Fri, June 30, 2023
21:00 – 22:30
Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese, 120
50139 Firenze, Italy
The European première of excerpts from the opera The Garden of the Finzi Contini, New York City Opera, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Michael Korie, based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani and the film by Vittorio De Sica. (Performances: June 29 and 30, 2023)
This summer, in partnership with NYU Florence, New York City Opera is presenting two exclusive performances of selected scenes from the Opera with a cast of four singers, accompanied by piano. It will be the first performance of this piece since its 2022 world premiere production in New York.
The presentation of this opera, set in the 1930s, will be accompanied by a fashion exhibit from the collection of Villa La Pietra, displaying gowns that were worn by Hortense Acton at Villa La Pietra in the 1920s and 1930s. The Milieu at Villa La Pietra in the 1920s-1930s. Fashion, Paintings, and Photography from the Acton Mitchell Family (19 June – 28 September 2023), curated by Francesca Baldry and Claudia Beyer, will be visible between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Light refreshments will be served before the concert.
A new opera by Ricky Ian Gordon (composer) and Michael Korie (librettist), based on the novel by Giorgio Bassani.
Micòl Finzi-Contini, soprano Rachel Blaustein
Giorgio, tenor Won Whi Choi
Alberto Finzi-Contini, baritone Brian James Myer
Papà, baritone Jason Detwiler
Music Director/Pianist Dmitry Glivinskiy
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis tells a love story set in Ferrara among Italian Jews in the 1930s within Fascist Italy. The opera is based on Giorgio Bassani’s 1962 novel which also inspired the Academy Award-winning 1970 film directed by Vittorio De Sica. On the eve of World War II, the aristocratic Italian Jewish family, the Finzi-Contini, believe they will be immune to the changes happening around them. They make a gracious haven for themselves in their garden, walling out the unpleasantness of the world outside the wall, even as Italy forms its alliance with Nazi Germany and begins to enforce Mussolini’s antisemitic racial laws. The Finzi-Contini discover too late that no one is immune, no one is untouchable.
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis had its world premiere in a co-production with New York City Opera and National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, January 27-February 6, 2022.
Ricky Ian Gordon
Ricky Ian Gordon was born on May 15, 1956 in Oceanside, NY and raised on Long Island. After studying piano, composition, and acting, at Carnegie Mellon University, he settled in New York City, where he quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater. Mr. Gordon’s songs have been performed and or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Judy Collins, Kelli O’Hara, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Nadine Sierra, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others. Recent productions of his work include: Intimate Apparel, an opera commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera and The Lincoln Center Theater with librettist Lynn Nottage, premiered January 2022 at The Lincoln Center Theater directed by Bartlett Sher; and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, an opera commissioned by New York City Opera and National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene with librettist Michael Korie, based on Giorgio Bassani’s novel, premiered January 2022 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. https://www.rickyiangordon.com/
Michael Korie received The Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for his work in both musical theater and opera. His collaboration with Tom Kitt and James Lapine, Flying Over Sunset, premiered at Lincoln Center Theater this season with a Tony-nominated score. Korie wrote the lyrics to composer Scott Frankel’s music for the Broadway productions of War Paint and Grey Gardens, with books by Doug Wright, and the Off- Broadway productions of Far From Heaven with book by Richard Greenberg, and Happiness with book by John Weidman, directed by Susan Stroman. Korie and Frankel’s scores have been nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards, received The Outer Critics Circle Award, and have been produced on Broadway, at Playwrights Horizons, and at Lincoln Center Theater as well as throughout the USA and abroad. The London premiere of Grey Gardens won the Offie Award for Best Musical of the year. For opera he adapted Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath composed by Ricky Ian Gordon. Also with Gordon, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis premiered this past season at New York City Opera and National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. https://michaelkorie.com/
Praised for her “brilliant lyric soprano,” Rachel Blaustein is quickly gaining recognition for her riveting stage presence and innate musicality. Rachel was one of the ten national finalists for the 2022 Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, earning a spot as one of the next generation of Opera Stars, and winning the Fernand Lamesch National Finalist Award! This season, Ms. Blaustein will perform the role of Nanetta in Falstaff with Maryland Lyric Opera, the Countess Almaviva in Annapolis Opera’s production of Le nozze di Figaro, Pamina in The Magic Flute for Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ digital series, and will have her Carnegie Hall debut as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana. Other concert engagements include the soprano solo in Mozart’s Requiem with New Choral Society and Gala concerts with Opera Edwardsville and the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra. Rachel will also make recordings of both The Garden of the Finzi-Continis and The Lord of Cries, which have commercial releases in 2023.
