Una Festa Siciliana: The Performers

NWLACC’s fifth annual gala, Una Festa Siciliana, will take place on October 17th at a private residence on Sunlight Beach, Whidbey Island.  The event will feature the considerable talents of tenor Frank Poretta and soprano Jennifer Poretta, whose belief in NWLA’s mission encouraged them to travel from New York to offer a program of Neopolitan art song and operatic selections on a Sicilian theme, as well as a thrilling return performance by NWLACC favorite mezzo-sporano Eleni Matos, whose continuing collaboration with us testifies to her passion for our work. Below, read a bit about these outstanding artists, and take a listen to some of what’s in store.

FRANK PORRETTA

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Frank Porretta has gained international recognition as an important lirico spinto tenor with appearances in leading theaters including the Metropolitan Opera, Berlin State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Hamburg State Opera, SemperOper Dresden, Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Opera National de Paris, Teatro Real, Madrid, Teatro Regio di Torino, Opera Australia, and many others. He has also been heard in North America at the Seattle Opera, Baltimore Opera, San Diego Opera, Opera Pacific, Miami Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Canadian Opera Company and the Cincinnati Opera. Porretta’s repertoire includes some of the most demanding roles in the tenor literature. He has won special acclaim as Calaf in Turandot, which was the role of his Metropolitan Opera debut, as well as in the title role of Verdi’s Otello. His other roles have included Don Carlo, Don Alvaro in La Forza del Destino, Radames in Aida, Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci, Cavaradossi in Tosca, Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West and the title role in Andrea Chenier. Among his most recent additions to his repertoire are Samson in Samson et Dalila in Pittsburgh, Luigi in Il Tabarro at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Pollione in Norma in Baltimore, and the title role in Don Carlo for his debut in Cincinnati.

Watch Mr. Poretta sing “Nessum Dorma” as Calaf in Turandot:

JENNIFER PORRETTA

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Jennifer Porretta is an accomplished soprano who has been described as “a youthful artist amazingly musically mature for her age.” (The Record) As a soloist, she has sung throughout Western and Eastern Europe and North America. Her operatic roles include many of opera’s greatest heroines including the title roles in Tosca, Madam Butterfly, and Suor Angelica.  A frequent guest artist in New York City and beyond, her performances there have included Suor Angelica (Empire Opera, Opera Company of Brooklyn, Crystal Opera), Rosalinda in Die Flebermaus (Manhattan Lyric Opera, Simsbury Light Opera), Leonora in Il Trovatore (Bel Canto Opera), Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera (Opera Company of Brooklyn, St. Gregory Concert Series), Giorgetta in Il Tabarro (Empire Opera), Desdemona in Otello (Danbury Opera), and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro (Amore Opera). A versatile artist, Ms. Porretta has also appeared in oratorios, recitals, and off-Broadway, and is also an accomplished pianist.

See Ms. Porretta in a performance of Suor Angelica below:

ELENI MATOS

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Eleni Matos has received universal acclaim and been hailed as a winner in an unprecedented 34 of today’s most coveted vocal competitions (more than any classical singer), including the Maria Callas International competition of Greece, the Luciano Pavarotti International competition, and the Queen Elisabeth International competition of Belgium. Miss Matos has sung throughout the world under the batons of such renowned conductors as Daniel Bareboim, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Slatkin. Past engagements include: Carmen with Akron Symphony and Lyric Opera of San Antonio, a reprise of the PBS special Defiant (Verdi) Requiem in Washington DC, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with Spokane Symphony and The National Chorale at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and the Verdi Requiem with The National Chorale at Lincoln Center and Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The Polish National Opera has chosen Miss Matos as their Marguerite for the world European premiere of the new Achim Freyer co-production with Los Angeles Opera of Berlioz La Damnation de Faust. This gala 200th Berlioz anniversary celebration marks Miss Matos’ European opera debut. Among Miss Matos’ orchestral appearances are Strauss’ Elektra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. She has performed in numerous concerts throughout the US and Europe with such orchestras as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, I Fiamminnghi, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie, Noordhollands Phillharmonishch Orkest, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Wallonie, and Virtuosi di Praga. Enriched by her strong Greek-American heritage, she was honored to sing the Verdi Requiem at the foot of Acropolis at Greece’s 1999 week-long remembrance of Maria Callas. Miss Matos’ debut recording of Haydn arias can be heard on the ERI label.

Listen to Miss Matos perform Gluck’s “Che faro senza Euridice”:

And see a short video about Miss Matos’s performance of the rediscovered German composer Louise Gregor’s art songs, co-produced by NWLACC earlier this year:

NWLA is committed to providing Whidbey Island and surrounding communities with cross-cultural experiences and global education, including world cuisine, diverse performances, foreign language classes for adults and children, exchange programs, and summer camps—all at an affordable cost. Fundraisers like the annual gala event make it possible for NWLA to ensure that these valuable cross-cultural experiences are available to all members of our community.

For more information, or to purchase tickets to the gala, please contact 360-321-2101 or e-mail [email protected]. Overnight accommodations are available at NWLA’s Guesthouse; please inquire.