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'Italian Girl in Algiers' onstage next 2 weekends starting tomorrow

Metropolitan Opera's Bruce Donnell to direct Rossini's comedy in Livermore

Strong women who get what they want and pompous men who stand in their way is the basic premise of Gioachino Rossini's hilarious comedy, "The Italian Girl in Algiers." Livermore Valley Opera will present the comedy/tragedy for two weekends beginning March 12 in Livermore.

Metropolitan Opera director Bruce Donnell is returning for the second time to direct this production in Livermore.

"We are delighted to once again have Bruce Donnell as stage director," LVO president Jim Schmidt said. "Audiences loved Mr. Donnell's presentation of 'Cinderella' with its comical flare, and we expect the same for 'The Italian Girl in Algiers,' another excellent Rossini comedic opera."

The work was first performed in 1813, when Rossini was 21, and it reflects his vibrancy and playfulness. The opera is known for being wacky but with a serious undertone that pokes fun at authority figures, inept lovers and unfaithful husbands while making the heroine, Isabella, the clear winner in a battle of the sexes.

Several of the singers are also returning, including tenor Marco Stefani, a Pleasanton native who now lives in Italy. He will sing the role of Isabella's lover, Lindoro.

Making her LVO debut is mezzo-soprano Kristen Choi in the lead role of Isabella.

"We are very excited to have Kristen join our stellar cast," said music and artistic director Alexander Katsman. "I've been following her progress since the time she studied at the San Francisco Conservatory where she earned a masters of music degree. I have always wanted to find a major role for her at LVO."

Choi, a California native, was one of three winners in the October 2015 district Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in San Diego. In the Bay Area, she has performed with both Opera Parallele and West Bay Opera.

Katsman described the opera as a delightful and amusing music box of an opera that will please everyone, with a cast that is young, vibrant and full of life.

"Rossini's brilliant music which is marked by slowly building crescendos with incredible energy, melodies you will be humming for days, combined with poignant passages of truly masterful music is an opera you will not want to miss," Katsman said.

Laugh and lament

What: Rossini's "An Italian Girl in Algiers"

Who: Livermore Valley Opera

Where: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays; March 12-20

Tickets: $39-89; go to theater box office; call 373-6800; or visit www.livermoreperformingarts.org

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