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An evening at the opera in Brackendale


The Brackendale Art Gallery has been home to nearly every kind of performing arts act imaginable over the past 30 years.

But next weekend marks a first - the first fully-staged opera production in the Squamish Valley.

Opera legend Giacomo Puccini's one-act opera Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica) takes to the stage at the BAG next Sunday (April 24) at 8 p.m.

The production features an all-female cast of 13 singers, led by Soula Parassidis in the title role of Sister Angelica. Parassidis, a former Orff student of Susan Senkow, recently sang the lead in the Vancouver Academy of Music Opera Studio's Die Fledermaus at the Waterfront Theatre and will be singing in the upcoming Vancouver Opera Academy production of Verdi's Masked Ball.

Joining her are Tamara Croft, who was nominated best female singer at the 2003 International Festival in Waterford, and Bonnie Dodd, a well known Vancouver soloist who has performed in numerous operas in recent years.

The production also features soprano Gwendolyn Boylan, who has sung in Squamish at several classical music concerts and with the Sea to Sky Singers, in the role of la suora Infermiera.

The production's musical director, Frank Klassen, is an internationally-recognized conductor who has worked professionally as an opera conductor since 1986. In addition to working in numerous opera houses throughout Germany, Mr. Klassen has conducted Symphony Orchestras in Europe, North and South America.

Suor Angelica is a passionate story of a young women named Angelica who is sent to a cloister by her family after bearing an illegitimate child.

After seven years, Angelica's aunt, la zia Principessa (Croft) comes to visit her - the first she has heard from her family since being sent to the cloister - to demand she sign away her inheritance. Sister Angelica insists on hearing the news of her son, but tragedy ensues when she hears of his fate.

While the source of Puccini's story is unknown, it is known that Puccini's own sister was a nun living in a cloister near his home in Torre del Lago and that he received special permission to play it at the piano for the nuns while singing all the parts himself.

Tickets for the performance are $10 and are available at the BAG and Mostly Books.

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