|William Florescu, Florentine Opera General Director|
This is a unique and exciting Florentine Opera recording. Carlisle Floyd’s Wuthering Heights, an unjustly neglected American gem, made its Florentine debut in this world premiere recording. This performance marked the premiere for a full-length Florentine Opera concert production on the Harris Theater Stage of the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts. We had the honor of welcoming Carlisle Floyd to guide this exceptional creative team and shape the concert and recording. Noele Stollmack (director of design and production), conductor Joseph Mechavich (conductor for the Florentine productions of La Traviata 2013 and Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah 2012), Blanton Alspaugh and John Newton, along with all of the production engineers and recording specialists from SoundMirror assembled their talents to bring this premiere recording and concert to life—for live audiences and the world to experience.
We are blessed to have an extraordinary cast, headed by an exceptionally talented duo, Soprano Georgia Jarman (Elettra in Idomeneo, 2012; Marie in La Fille du Regiment, 2006; Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, 2008; Gilda in Rigoletto, 2010) as Catherine with Baritone Kelly Markgraf making his Florentine debut as Heathcliff. Soprano Heather Buck (Valencienne in The Merry Widow, 2007; Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, 2009; and Lulu Baines in the two-time Grammy Winner (Elmer Gantry, 2010) returns to the Florentine as Isabel, with Tenor Vale Rideout (Frank Shallard in Elmer Gantry, 2010) returning as her brother, Edgar. Tenor Chad Shelton makes his Florentine debut as Hindley. Acclaimed Mezzo-soprano Suzanne Mentzer (Rosina in The Barber of Seville, 1984) returns to the Florentine stage as Nelly, and Tenor Frank Kelley (Spoletta in Tosca, 2009; Eddie Fislinger in Elmer Gantry, 2010; Pang in Turandot, 2011; and Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro, 2013) sings the role of Joseph. The Florentine Opera Chorus and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra help reveal Floyd’s ingenious orchestration and richly colorful score.
Each of our mainstage productions is made possible through the support of our presenting sponsors. I would like to thank Orchestra Sponsors Marianne & Sheldon B. Lubar, Lead Artist Sponsor Nita Soref, Project Sponsors John Shannon & Jan Serr, The National Endowment for the Arts Art Works and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music for their generous support of this concert and recording project. The Florentine is blessed to have a wonderful Board of Directors, headed by President Mark Cameli. I am so grateful for their support, as well as that of the Florentine Opera’s Aria Society, and some of the most generous donors in our community. The United Performing Arts Fund plays such an important role in Milwaukee for all of the performing arts, so great thanks is due to them as well.