Opera In the Park – Acis & Galatea

Opera In The Park – Acis & Galatea

The Duluth Festival Opera is excited to present open-air opera free to the people of the region to celebrate our fifth anniversary. With the help of generous grants from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Minnesota Power Foundation, and the Lloyd K. Johnson Foundation, we are able to bring in our celebrated performers and join with Markand Thakar and the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra to put on a performance of one of Handel’s beloved operas, Acis and Galatea.

With Leif Erikson Park as the beautiful backdrop for this production about love and loss, we’d like you to consider the words of our artistic director, Craig Fields:

A rock spring, a majestic mountain, a verdant river valley, a dead lover, the pain of loss, the power of transformation; this simple, pastoral story, taken from the eighth book of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is an uncommonly beautiful affirmation of love’s spiritually transformational power.


Many have tried to make sense out of a senseless death, but we struggle with life when it doesn’t seem reasonable or fair or just. We hate to deal with senseless tragedy because we don’t understand it. At that moment, we see only darkness and feel only pain, but after time we can often look back on that tragic ending as the simultaneous new beginning of something positive and life affirming. And with this new beginning come understanding, peace and consolation. This is the miracle of transformation that only the heart can comprehend.


The story of the opera works on two levels: On the surface, it attempts to explain the natural wonder of a rock spring that flows from the foot of Mt. Aetna to feed a verdant river valley. Beyond this, however, it depicts the love story of two young innocents, the tragic murder of the young shepherd boy by a jealous, monstrous one-eyed, Cyclops who becomes his rival in loving Galatea; followed by a miraculous transformation born out of Galatea’s pure love.


This is love, romance, tragedy and a miracle rolled into one compact hour of music-theater and dance. It illuminates the power of Handel, the composer, to inspire the human spirit in his melodic garden of delights.


Delightful music, bel canto singing, summer’s evening glow, an uplifting story that turns tragedy into a lesson about loving and being loved.

Joined by the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra under the musical direction of Markand Thakar, this “opera gift” from the DFO to the community is the centerpiece of our programming for this festival season. Please join us for this family-friendly performance — a one-of-a-kind chance in Duluth to catch a professionally presented opera performance, free of charge, along the shores of Lake Superior, as a beautiful musical finale to the summer. Food and beverages from Valentini’s Vicino Lago will be available in the park before and during the performance.

The Performers

Penelope Shumate

In her performance career, Penelope Shumate has been described as having a “voice with power” and a “welcome fire” on stage.  After her Carnegie Hall debut as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana, she returned to the historic venue to perform the work for a second time.  Other Carnegie Hall appearances include solo performances in the Messiah,
St. Nicolai Mass and Coronation Mass.  Also in New York, she performed the title role of Naughty Marietta in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

She has received critical acclaim for her many performances as Violetta in La Traviata:
“a convincing actress,” “youthful and very beautiful,” “an exquisite Violetta,” “always in control of her powerful and supple voice,” “a beautiful vocal and dramatic performance from start to finish.”
She has been equally praised for her many other roles including Musetta in La Bohème, Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte, Galatea in Acis and Galatea, and Hanna in The Merry Widow.

For the 2011/12 season, she returns for her sixth appearance with Opera on the James as Marie in La Fille du Régiment.  She will also return to her hometown in Virginia to debut with the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.  In the east coast premier of Three Decembers, she returns to Center City Opera Theater for her fourth appearance, singing the role of Bea for the 2010/11 season.  Returning to the Duluth Festival Opera for her third appearance, she will sing the title role in Acis and Galatea.  She will also debut with the Baltimore Concert Opera in the role of Musetta in La Bohème.  Debuting with the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, she will sing the role of Adele in excerpts from Die Fledermaus. Returning for her seventh appearance with the Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra, she will be the Soprano Soloist in Elijah.  For the 2009/10 season, she returned for her fifth appearance at Carnegie Hall as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana with Distinguished Concerts International of New York City with Grammy award-winning conductor, Vance George.  She also debuted with the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus as the Soprano Soloist in the Messiah.  With Annapolis Opera, she debuted in “Gifts from Grand Opera.”  Returning to ConcertOpera Philadelphia for her third appearance, she performed Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail.   She also performed in an Opera Gala for the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation for the third year in a row.  For her sixth appearance with the Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra, she performed as the Soprano Soloist in Haydn’s Theresienmesse.  Returning to Schola Cantorum, in her home state of Virginia, she performed as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana.

