15 Highlights of 2015 – Opera in the Rock and ASO presented THE MAGIC FLUTE

680 Magic Flute LogoFully-staged, full-length opera returned to the Rock for the first time in over a decade tonight and tomorrow!

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, in partnership with Opera In The Rock, opens the 2014-2015 Intimate Neighborhood Concerts series with Mozart’s Magic Flute. Performances were on January 22 and Friday January 23 at the Albert Pike Masonic Center in downtown Little Rock.  Dancers from Arkansas Festival Ballet also appear in the performances which is stage directed by Robert Hupp, Producing Artistic Director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) was written during the last year of Mozart’s life (1791). The opera was composed in the style of Singspiel (using sung and spoken text) and was an outlet for Mozart’s Masonic belief.

Magic Flute was an immediate success, performed over 100 times in the first two years of its existence. Mozart was not alive to see the 100th performance, having died only months after the premiere.

Tickets are $25; active duty military and student tickets are $10 are can be purchased online ; at the Albert Pike Masonic Center beginning 60 minutes prior to the concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100.  The Friday performance is sold out, but tickets remain for tonight’s opening.

Dana Pundt, Queen of the Night
Nicholas Nelson, Sarastro
Darren Drone, Papageno
Genevieve West Fulks, Papagena
Vernon DiCarlo, Tamino
Bonnie Frauenthal, Pamina

Others in the cast include Maria Fasciano DiCarlo, Stephanie Smittle, Kelley Ponder, Daniel Foltz-Morrison, Suzanne Banister, Kathryne Overturf, Satia Spencer, Robert Holden, Luke Frauenthal, Chase Burns and Sam Prescott

Sopranos: Alisa Dixon, Hayley Coughlin, Margaret McMurray, LaSheena Gordon
Altos: Claire Wilkinson, Melissa Wilcox, Sarah Blakey
Tenors: Adam Baldwin, Aaron Baker, Jonathan Treloggen, Josiah Wheeler, Sage Shaddox
Basses: J.J. Albrecht, Luke Frauenthal

MOZART: Die Zauberflöte, K. 620 (text by Ruth and Thomas Martin)

Creative Class of 2015: Stephanie Smittle

resized_99263-smittle-v_47-16964_t300A few weeks ago, within the space of a few days, Stephanie Smittle went from originating two roles in an opera to singing with a Klezmer band.  This shows not only her versatility, but also the wide range of music offerings in Little Rock.

A lyric soprano, she is a native of Cave Springs and  holds a Bachelor’s of Philosophy degree from Hendrix College. Comfortable in a variety of genres, Smittle composes and performs her original work with the jazz-Americana group “The Smittle Band,” sings with acclaimed metal band Iron Tongue, leads an Arkansas-music-based duo called “Stephen y Stephanie,” and performs traditional Yiddish music with the Meshugga Klezmer Band.  From venues of a few seats to several hundred, there are few stages in Little Rock on which she has not performed.

Smittle’s operatic roles include: Fiordiligi in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte” with Opera in the Ozarks, Queen Anne and Queen Elizabeth Woodville in the premiere of Karen Griebling’s “Richard III: A Crown of Roses, A Crown of Thorns,” Second Lady in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, performances with Opera in the Rock, as well as summer study in Italy as a scholar with the Oberlin Conservatory. Her oratorio performances include Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde,” Rutter’s “Requiem,” and Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem.”

Local Live tonight at South on Main features Opera in the Rock

OperaInTheRock_logo-singleskylineTonight at 7:30 PM, join the Oxford American magazine for this week’s Local Live concert at South on Main.  This week, the series features a return of Opera in the Rock!

As always, Local Live is free and open to the public. To guarantee a table/seat for this popular series, call ahead at (501) 244-9660.

Join Opera in The Rock at South on Main for mid-week of “October Opera Days” with five great Opera In The Rock  artists.  In a program titled “Opera in a Bar” arranged by OITR Artistic Director, Arlene Biebesheimer, these artists will sing opera standards with some musical theater thrown in to keep you entertained. The OITR ensemble for Local Live includes Stephanie Smittle, LaSheena Gordon, Claire Wilkinson, Chase Burns, Micheal Lowe with Kristin Harwell at the piano.

Arkansas Sounds Gone By – a special Butler Center Legacies and Lunch today at noon

arkansas_swingerToday at noon in the CALS Darragh Center, “Arkansas Sounds Gone By” will be a special musical Legacies & Lunch program.  It will showcase songs about Arkansas or written by people from the state, drawn from the Butler Center’s Ron Robinson Sheet Music Collection.

