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A Diamond Celebration

September 20, 2013 - Phyllis Sigal
At 75 years, Pittsburgh Opera is the eighth oldest opera company in the country, and Audrey Ciripompa of Wheeling is one of its long-time supporters.

In fact, at a gathering Thursday night in Wheeling at the home of Michael Hires and Jay Frey, who is an opera board member, Christopher Hahn, general director, joked that she first started going to the opera by horse and buggy.

Other long-time opera supporters from the area in attendance at the event were Manuel and Rosalia Viola of Wheeling. Manny and Rosalia have been organizing bus trips from Wheeling to the opera for decades.

Hahn presented both Audrey and the Violas with a book about the Pittsburgh opera, to thank them for their support over the years.

Hahn gave us a synopsis of the opera's upcoming 75th season.

To honor the 75 years of opera, a black-tie Diamond Horseshoe Ball will be held on Oct. 11 at the Omni William Penn Hotel.

The next night, Oct. 12, is the opening night performance of Verdi's "Aida."

The season also includes two more classics, Mozart's "The Magic Flute," and Puccini's "La Boheme."

Three new operas to be presented include, Nico Muhly's "Dark Sisters," Philip Glass' "Orphee" and the Second Stage Project, "Paul's Case," by Gregory Spears, based on a story by Willa Cather.

Thursday, we were privileged to hear the absolutely gorgeous soprano voice of Jasmine Muhammad, one of the opera's resident artists, accompanied on keyboard by Mark Trawka, chorus master and director of musical studies.

She gave a preview of a number from "La Boheme" and sang "Summertime" from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess."

Wheeling audiences will have a chance to hear Jasmine with the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra at the Feb. 21 Pops II: Rhapsody 'n Brew night of Gershwin.

Hahn is excited about the joint venture with the Wheeling Symphony, and hopes that, in turn, Ohio Valley music lovers, will travel to Pittsburgh to help celebrate the opera's 75 years.

In fact, those who do will recognize many of the opera orchestra members who also are members of the Wheeling Symphony.

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