The University at Albany Department of Music is pleased to present Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre in Serenata Italiana on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 7:30pm at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. This concert is the first offering of the 2013-14 Bel Canto Series.

The concert will feature music ranging from familiar arias by Verdi and Leoncavallo to popular songs by Tosti, Donaudy and others. The stars of the evening will include soprano Rachele Schmeige whose voice was hailed by the Daily Gazette as "lustrous, agile, supple and soar[ing]" for her work with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater's La Traviata this past winter and tenor Chris Lucier whom The New York Times has praised as a "stand out" voice.  The quartet is rounded out by mezzo-soprano Brooke Larimer dubbed by the Boston Phoenix as the "impressive singing actor with the wine-dark voice” and internationally acclaimed baritone Patrick McNally who just played Figaro to great success with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater this summer.  The performers will be accompanied by Michael Clement on piano.

Hubbard Hall Opera Theater is led by Artistic Director Alix Jones and is based at Hubbard Hall, an historic opera house located in Cambridge. The organization strives to give young artists opportunities to perform key operatic roles in a nurturing environment alongside seasoned professionals through main stage productions, the conservatory student training program and outreach performances.  It also engages and builds rural audiences for opera through offering affordable, intimate high-quality musical and theatrical performances. 

Soprano Rachele Schmiege has performed throughout the United States and Europe with companies including the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Opera, Opera Columbus, Opera on the James, Opera Providence, Opera Boston, Cape Cod Opera, MetroWest Opera, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Flagstaff in Fidenza, and New England Conservatory Opera in productions including The Merry Widow, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Carmen, Le nozze di Figaro, Little Women, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica and Cosi fan tutte. With Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Ms. Schmiege just sang her first Violetta in February. Ever active in oratorio and new music, she has sung premiers in Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall and The Julliard School as well as with the Mainly Mozart Festival.

Tenor Christopher Lucier is in increasing demand as an operatic and concert artist.  During the 2012-13 season alone, he appeared in Don Pasquale (Ernesto) with Cape Cod Opera, La Traviata (Alfredo) with Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) and Carmen (Remendado) with Connecticut Lyric Opera, and Cenerentola (Ramiro) with Salt Marsh Opera. Previous opera credits include Otello (Roderigo), Rigoletto (Il Duca), L’enfant Prodigue (Azael), Le Nozze Di Figaro (Don Basilio) and Hoiby’s Summer And Smoke (Roger Doremus).  

Mezzo-soprano Brooke Larimer just returned from Hungary’s Armel Festival where she sang the role of Aunt Sadie in the European premiere of William Mayer's A Death in the Family. Other recent engagements include Flora in the Northshore Music Festival’s La Traviata; Ursule in Opera Boston’s Béatrice et Bénédic; Dritte Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Emilia in Verdi's Otello and Mercédès in Carmen, all with Connecticut Lyric Opera; Mrs. Soames in Rorem’s Our Town with Raylynmor Opera Company; Jenny in Weill’s The Threepenny Opera with Commonwealth Opera and Hansel in Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel with Longwood Opera. 

This year, Patrick McNally made his debut with Tri-Cities Opera as Marcello in La Bohème and then performed the roles of Alfio and Silvio in a double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Mr. McNally most recently made his international debut with the Neue Eutiner Festspiele and was winner of the Shoshana Foundation Award. Other opera companies with which Mr. McNally has performed include Dayton Opera, Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera New Jersey and Des Moines Metro Opera.

Upcoming concerts in the Bel Canto Series feature a program entitled Art Songs from Latin America performed by mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna and pianist Max Lifchitz on October 29, the return of Hubbard Hall Opera Theatre for a condensed piano production of Carmen on February 2 and a performance by soprano Amanda Boyd on April 27. The series will also include the ENY-NATS Art Song Festival on November 1-3 as well as master classes and meet-the-artist sessions with Ms. Tonna (Oct. 28) and Ms. Boyd (April 26).

Tickets are $10 for the general public and $5 for students, seniors & UAlbany faculty/staff and may be purchased through the Performing Arts Center Box Office.  For further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.