Musical guests – including David Austin, Bob Boyd, Susan Gele, Dent Gitchel, Richard Hunter, Herb Rule, Stephanie Smittle, George West, and others – will perform songs from the famous fiddle tune “Arkansas Traveler” to Arkansas native Floyd Cramer’s big hit “Last Date.” Vocalists will be accompanied by piano and fiddle.

Learn about the remarkable variety of songs from or about Arkansas, about the extraordinary music collection donated by Ron Robinson, and about the Tin Pan Alley songwriters who created songs about Arkansas without ever visiting the state.

Legacies & Lunch, the Butler Center’s monthly lecture series, is free, open to the public, and supported in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Programs are held from noon-1 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. Attendees are invited to bring a sack lunch; drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, contact 918-3033.

Meshugga Klezmer Band tonight at The Studio Theatre

klezmerCome hear Arkansas’s premiere (maybe only) klezmer ensemble!!!

It all begins tonight at 7:30 pm at The Studio Theatre. For only a $10 cover, experience the joy of Meshugga Klezmer Band (Meshugga.org)

Meshugga Klezmer Band was formed in Little Rock in 1999 and has performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, for bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, and at Jewish food festivals, Juanita’s Cantina, Wildwood Park, the Afterthought Lounge, Acoustic Sounds Café, and private parties.  They have played on the stage of both the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium and the Ron Robinson Theater.

Klezmer music has eastern European Jewish folk roots and is characterized by the cantorial, vocal, often crying style reminiscent of Jewish prayer. Like the cantor, the lead musicians sob, laugh, and slide from note to note.

The musicians include:

  • Jim Harper: clarinet
  • Izzy Getzov: violin
  • Stephanie Smittle: vocals
  • Rand Retzloff: drums
  • Peter Miller: guitar
  • Casey Huie: Trombone
  • Roland Gladen: bass


Scenes from new opera on Richard III to premiere on Saturday, August 22

R3 OperaScenes from a new opera will premiere on Saturday evening in downtown Little Rock.  Composer Karen Griebling’s third opera Richard III: A Crown of Roses, a Crown of Thorns will be performed at 7:30pm at Christ Episcopal Church.

The performance will take place on the 530th anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field.  The scenes will be under the direction of conductor Geoffrey Robson. Timothy Allen is the répétiteur.

The cast features: Matthew K. Tatus, tenor, as Richard III and Kara Claybrook, soprano as Princess Elizabeth of York.  Other roles are performed by sopranos Jaimee Nicole Jensen and Arlene Barkley Biebesheimer; lyric soprano Stephanie Smittle; mezzo soprano Hannah Smashey; tenors Chase H. Burns and Daniel Foltz-Morrison; baritones Ronald McDaniel II, Robert Holden, Andrew Morgan and Jerry Biebesheimer; bass/baritone Phillip J. Murray; and bass George Mayo.

In addition to writing operas, Griebling is a violist with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Cross Town Trio, and Professor of Music at Hendrix College, Griebling founded and conducts the Hendrix College Chamber Orchestra and teaches music theory, composition, and world music.  She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Texas. http://www.karengriebling-composer.info

Tonight – UALR Songwriter Showcase featuring Tara Johnson and others

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will feature alumna Tara Johnson and current student performers in its biannual Songwriters Showcase at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 2, in Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall in the Fine Arts Building.

The program is free and open to the public. Parking will be available in Lot 8 behind the Fine Arts Building.

The first half of the program, sponsored by the Music Department and Office of Campus Life, will feature works by UALR students and songwriters from the community.

Students performers include Heather Smith, Sara Hastings, Robert Lee, Daysha Carr, Susan Robbins, Paula Smith, Stephanie Smittle, and Samuel Byrd.

Johnson, a UALR visiting artist, will perform six of her original Christian songs during the second part of the program including “Walking In Wonderland” and “December’s Songbird.”

Johnson, a native of Alexander, is an author, singer, and songwriter signed with Incubator Creative Group. She has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio and Enduring Word radio.

In 2014, Tara wrote the Vacation Bible School music for Bogard Press and was a contributing judge in the 2015 Live It Loud Songwriting Contest in Nashville.

Learn more about Johnson’s music at www.reverbnation.com/tarajohnson.