Recent performances also include Violetta in La Traviata with both Opera on the James and Duluth Festival Opera.  Also with Opera on the James, she performed the role of Musetta in La Bohème and performed as a soloist in “Opera Cabaret”. Her recent debut with the Berkshire Choral Festival as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was described as “magnificent” and “effortless.” Returning to Carnegie Hall, she performed as the Soprano Soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and in Haydn’s St. Nicolai Mass.  With the Baltimore Opera, she performed in a concert of Cole Porter favorites and well as two other opera concerts.  In Philadelphia, she performed as the Soprano Soloist for both Bach’s and Vivaldi’s Magnificat with the Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra.  She was also delighted to return to her hometown of Waynesboro, Virginia to perform as the Soprano Soloist in Elijah with Schola Cantorum.

A favorite of the Baltimore Opera, she has performed the roles of Esmeralda in The Bartered Bride, Lisa in La Sonnambula, Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, High Priestess in Aïda, Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, and the Shepherd Boy in Tannhäuser as well as numerous opera concerts.  For Opera Roanoke she has performed the roles of Galatea in Acis and Galatea, High Priestess in Aïda, Cunegonde and Gilda in excerpts of Candide and Rigoletto, and well as performing as the soloist in two other opera concerts.  She also sang the role of Cunegonde in excerpts of Candide with the Drexel University Orchestra.  She performed the role of Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte and was the soloist in two opera concerts with Opera on the James.  For the Duluth Festival Opera, she was featured as a soloist for “The Divine Divas of Opera” and two “Opera Cabaret” concerts.  She performed the roles of Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Miss Silverpeal in The Impressario, and Don Ettore in La Canterina for ConcertOpera Philadelphia.  At the Lake George Opera she performed the roles of Violetta and Donna Anna in excerpts of La Traviata and Don Giovanni.  She performed the role title role of Naughty Marietta and was the soloist in Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus with the Little Orchestra Society of New York.  For the Jacksonville Lyric Opera, she performed Hanna in The Merry Widow.  With the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, she performed the role of Violetta in La Traviata and was the Soprano Soloist for the Messiah.  She also performed as the soloist in the Messiah with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, MidAmerica Productions, the Lynchburg College Choral Union, and the Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra.   For her Carnegie Hall debut, she performed as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana for MidAmerica Productions.  She has performed as the Soprano Soloist in Mozart’s Requiem for Distinguished Concerts International of New York City and the Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra.  With the Luzerne Music Festival, she was featured in a chamber and pops concert.  She performed the Queen of the Night in excerpts from Die Zauberflöte with the Kennett Symphony Orchestra.  For Rockwell Productions, she sang the role of Magnolia in Show Boat.

Marc Schapman

Marc Schapman completed a Doctor of Music in Voice Performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  A native of Iowa, Mr. Schapman received his Bachelor of Arts from Luther College and his Master of Music from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.  His operatic credits include George Gibbs in the world premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town, Pheron in the Opera Circle of Cleveland world premiere of Thamos, King of Egypt, Des Grieux in Manon, Alfredo in La Traviata, and many others. Peter Jacobi of the Bloomington Herald Times stated, “Particularly strong was Chevalier Des Grieux, tenor Marc Schapman. To Grieux, who—despite her betrayal— loves Manon too well, he gave quality of ardor and constancy. Schapman offered a tenor capable of sturdily, repeatedly, firmly meeting and mastering obstacles of high range and volume.”  Samuel Black of the Duluth News Tribune stated, “Marc Schapman, as the young lover Alfredo (La Traviata), was the most personable actor on the stage.  He seemed energized, and genuinely upset that Violetta would treat him so casually.  At the same time, his buoyant tenor never sounded stressed, as he lyrically sang of his frustrated love from beginning to end.”  Concert appearances included Handel’s Messiah, Gounod’s St. Cecelia Mass, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater.  Previous students attend graduate schools, such as the Manhattan School of Music.  In addition, several students have been prize winners in regional, NATS, and musical theater NATS competitions.  Currently, Mr. Schapman serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he teaches Opera Literature, Song Literature, Opera Workshop, and Applied Voice.  In addition to his SIUE duties, Mr. Schapman serves as a voice teacher for Opera Theater of St. Louis’ Artists-in-Training program.

