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Back by popular demand: Three Opera Carolina favorites star in a classic comedy

Kathryn Lewek, Victor Robertson and Hyung Yun open Opera Carolina’s new season in Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville”

Oct. 22, 27 and 30

Charlotte, N.C., (Sept. 12, 2016) – Kathryn Lewek, Victor Ryan Robertson and Hyung Yun: Three internationally acclaimed artists return to Opera Carolina in Rossini’s classic comedy The Barber of Seville this October.

“Charlotte audiences went wild for Kathryn Lewek and Hyung Yun in Lucia di Lammermoor, and adored Victor Ryan Robertson in Il Trittico and our last production of The Barber of Seville,” said Opera Carolina General Director & Principal Conductor James Meena. “All three are acclaimed international stars who perform with the world’s leading opera houses. We are thrilled to bring them back to the Queen City for all their opera fans, and to introduce new audiences to the beauty of opera through their vocal – and star – power.”

Kathryn Lewek was an instant hit when she played the lead in Lucia Di Lammermoor in 2015. “Katie was the best advertising for Opera Carolina, said Megan Miller, marketing director. “Once people heard her on opening night, word quickly spread. Our ticket sales for Lucia were through the roof.”

Lewek shared the stage with baritone Hyung Yun, who played Enrico to her Lucia. Yun has received a warm reception in Charlotte, and he said the feeling is reciprocated: “The most considerable reason I love to sing at Opera Carolina is the fact that I get to work so closely with Maestro Meena and stage director Mr. Bernard Uzan. They are a wonderful team – like we Koreans say, ‘rice and kimchee.”’

“Their interpretation of music and plot always seems to coincide with mine,” he continued. “When the agreement is complete between the conductor, stage director and singer, it all becomes magically amazing on stage.”

Yun also cites the large number of Korean opera fans who attend Opera Carolina performances as a reason he loves to perform here. “Many of them are my father’s students from back in Korea,” he said. “My father was a performing baritone and teacher in Korea with many students now all over the world. My father passed away nine years ago. To sing his favorite role with Opera Carolina brings back many mixed emotions for me.”

Robertson returns to Charlotte – and to the role of Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, which he also played in 2009. The role has become a specialty for him; he’s played it with the Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Manitoba Opera and Arizona Opera. No matter how many times he sings the role, he always finds there’s a big challenge for him. He said he has “to make the count human. I mean, I don’t know a count. I don’t know anyone who knows a count. I have to try to find the character’s humanity.”

The Barber of Seville is madcap romp involving false identities and a busybody, matchmaking barber. Multiple suitors are vying for the same woman’s affections in a slapstick opera that’s so embedded in pop culture, it’s been lovingly lampooned by Bugs Bunny.

“Our theme this year is ‘Life Set to Music,’ and we intend to demonstrate how the stories told through opera are real and relevant,” said Meena. “In The Barber of Seville, you have gossip, deception, spies and scandal. It sounds like a potboiler until you toss in the zany characters, disguises and cases of mistaken identity. A lot of newcomers don’t realize opera can be downright silly. There’s no better example than The Barber of Seville.”

For the sixth consecutive year, Wells Fargo Private Bank returns as Opera Carolina’s season sponsor. The season is also made possible by the Hearst Corporation and the Hearst Foundations, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Maurer Family Foundation.

Next up on Jan. 22, 26 and 28 is La Traviata, Verdi’s timeless story of a love that’s forbidden because of class differences. (And doomed because the heroine is dying of consumption.) It was the precursor to Pretty Woman and Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!

The season ends with an operatic take on a Western. In La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West), Puccini gives an American twist to an ancient Italian art form. A poker player falls for a saloon-owning lady during the California Gold Rush. It’s as if High Noon or Gunsmoke had been set to soaring music. The good time happens April 23, 27 and 29.

All mainstage performances are at the Belk Theater, North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Season subscriptions are available by calling 704.332.7177, ext. 1. Single tickets for all three operas are on sale now through the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 704.372.1000 or via operacarolina.org. Season subscriptions begin at $90, and single tickets start at just $21.

About the Cast

Soprano Kathryn Lewek (Rosina) is rapidly establishing herself as one of the world’s best coloratura sopranos. She’s gotten international acclaim for what’s already become her signature role – the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, a role she’s played with Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Nashville Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in Handel’s Messiah. In addition to her extensive work in opera, she has a vast concert repertoire. She’s performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, with the Toledo Symphony and the Berkshire Choral Festival, among others. Read her complete bio here.

Baritone Hyung Yu has performed many roles with The Metropolitan Opera, including Valentin in Faust under Maestro James Levine, Ping in Turandot, Lescaut in Manon with Renee Fleming in the title role and Silvio in Pagliacci. He made his debut with Los Angeles Opera as Angelotti in Tosca and returned to sing Marcello in La bohème and Micheletto Cibo in Die Gezeichneten. He debuted as Ping in Turandot with the Santa Fe Opera and returned to sing in their 50th Anniversary Gala Concert. Read his complete bio here.

Victor Ryan Robertson, an Atlanta resident, is as adept at opera as he is at pop and stage musicals. This season, he’ll perform the role of Benny Kid Paret in Champion with Opera Parallele, Sportin’ Life in Porgy and Bess with Spoleto Festival USA and sing with an exciting new project titled World Tenors Unleashed produced by the creators of Three Mo’ Tenors. Read his complete bio here.

Bernard Uzan, stage director for The Barber of Seville, has dedicated his life to the performing arts. His extensive background in the field includes serving as a general director, artistic director, stage director, set designer, librettist, educator, actor and novelist. He was raised in France and graduated from the University of Paris with advanced degrees in literature, theatrical studies and philosophy. Early in his career, he lent his voice to the French dubs of 60 movies including The Graduate, Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. He moved to the U.S. in 1972 and established “French Theater in America,” a company that toured for a decade giving 100 performances each year of classic French plays.

About Opera Carolina

Founded in 1948 by the Charlotte Music Club as a small group of volunteers, today Opera Carolina is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas with an operating budget of more than $2.8 million for the fiscal year 2017.

The mission of Opera Carolina is to inspire the region’s diverse community through the presentation of Opera, Operetta and Education programs that elevate the quality of life in the Carolinas. Opera Carolina has a commitment to artistic excellence and community service.

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Contact: Kathy Rowan

704.591.8945

kathy@rowancommunications.com

James Meena

704.332.7177, ext. 201

James@operacarolina.or