Press Releases

Purchase Opera Presents World Premiere of "Confession" and Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica" April 23, 24, 25, 26 Performing Arts Center

Date Released: 3/24/2009

The award winning Purchase Opera is presenting the world premiere of "Confession," and the revival of two popular operas by Puccini, "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica."

Performances will take place on April 23, 24, 25, 26 in The Performing Arts Center.  Tickets are $25. To order call 914-251-6200 or visit

Purchase College, State University of New York is located at 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, New York. Curtain times are April 23, 24, 25 at 8 PM and April 26 at 2 PM.

To celebrate its tenth anniversary season, Purchase Opera created its first world premiere opera "Confession," a one-act opera to complement the revival of the productions of "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica,' which were performed when Purchase Opera presented its first season.  "After an exhaustive search for an appropriate opera, nothing suitable was found to complement the two Puccini favorites," said Jacque Trussel, Director of the Purchase Opera.

It occurred to Trussel that he had always wondered what was the behind the story of how the Suor Angelica came to be a nun.  Within days he had concocted the story for what was to become the prequel to "Suor Angelica." He received positive feedback and approached his assistant Margaret Vignola, whose writing he had admired, to ask her to collaborate on his idea.  Two months later the libretto was finished.

A young Frenchman Raphael Lucas, who was studying composition with Professor Suzanne Farrin, impressed Trussel and Hugh Murphy, conductor of the Purchase Opera.  Impressed by the maturity and uniqueness of his music, they asked Suzanne about the possibility of Raphael composing a scene from the opera. "The music was original and promising," said Trussel.

Over the next months, the two men worked with Raphael on text scan, dramatic intention, musical timings, textural accents, etc.  According to Trussel, "The music grew from promising to stunning."  According to Trussel, Mr. Lucas knew the opera "Suor Angelica" since childhood.  His mother, an opera singer in France, sang the role of Genovieffa in "Suor Angelica." A young Raphael Lucas appeared on stage at the climax of the production as her deceased son, and guided her into heaven.

The other one-act operas "Gianni Schicchi" and "Suor Angelica" tell two tales of secrets and their consequences.  Puccini's music provides a lush musical and dramatic feast for the senses, whether in the comedic bedchamber of a wealthy, just deceased Florentine, or in the solemnity of a 17th century cloistered convent.

Purchase Opera is directed by Jacque Trussel, an internationally renowned tenor who has performed leading roles with more than 50 opera companies throughout the world including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala and l' Opera de la Bastille in Paris. His solo recording of scenes and arias entitled "Sounds and Sweet Airs" was nominated for a Grammy Award. As a director he has staged more than a dozen new productions in the U.S., and made his directorial debut in Europe with a much-heralded new production of Strauss' Salome. At Purchase College, he has directed twelve productions including The Marriage of Figaro, The Merry Widow and Don Giovanni, as well as the award-winning productions.

Hugh Murphy has been coaching professional singers for over 20 years, preparing them to record and perform with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. He made his New York City conducting debut in 1995, and has conducted numerous regional opera companies.  He currently holds the position of music director and conductor with two New York City ensembles, Opera Semplice, which presents young professional singers in performances of standard operatic repertoire, and Apollo's Banquet, an ensemble presenting concerts of notated 18th-century court and theater dances to consistently high critical acclaim. He was the conductor of all four Purchase Opera award-winning productions.

In ten years the Department of Opera Performance and Vocal Studies at Purchase College has earned many honors.  It was the winner of this year’s National Opera Association Award for Best Opera of the Year for its production of Lee Hoiby’s The Tempest .  This was the fourth first place win for Purchase in five years.  The award recognized the outstanding caliber of the production. The opera was also recorded by Albany Records and will be released this Spring.  Interviews and scenes from the opera are currently featured in five segments of the Young Opera Series, hosted by Anna Lenhardt, on Sunday Arts Online on the Web site. Purchase Opera also received Classical Singer Magazine Awards for Best Coach of the year and for Professor Trussel Best Stage Director of the Year. For four years they garnered winners in the Leiderkrantz Competition, two were first place winners in the Lieder Division.  There were also had winners in several categories of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
The Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film at Purchase College provided technical support for the opera production including set design, lighting design, set construction, costumes etc.

Sister Angelica - D'ana Lombard and Diana Wangerin
The Princess, her aunt  - Nadine Kuhlberg and Ilene Pabon
The Abbess/The Monitress - Emily Klavun
The Mistress of the novices - Ilene Pabon and Nadine Kuhlberg
Sister Genovieffa- Savannah Bisset, Skylar Saltz, and Jasmine Thomas
Sister Osmina - Angelique Alexander
Sister Dolcina - Sofia Sarkisian
The nursing sister (Infermiera)- Samantha Kelley and Jasmine Thomas
Cercatrice(The alms sisters) - 1st Cercatrice:  Skylar Saltz and Isabella Bendik
2nd Cercatrice-  Katharine Steffans 
Novices - 1st -Taylor Kirk;  2nd: Anna McTiernan
The lay sisters: Soprano -  Candace Matthews; Mezzo soprano -   Kelly Clarke

