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When love triangles collide, how does true love prevail?

Opera at USC presents Mozart’s comic La Finta Giardiniera Nov. 3–5

If you thought modern romance was complicated, come see what happens when love triangles collide in Mozart’s La finta giardiniera. Opera at USC presents the fully staged comic opera with live orchestra, sung in Italian with English supertitles. Director David C. Toulson sets the opera in and around a 1920s Hollywood movie studio.

A double love triangle, murder, disguise, romance and jealousy set the pace for the farcical opera and proves anything can happen in the early days of Hollywood – and in a Mozart opera! The story focuses on a formerly engaged aristocratic couple finding their way back to each other. To do this, they must overcome their past troubles while trying to free themselves from the jealousies and intrigues of their current romantic entanglements. 

The production opens Friday, November 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Drayton Hall Theatre on the University of South Carolina campus (1214 College St). Additional performances take place Saturday at 7:30 pm. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Returning to USC as guest director, USC alum David Carl Toulson relishes the process of taking a show from the score to the stage, leaving his mark on the grandest of art forms. He is consistently praised for his ability to transform an opera’s characters into living breathing people and for his clarity in storytelling. It is these attributes that allow him to create fresh and exciting productions that capture the imaginations of his audience. Toulson is currently the resident stage director at the Miami Music Festival where this past summer he directed Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen, Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and Act 1 of Wagner’s Die Walküre to much critical acclaim. At the conclusion of this production Toulson will join the staging staff at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for productions of Turandot and Così fan tutte.

USC’s Neil Casey conducts members of the USC Symphony Orchestra, Lynn Kompass is vocal coach, Alexis Doktor is costume designer, Barry Sparks is lighting designer, and scenery is designed by Teddy R. Moore. Cast members are: Michael T. Brown and Amos Warren (double cast) as Don Anchise, Esther Kim Ruder and Margaret Van Norden (double cast) as Marchesa Violante Onesti, Johnnie J. Felder as Count Belfiore, Melanie Piercy and Alicia Renney (double cast) as Arminda, Katelyn Tesla as Cavalier Ramiro, Evy Johnson and AnnaBelle Lusk (double cast) as Serpetta, and Ramelle Brooks and James Siarris (double cast) as Roberto.

University of South Carolina’s Ellen Douglas Schlaefer directs Opera Studies, a comprehensive program for both graduate and undergraduate students that covers every facet of opera production, both on stage and behind the scenes. USC is one of only a handful of colleges and universities nationwide that offers special training and practice for aspiring opera stage directors. Opera at USC presents two fully staged operas with orchestra and The Lanny & Sidney Palmer One Act Series each year.

Tickets on sale now

Adults: $25; seniors/USC faculty & staff/military: $20; students with ID: $7
Purchase tickets online at, call 803-777-5369, or purchase at the door. Please note that online and phone sales end at 3 p.m. on opening day. After that you may purchase at the door one hour before show.

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