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Opera at USC opens the season with La Périchole on November 6

The opéra-bouffe has been called Jacques Offenbach’s most charming score

Captivating comedic characters, delightful music and engaging romantic intrigues. That’s what patrons will experience at Opera at USC’s first production of the season – La Périchole (The Street Singer). The opéra-bouffe takes place at Longstreet Theater Friday, November 6 and Saturday, November 7 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, November 8 at 3:00 p.m.

The score has been called Jacques Offenbach's most charming, providing an exotic backdrop with boleros, seguidillas (old Castilian folksong and dance form in quick triple time) and gallops (lively ballroom dance in duple time, popular in the late 18th century).  La Périchole is considered one of Offenbach's best scores; it contains an abundance of fine melodies, lively action and wit, inventive harmonies and orchestral writing, and effective theatrics.

The story concerns Périchole and Piquillo, two impoverished Peruvian street-singers, too poor to afford a marriage license, and a lecherous viceroy, Don Andrès de Ribeira, who wishes to make Périchole his mistress. What ensues is a love story with winsome characterizations and comic dilemmas.  

Opéra bouffe is a genre of late 19th-century French operetta, closely associated with Jacques Offenbach, who produced many of them at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens. The lyrics, based on Le Carosse du Saint-Sacrament by Prosper Mérimée, are by Ludovic Halévy and Henri Meilhac who were also the librettists for Georges Bizet’s Carmen.  

The work premiered to much acclaim in a two-act version in October 1868 at the Théâtre des Variétés, Paris. La Périchole was later expanded by the composer, and Opera at USC will be performing his 1874 revised and enlarged version in three acts.

Offenbach, a German transplant to his beloved city of Paris, was responsible for the creation and popularization of the French operetta. After his famous and highly successful Orphee d'Enfers, comic operas and parodies of established composers of grand opera became the vogue. Only later in his career did Offenbach turn to composing works that were independent of parody and satiric wit. With La Périchole, he strikes a sentimental and lighthearted tone.    

La Périchole is directed by Garnett R. Bruce who has been lauded for his craftsmanship – “nearly flawless” (San Francisco Opera’s Der Rosenkavalier, 2007), “authentically rendered” (Madison Opera’s La Traviata, 2011), and “impeccable” (Utah Opera’s Carmen, 2010).

Bruce directs productions all over the country – Madame Butterfly in Salt Lake City, Pagliacci in Florida, Turandot in San Francisco – and beyond. He also teaches at the Peabody Institute and the Aspen Music Festival. His rich body of work includes opera companies across the country such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, and Houston Grand Opera, and his European opera debut staging Turandot for the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples.

His award-winning production of La Cenerentola for Kansas City has traveled to Austin, Orlando and Madison, and his work with Wolf Trap Opera has included La Clemenza di Tito and Street Scene. Known especially for his large-scale work of the standard repertoire, his stagings of Turandot, Carmen, Tosca, Aida, Pagliacci and La bohème have been seen coast to coast.

Ellen Douglas Schlaefer is director of Opera Studies. Neil Casey conducts USC’s Campus Orchestra.

Tickets on sale now

$25 general admission; $20 seniors, USC faculty/staff, military; $7 students.
Call 803-777-5369, email, or online. PLEASE NOTE! Online and phone tickets for Opera at USC's La Perichole are closed as of 3:00 Nov. 6. Tickets are available at the door one hour before the performance.

Coming up next at Opera at USC

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville)
Gioachino Rossini
Friday and Saturday, February 26, 27, 2016 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 28, 2016 – 3:00 p.m.
Drayton Hall

Lanny and Sidney Palmer One-Act Opera Series:
Speed Dating Tonight!

Michael Ching
Saturday, April 9, 2016 – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, April 10, 2016 – 3:00 p.m.
School of Music Recital Hall– FREE

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