Gianni Schicchi -  Robert Balonek and JungBum (Daniel) Heo
Lauretta, his daughter - Catherine Webber
Zita, cousin of Buoso Donati - Holland Kerker and Nadine Kuhlberg
Rinuccio, Zita's nephew - Jeffrey Taveras and Christopher Colmenero
Gherardo, Buoso's nephew - Brister Hay III and Marcos Cuevas
Nella, Gherardo's wife - Jennifer Sunshine and Mariana Da Costa
Gherardino, their son -  Alyssa Meyers
Betto di Signa, Buoso's brother-in-law  - Kevin Dilone and Derek Greten-Harrison
Simone, cousin of Buoso - Constandinos Tsourakis and Said Pressley
Marco, Simone's son - Rasdia Wilmot and Michael Meyers
La Ciesca, Marco's wife - Rebecca Hajek and Amelia Feuer
Maestro Spinelloccio, a doctor - John Arida and Derek Greten-Harrison
Ser Amantio di Nicolao, a notary John Arida and Gabriel Felippe
Pinellino, a cobbler - Christian Perez
Guccio, a dyer - Colin Whiteman 


Sofie - Catherine Webber and Savannah Bisset
Anna Viola -   Molly Davey and Samantha Kelley
Prince (their Uncle) - Joshua Benevento
Princess (their Aunt) - Holland Kerker and Nadine Kuhlberg
Father Francis - Robert Balonek and Anthony Caputo


Production Stage Manager - Jordan Davis
Stage Manager - Jennifer Levine
Assistant Stage Managers - Erica Gambino and Veronica Falborn
Scenic Designer - Alexander Coppaken
Assistant Scenic Designers - Stephanie Fallone and Sean Jennings Charge Painter - Miranda Casler Props Manager - Felix Brow-Westbrook
Costume Designer - Erica Giles
Assistant Costume Designers - Rachel Guilfoyle and Leah Rogers Wardrobe Assistant - Brent Ellis
Lighting Designer - Derek Heckler
Assistant Lighting Designer - Nicholas Harris Head Electrician - Brian Tovar Light Board Operator - Gregory Solomon
Technical Director - Nicholas Freely
Assistant Technical Director - Joseph De-Luise Flyman - Sarah Landau Lead Carpenter - Gabrielle Chestna

Carpentry Crew:
Joshua Correa, Colton Couture, Sarah Landau, Patrick Lawrence, Jonathan Smith.

Costume Crew:
Mia Bednowitz, Erica Evans, Katy Freeman, Sara Hinkley, Jessica Karalis, Hanadi Khurma, Jennifer Salta, Alison Valcarcel

Electrics Crew:
Zachary Blane, Trevor Collins, Shane Collins, Derek Deiterman, Sarah Frankel, Clark Gaesser, William Hansen, Timothy Huth, Rachel Lefberg, Robert Lilly, Andrea Matos, Justin Morris, Joshua Nathanson, Ania Parks, Aaron Parsekian, Zachary Pizza, Collin Schulbaum, David Singer, Heather Smaha, Kelly Smith, Gregory Solomon, John Sornsong-Wilder, Nicole Viesta, Charles Winter

Properties Crew:
Kyle Bridwell, Diedra Catero, Tiffany Dalian, Samuel Froeshle, Ji Young Han, Lauren Madden, Alison Mantilla, Bridget Santaniello

Scenic Art:
Micaela Barrett, Jungmin Lee, Tiffany Navarro, Richart Schug, Christopher Thompson

Basic Plot Summary of Puccini's opera Suor Angelica (Sister Angelica):

The nuns are all happily doing their chores with the exception of Suor Angelica. Her family has ignored Sister Angelica for several years. Unexpectedly, her aunt, a princess, arrives at the convent. Angelica is eager to see a member of her family and rushes to her. The princess coldly tells Angelica that the reason that she was sent to the convent and rejected by her family was because of her illegitimate child. Her aunt did not come to the convent to make amends, but rather to inform Angelica that her child was dead. Angelica is crushed. She drinks poison, hoping to die and be reunited with her child. She then remembers that suicide is a sin punishable by damnation, which would leave her separated from her child. Angelica prays to the Virgin Mary, who appears, holding Angelica’s child to lead the dying sister to heaven.

Basic Plot Summary of Puccini's opera Gianni Schicchi:

Buoso Donati has died. His greedy family hears that he has left his rather large estate to the church. As the family frantically searches the home for the will, Rinuccio finds it. He promises to read the will to the family, if they will agree to him marrying Lauretta, the daughter of Gianni Schicchi. They agree and he reads the will, which confirms their fears. Rinnucio suggests that the let the wily Schicchi help fix the problem. Lauretta pleads with him to help the family, by pretending to be Buoso. Schicchi agrees to be Buoso, rewrite the will, and have a notary sign it. He makes the family swear to never tell a soul about the rewritten will. When the notary comes, Schicchi writes the new will, bequeathing Buoso’s estate to his friend “Gianni Schicchi.” The notary has left. Schicchi kicks the family out of this new house. Rinnuchio and Lauretta sing about their happy love. Schicchi proudly admires the way Buoso spent his money!