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IT'S VIOLINS AND VERDI IN CHAUTAUQUA'S NEW SEASON

The Chautauqua 2001 season opened Sunday morning when new president Scott McVay rapped out the traditional three taps of the gavel during the morning worship service in the Amphitheater.

Soon, the programs of Chautauqua's two major resident music organizations, the Chautauqua Symphony and Chautauqua Opera, will be launched and the Institution's nine-week season will be under full sail.

Chautauqua Symphony

Music Director Uriel Segal has chosen a mix of traditional and unusual repertoire, with the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 on opening night and John Cage's "Living Room Music" on July 12 as examples.

It will be a big year for violin lovers, with no less than six soloists on the schedule, including Gil Shaham who will play the Beethoven Concerto to close the season Aug. 21. On July 28, at the season's epicenter - and arguably its focus - Segal will conduct the extraordinary Requiem by Hector Berlioz. With its large orchestra, chorus, tenor soloist and four brass bands playing antiphonally from the corners of the Amphitheater, this wildly visionary music evokes an unworldly sense of both terror and exaltation in the "Tuba Mirum" and "Lachrymosa" sections. It is a work not to be missed.

Details of the Chautauqua Symphony's concerts, all at 8:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater with Uriel Segal conducting unless otherwise noted, are as follows:

Saturday: Pianist Alexander Korsantia in Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1, plus Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 and Creston's "Toccata."

Tuesday: Guest conductor Stuart Malina and the Chautauqua Choir in the pops concert "Let U.S. Celebrate," with music of Sousa, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky and others.

July 5: Cellist Allison Eldredge in the Lalo Concerto, plus Ravel's "Alborada del gracioso" and Haydn's Symphony No. 92 ("Oxford").

July 7: Mahler's Symphony No. 9 in D Major.

July 10: Guest conductor Akira Endo leads performance with the Chautauqua Ballet Company.

July 11 at 3 p.m.: Stuart Chafetz leads "We've Got Rhythm," an unusual "family concert" with music of Sousa, Beethoven, Mozart, John Cage and others.

July 14: Guest conductor Klauspeter Seibel and pianist Ory Shihor in Mozart's Concerto No. 27, plus Berlioz's "Corsair Overture" and excerpts from Wagner's "Ring Cycle."

July 17: Music of Handel with Jared Jacobsen in Organ Concerto, Op. 4 No. 4, Beth Robinson in Harp Concerto, Op. 4 No. 6, plus Concerto Grosso, Op. 6 No. 12 and suite from "The Water Music."

July 19: Violinist Augustin Hadelich in Brahms' Concerto, Copland's Symphony No. 3.

July 21: Guest conductor Joseph Colaneri and Chautauqua Opera Young Artists in "Viva Verdi," opera highlights.

July 24: Guest conductor Alessandro Siciliani and Prism Saxophone Quartet in William Bolcom's Concerto Grosso, plus Verdi's Overture to "La forza del destino" and excerpts from Bizet's "L'Arlesienne." July 26: Guest conductor Alessandro Siciliani and violinist Aaron Rosand in Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy," plus Sibelius' "Finlandia," Respighi's "Church Windows" and Tchaikovsky's "Capriccio Italien."

July 28: Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, tenor Theodore Green and the CSO in Berlioz's Requiem ("Grand messe des morts").

July 31: Violinist Vahn Armstrong and cellist Jolyon Pegis in Brahms' "Double Concerto," plus Mozart's Symphony No. 38 ("Prague").

Aug. 2: Pianists Pascal Roge in Mozart's Concerto No. 25 and, with pianist Vanessa Benelli, in Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos, plus Shostakovich's Symphony No. 9.

Aug. 4: Guest conductor Jack Everly and Chautauqua Young Artists in Opera Pops.

Aug. 9: Guest conductor Uri Mayer and violinist Jaime Laredo in Samuel Barber's Concerto, plus Beethoven's Overture to "Prometheus" and Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique."

Aug. 11: Guest conductor Akira Endo leads CSO, Chautauqua Ballet Co. and North Carolina Dance Theatre in world premiere of Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's choreography for Prokofiev's "Cinderella."

Aug. 14: Guest conductor Carl Topilow and Columbus Children's Choir in pops concert featuring primarily Broadway and film music.

Aug 16: Violinist Silvia Marcovici in Khachaturian's Violin Concerto, plus Chausson's Symphony in B-Flat.

Aug. 18: Pianist Dickran Atamian in Khachaturian's Piano Concerto, plus Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" Suite.

Aug. 21: Violinist Gil Shaham in Beethoven's Concerto, plus Richard Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra."

Chautauqua Opera

In observance of the 100th anniversary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi, artistic director Jay Lesenger has elected to produce two of his operas. The season will open with the 1853 "La Traviata," from that first great trio of Verdi mega-hits which also includes "Rigoletto" and "Il Trovatore." And it will also include the 1893 "Falstaff," Verdi's final masterpiece, based on Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor." It's the first time in recent memory that Chautauqua Opera has presented two works by the same composer.

The Verdi double bill will be balanced by two lighter offerings, Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel," a masterpiece for children from 8 to 98, and the ever popular patter of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta "The Mikado."

All performances by the Chautauqua Opera are on Fridays and Mondays, are sung in English and performed in Norton Hall with curtain time at 7:30 p.m. The schedule is as follows:

July 6 and 9: Verdi's "La Traviata," starring Kristin Clayton as Violetta, Robert Breault as Alfredo, conducted by Christopher Larkin, directed by Jay Lesenger.

July 20 and 23: Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel," starring Kimberly Gratland James and Lyndee White, conducted by Klauspeter Seibel, directed by Jay Lesenger.

Aug. 3 and 6: Verdi's "Falstaff," starring Richard Zeller as Falstaff, conducted by Robert Lyall, directed by Jay Lesenger.

Aug. 17 and 20: Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Mikado," starring Phil Cokorinos and Melissa Parks, conducted by Jerome Shannon, directed by Bill Fabris.

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