Won Whi Choi
Won Whi Choi has been busy captivating and thrilling audiences worldwide with his lustrous and ringing voice, elegant musicianship, and sensitive artistry. In 2020, Mr. Choi made his Metropolitan Opera début as Alfredo in La Traviata to rave reviews and was slated to return for productions of Maria Stuarda and Les Contes d’Hoffmann. This season, Mr. Choi joins The Metropolitan Opera again for both Rigoletto and Fedora, as well as the Seoul Metropolitan Opera’s Romeo and Juliet as Romeo. Choi will also return to the role of Alfredo in La Traviata for Virginia Opera. Last season’s engagements included The Metropolitan Opera’s La Bohème, the Duke in Rigoletto for New York City Opera, the title role in Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Opera Tampa, and Don Jose in Carmen for Minnesota Opera. Upcoming, Choi will return to the role of Rodolfo in La Bohème and looks forward to a house debut with Atlanta Opera.
Brian James Myer
Baritone Brian James Myer has been praised as an artist of “both voice and character to make him stand out in the crowd” (Sarasota Observer). Mr. Myer returns to New York City Opera having sung Alberto in the workshop and world premiere of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, as well as Carlos in Stonewall and Young Erich in Dear Erich. In 2021-2022, he joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera as the cover of Marcellus/Player 4 in Brett Dean’s Hamlet. In 2022-23, he returns to Opera Orlando as Papageno (Die Zauberflöte) and to Opera San Jose as Minister (Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella), sings Milcom Negley (The Last American Hammer) with Opera Grand Rapids, sings Davis Miller (Approaching Ali) with Opera Las Vegas, debuts Count Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) with Tri-Cities Opera/Syracuse Opera, reprises Papageno with Norwalk Symphony Orchestra, performs in recitals with Brooklyn Art Song Society, and debuts with Symphony San Jose in Carmina Burana. Mr. Myer holds degrees from University of Nevada Las Vegas and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
With nearly sixty roles to his credit, Jason Detwiler has become well-known for his magnetic and energizing stage performances. His voice and acting have been described as “emotionally fervid,” “richly expressive,” and “commanding.” The baritone has performed nationally and abroad with San Diego Opera, Virginia Opera, Opéra Théâtre d’Avignon, Teatro Comunale di Narni, Opera Santa Barbara, Opera Parallèle, Center for Contemporary Opera, Syracuse Opera, Opera Mississippi, Modesto Opera, Sacramento Opera, Light Opera of New Jersey, Opera Idaho, Inland Northwest Opera, Opéra Louisiane, Shreveport Opera, Rimrock Opera, West Bay Opera, Gemma Arts, Vallejo Symphony Orchestra, the American Philharmonic Sonoma County, the Idaho State-Civic Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, and the Masterworks Chorale of San Mateo. The baritone has continued to expand his repertory with the musical leads in Carousel, The King & I, Oklahoma!, and South Pacific. Mr. Detwiler is managed by Randsman Artists Management and studies with Andrea DelGiudice in New York.
MUSIC DIRECTOR / PIANIST
Dmitry Glivinskiy is a Ukrainian vocal coach and conductor. He is a graduate of Mannes College of Music and of the Peabody Institute where, among his teachers, were Pavlina Dokovska, Boris Slutsky, and Scott Jackson Wiley. Most recently, he worked with OnSite Opera as a pianist for their What Lies Beneath project at the South Street Seaport and with New York City Opera on their production of The Garden of the Finzi-Continis in its premiere production. Last summer, he returned to the Glimmerglass Festival as a young artist assistant conductor. He is a former faculty member of Hofstra University and Brooklyn College and is currently the music director of the opera department and head coach at the University of Connecticut.