BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Islanders rejoice! Opera director Fenlon Lamb has packed up her trailer full of her Papermoon Opera Production sets and costumes, some spotlights and props, tossed in some world class talents, including a home-grown soprano and is bringing the whole shebang to the Criterion stage, Friday, July 19, for a fully-staged Bar Harbor Music Festival performance of Bizet’s opera “Carmen.”
“This will be an amazing production,” Lamb, who sang the title role here 11 years ago, enthused. In our long acquaintance, this is the most effusive Fenlon I have ever encountered. She is clearly over the moon about the cast she has scored for this one time only performance.
“Audrey Babcock is the Carmen of her generation,” Lamb exclaimed. “She has performed the role more than100 times, right out of conservatory. She knows the role in her bones… It has been such a pleasure to work with her.
“Adam Diegel, our love struck Don Jose, is a powerhouse from the Met and what’s more he’s tall,” she continued. “An unusual thing for a tenor and the chemistry between these two is sizzling.”
Most of the other roles are also filled with world class stars. Richard Ollarsaba, who will sing the bullfighter, Escamillo, just competed in the prestigious Cardiff Singer of the World Competition last month in Wales — one of only 15 finalist in the world. Janinah Burnett, whom MDI audiences will remember from her many Music Fest opera roles and Pops concerts, and is currently singing Carlotta in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, will be singing the spurned maiden, Michäela.
In fact, Lamb says, Burnett is jetting in for this Criterion performance on Friday, and jetting back in time for the Saturday performance of Phantom.
April Martin, who performed Gretel last year will be Frasquita. Joshua Jeremiah, another powerhouse baritone, and Jason Ferrante, an amazing character tenor, are taking on the other male roles.
But that’s not all, folks. Joining this cast of international opera stars on the Criterion stage, will be MDI High School grad Annie Leonardi. She will perform the role of Mercedes, a companion of Carmen. David Schildkret, who directs the Mount Desert Summer Chorale, will be reprising his role as the soldier Zuniga. His wife Sue will be in the chorus and join the dancing. Oh yes, there will be dancing.
As ever, Lamb says, music director Cara Chowing will accompany on piano, and has brought in some of her students from Ball State University as choristers.
Those who attended last year’s visually stunning performance of “Hansel and Gretel” will be thrilled to learn that Lamb has once again brought on her team of Papermoon Opera Productions designers to create another impressive and evocative set and costumes, many of them created from paper. For Carmen, she says, a recurring motif will be tarot cards.
Lamb’s new production company has been so successful this past year, she has left her academic job, and now spends her time and energy doing what she loves, creating and directing opera productions and taking them on the road to venues throughout the country. Her next projects will be “Madame Butterfly” and an Art Deco version of “Don Giovanni.”
Those who recall the Bar Harbor Music Festival’s first, let’s say, primitive opera productions should be forever grateful that Lamb continues to make The Bar Harbor Music Festival and the Criterion a stop along the way.
Visit www.barharbormusicfestival.org or call 288-5744.