Rossini's WILLIAM TELL at Wichita Grand Opera - Feb. 22, 2014

Sunday, November 3 2013 11:00 PM
October 24, 2013
Parvan Bakardiev, General Director Margaret Ann Pent, Artistic Director
Century II Performing Arts Center, 225 W. Douglas Ave., Wichita, KS 67202

Contact: Tony Applegate Tel: 316.262.8054 Email:

Rossini's "WILLIAM TELL" at WGO
The only U.S. production this season.

Wichita Grand Opera announces its new production of Gioachino Rossini’s masterpiece, William Tell on February 22, 2014 at 7pm in the Century II Concert Hall. Familiar to contemporary audiences mainly through its overture’s use as the Lone Ranger theme, the full opera was so successful – and such a monumental achievement – that Rossini retired from opera-writing and did not lift his pen again for the following 40 years.

In spite of its enormous popularity, glorious music, and gripping plot, only the “William Tell Overture” has maintained a presence in the concert hall as an orchestral showpiece. The rest of the opera is virtually unknown to modern audiences. Most companies regard the work as either too difficult or too expensive to perform. If performed in its entirety, William Tell is nearly four hours of Rossini’s most brilliant music. Wichita Grand Opera’s production, though, is conceptually based on the San Antonio Festival’s 1984 production – which was also produced by Mr. Parvan Bakardiev, now the President and CEO of Wichita Grand Opera. The production has been carefully shortened to just 2 ½ hours of music without damaging the spirit of the opera either musically or dramatically.

The Metropolitan Opera last performed William Tell in 1931. In the 82 years since that performance, it has been produced just three times in the United States. As mentioned previously, the first production in modern times took place at the San Antonio Festival of 1984. Newsweek’s Alan Rich wrote of that production, “There were few better places to be these last few weeks than the state of Texas, where the energetic San Antonio Festival offered Rossini’s Texas-size heroic masterpiece, William Tell, in its first professional American staging in more than 50 years.” A full-length video of that production is available on YouTube. The second, at San Francisco Opera, was produced in 1992 and revived in 1998. Now, in 2014, Wichita Grand Opera will create a third new American production of William Tell.

Mr. Bakardiev commented, “It’s a thrill to have a second chance to produce an opera like William Tell. Our San Antonio production had a formidable cast and launched a lot of major careers. This year we have assembled another great cast at Wichita Grand Opera, and William Tell is as grand as opera gets.”

Already well-known to critics for his “strapping physique and powerful, yet seductive voice,” baritone Lucas Meachem makes his WGO debut in the title role of William Tell. Most recently, Mr. Meachem co-starred on a tour of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta with Anna Netrebko in Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Paris, and many other arts capitals. He is also a frequent leading baritone at Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, the Paris Opera, and the Met, where critics have called him “vocally faultless and a natural actor.”

Only a handful of tenors in the world can sing the incredibly demand role of Arnold Melchtal. Even the great Adolphe Nourrit, for whom Rossini specifically wrote the role, had difficulty singing it. Fortunately for WGO fans, critics say that American tenor Michael Spyres may be the best Arnold around. After his most recent performance in the role, at the Wildbad Rossini Festival, one critic gushed, “Not only does he tackle the extreme top range – numerous high Cs and C-sharps – absolutely smoothly, he also possesses the penetrating voice of a young hero. And on top he is a most subtle actor.” Mr. Spyres has also sung leading roles at Berlin State Opera, the Dresden Opera, La Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.

European diva Zvetelina Vassileva, known for her performances of all of Verdi and Puccini’s leading roles, in houses such as the Met, San Francisco Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Berlin State Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, returns to the WGO for a new challenge: the role of Mathilde, the Habsburg princess. Ms. Vassileva is widely regarded as the successor to her mentor, the legendary Raina Kaivanska. She has starred opposite singers such as Johan Botha, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Roberto Aronica, and conductors such as Daniel Oren, Marco Armiliato, and Nicola Luisotti, among many others. Ms. Vassileva will return later this season in her signature role: Tosca.

The rest of the ensemble includes Suzanne Hendrix as Hedwig, Alyssa Toepfer as Jemmy, William Powers as Melchtal, Diego Baner as Gesler, Nicholas Masters as Walter Furst, Christopher Trapani as Ruodi, Michael Nansel as Leuthold, and Patrick Greene as Rudolphe.

Wichita Grand Opera’s new production will be directed by award-winning stage director Chuck Hudson. Based in New York City, Mr. Hudson has directed opera productions at major international companies including Minnesota Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, and many others. Also renowned for his work with artists in training, Mr. Hudson co-founded Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program, and has worked with many other prestigious young artist programs. Additionally, he is one of just three Americans to receive a diploma from the Marcel Marceau International School of Mimedrama, and performed with Marceau on his 1991 European Tour and in Klaus Kinski’s film Paganini. Mr. Hudson’s many awards include recognition by the French Ministry of Culture and Foreign Affairs, the National Opera Association, and the Seattle Times.

Multi-talented European conductor Nayden Todorov will take the podium for this production. His conducting has been a revelation in Vienna, Israel, and Bulgaria, where he currently serves as Music Director and General Manager of State Opera Rousse. Maestro Todorov commands a vast repertoire, and is one of the most recorded European conductors, with more than 100 recordings on labels including Naxos, Danacord, Gega Music, Hungaroton, and Balkanton. Mr. Todorov also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Sofia National Philharmonic and the Sofia National Opera and Ballet. He made his American debut in Wichita Grand Opera’s 2006 production of Tosca, the professional Kansas debut of renowned Kansas-native bass Samuel Ramey, with Annalisa Raspagliosi in the title role.

Mr. Todorov’s assistant conductor and principal coach for this production is Tyson Deaton. Mr. Deaton recently made his debut on the podium at Fort Worth Opera, conducting their critically-acclaimed production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, which was released on CD in August 2013 by Albany Records.

Sets for William Tell will be designed by noted European scenic artist Stefan Pavlov, who has served as resident designer for Sofia National Opera. His designs have been seen in more than five hundred performances in opera houses throughout Spain, Germany, France, and the U.S.

Tickets on sale now!

Tickets for Wichita Grand Opera’s new production of William Tell are available now, and Early Bird pricing – savings of 10% on all single tickets – runs through December 1, 2013.

Tickets are also available as part of Season Subscriptions at savings of up to 20% off full ticket price. Subscriptions for any three performances of your choice are available for as low as $90.

  Single Tickets Best Better Good
  Early Bird Tickets – Save 10%
          On sale Oct. 7 thru Dec. 1, 2013
$77 $52 $32
  Regular Price Tickets - On sale starting Dec. 2, 2013 $85 $58 $35

  Season Subscriptions: On sale now! Best Better Good
  Plan A – Full Season (all 5 productions) – Save 20% $340 $232 $140
  Plan B – Pick Four – Save 17% $282 $192 $116
  Plan C – Pick Three – Save 14% $219 $150 $90

To purchase tickets call the Wichita Grand Opera Box Office.
316.262.8054 or go online at

For more information, visit


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