On February 22, 2010 Marc Schapman made his Carnegie Hall debut singing tenor soloist in Dr. Edwin Penhorwood’s An American Requiem.

Colyn Tvete

Colyn Tvete is a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he received his Bachelor’s degree in music. He was a first place winner in the Schubert Club competition, and the Minnesota Federation of Music clubs and is a regional finalist with the National Federation of Music. He performed in The Messiah with the Lynchburg College Choral Union in December and also sang with Opera on the James in their productions of La Traviata andPagliacci. Colyn has performed with the Minnesota Opera in their productions of Il TrovatoreRomeo & JulietteL’italiana in Algeri and Un Ballo in Maschera. Along with opera, Colyn has a love of musical theatre and has performed at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in productions such as GreaseEaster Parade and Singing in the Rain. Colyn is a native of Minnesota and resides with his wife Melanie in the Twin Cities.

Described by Opera America as “a bass of resonant richness” and by the New York Times as “a gifted young bass”, Mr. Fields was recently chosen to understudy the role of Emile de Becque in South Pacific at the Lincoln Center Theater, a Bartlett Sher-directed production which has won seven Tony Awards.

Mr. Fields was busy in 2007-08, his third season performing with the New York City Opera, singing the roles of Angelotti in Tosca, Major Domo in Vanessa and Zuniga in Carmen. Last season also included performances at Asheville Lyric Opera and Opera Company of North Carolina as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor and at Opera on the James as Colline in La Bohème. An audience favorite, Mr. Fields has been invited to return in 2009-2010 by these regional companies. He joined the New York City Opera roster in 2005-06, and the following season marked Mr. Fields’ mainstage debut as Zuniga in Carmen, a role he has reprised at New York City Opera and Princeton Festival.

In 2007 Mr. Fields created the role of John Rolfe in the world-premiere of Pocahontas, commissioned by the Virginia Arts Festival and Virginia Opera in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Of this performance, a critic wrote, “[Mr. Fields] brought a big, clear, gorgeous bass to the role … with such warmth, passion and tenderness” (Portfolio Weekly).

As an apprentice artist with the Santa Fe Opera in 2002 and 2003, he performed the roles of The Captain in Eugene Onegin, Kuligin in Katya Kabanova and one of the Accusers in Bright Sheng’s Madame Mao. Following his apprenticeships at Santa Fe Opera, he was guest soloist with the Santa Fe Symphony and Chorus in Brahms’ Ein deutches Requiem and Handel’s Messiah and for Christmas concerts with the Santa Fe Opera. He sang with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic in Mozart’s Requiem and Verdi’s Requiem and with the National Symphony Orchestra, under Leonard Slatkin, as the Fifth Jew in a concert version of Salome starring Deborah Voigt. Other concert performances include two solo recitals for Art Song of Williamsburg, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Williamsburg Choral Guild and Christmas Concerts with The Williamsburg Symphonia. His oratorio appearances include Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Christmas Oratorio, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.

After completing an undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech, Branch won the Cole and Kate Porter Memorial Scholarship to attend music school at Indiana University where he studied with Giorgio Tozzi. Upon graduation with a master’s degree, he was granted a coveted spot at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, a full-scholarship institution. He received grants to summer opera programs in Chiari, Luca and Rome, Italy. In Rome he served as an artist/faculty member for the Opera Festival di Roma, singing Don Basilio in Il Barbieri di Siviglia, which received the 2001 National Opera Association Award. Mr. Fields was the 1999 winner of the Anna Maria Saritelli-DiPanni Bel Canto Competition, took second place in the NJAPA Vocal Competition (2000) and tied for fourth place in the Liederkranz Foundation Competition (2000).

We’ll see you there. Check out our video for more information on Acis and Galatea below.


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