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Opera Ithaca will open its third season with a grand celebration entitled Masquerade, followed by the regional premiere of Kamala Sankaram’s opera based on the story of Mukhtar Mai, Thumbprint, a New Year’s Eve Gala to include Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio and a spring 2017 production of Rossini’s Cinderella, in addition to several concerts and community events.

Masquerade, an evening of music, dance and revelry will occur at the ballroom of the Community School of Music and Arts on Thursday, October 6 th . The evening will feature the talents of NYC Wagnerian soprano, Amanda Zory, singing highlights from Wagner’s Ring,

Opera Ithaca favorite, soprano Megan Nielson (Bluebeard’s Castle, Don Giovanni), singing highlights from Puccini’s Tosca and Madama Butterfly, and many more performers including local favorites and the 2016/2017 Opera Ithaca Apprentice Artists. NYC Mercedes Benz Fashion Week makeup artist, Dorothy Petersen, will transform the performers for this gala event.

Continuing their mission of championing the work of women, Opera Ithaca presents Kamala Sankaram and Susan Yankowitz’s contemporary opera, Thumbprint, December 2nd through 4th at the Hangar Theatre. The 90-minute opera is inspired by the experiences of Mukhtar Mai, the first victim of gang rape to bring her attackers to justice in Pakistan.

In lieu of a financial settlement, Mai requested the construction of schools for girls, that they may be formally educated to help prevent the humiliation of signing their name with only their thumbprint. The work is based on interviews with Mukhtar Mai and explores the family ties and tribal traditions that lead to her astonishing act of courage.

The score is a dynamic collision of Hindustani music and traditional opera styles with an ensemble of seven singers and six instrumentalists. The cast features Broadway’s Evangelia Kingsley, Smitha Johnson, Yamuna Meleth and Ithaca’s own Christian Henry. Susannah Berryman directs and Jonathan Rose conducts.

Opera Ithaca’s second annual New Year’s Eve Gala will include a performance of Mozart’s great comedy The Abduction from the Seraglio. The opera features virtuosic singing and notoriously difficult music and is the work that the Austrian Emperor Joseph II famously mused was “too beautiful for our ears” and had a “monstrous many notes .”

Admission to the opera includes food, drink and a midnight toast.

Cinderella 2
Caitlin Mathes as Cinderella Photo provided by Richard Montgomery

The season closes with Rossini’s masterpiece, Cinderella, starring Caitlin Mathes in the title role alongside Lynn Craver and Dana Kinney as the stepsisters, and Zachary James as Alidoro the “Fairy Godfather.”

Richard Montgomery conducts the opera in a reimagined version to include the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie inserted to allow for an elaborately choreographed balletic ball brought to life by Tucker Davis. Norm Johnson directs.

Opera Ithaca was founded in 2014 by Zachary James, Lynn Craver and Richard Montgomery, with the goal of creating a consistent venue for professional opera and classical vocal performance in the Ithaca area. Since opening doors Opera Ithaca has produced the world premiere of Bonnie Montgomery’s Billy Blythe, the professional company premiere of Kristin Hevner Wyatt’s Il Sogno, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle as well as dozens of community events and concerts.

In 2015 Opera Ithaca established an Apprentice Artist program for young singers to help bridge the gap between education and professional careers.

For more information including tickets, visit

Featured photo: Mukhtar Mai, the real life inspiration behind Thumbprint. Photo provided by Kate Brooks

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.