantic evening of “Sugar and Spice” music? With a piece from “My Fair Lady.” Librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe wrote “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and this piece seems a fitting conclusion to a week of celebration that is planned for Los Rio’s newest facility. Audiences won’t want this evening to end.
It’s been said that luck happens when opportunity meets preparedness. To put it another way, the harder the Folsom Symphony family members work, the luckier they get. This musical organization is proving that the musical arts can survive with the right combination of community support, artistic talent, entertaining musical offerings and a board that works overtime to make sure the organization succeeds. The Folsom Symphony is an example of what can be done, even in down economies. It is a stirring symbol of hope in the region.
Those who love music and regional “happenings” will not want to miss this concert — it promises to be memorable and exciting.
The “Sugar and Spice” concert will be performed one evening only, on Monday, Feb. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Order tickets soon, as this performance is absolutely expected to sell out — every performance has played to a completely full house this season. Stage One at the Folsom Lake College Performing Arts Complex is located at 10 College Parkway (just off East Bidwell Street) in Folsom.
Season tickets and single tickets are available. Single tickets are $22 to $42. To purchase tickets call the Ticketline at (916) 357-6718 or visit folsomsymphony.com.
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