Travel to the SOUTH PACIFICTimeless. Enchanting. Impactful.
These three words clearly describe the classic musical South Pacific, coming to the Stevens Center of the UNCSA March 14th (8:00 PM), March 16th (2:00 PM) and March 18th (7:30 PM). From the hauntingly beautiful first notes of "Bali Hai" to the romance of "Some Enchanted Evening," it's no surprise that this Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite is one of the greatest Broadway musicals of all time.
South Pacific marks Piedmont Opera’s second production of a large-scale musical. The company was one of the first in the nation to produce the Tony Award-winning The Light in the Piazza in 2008.
The cast boasts a large number of actors from across the nation, with regional talent from UNCSA’s A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute performing alongside industry veterans. According to Artistic Director James Allbritten, "This is one of the most beautiful scores of any Broadway show, yet it's so important to focus on the story itself. We cast wonderful performers in this production who happen to sing beautifully, too, so my primary focus will be on characterization and then the stunning music."
South Pacific includes music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan. Based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, the musical draws from multiple story elements. The original Broadway production opened in April of 1947, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950 and gathering ten Tony awards. The 2008 Broadway revival at Lincoln Center followed in these footsteps, winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival.
South Pacific Synopsis: Set in the South Pacific during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, handsome and wealthy Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Asian girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe's life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices. This deeply-felt drama remains as relevant today as it was in 1949, featuring such timeless favorites as "Some Enchanted Evening," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," "This Nearly Was Mine," and "There is Nothin' Like a Dame."
About the Featured Performers:
BRANCH FIELDS (Emile de Becque) is thrilled to be making his Piedmont Opera debut. Fields, whom Opera America described as "a bass of resonant richness," and The New York Times declared to be "a gifted young bass," is delighting audiences and critics alike with his glorious instrument and leading man, looks in opera, concert and musical theater. He has sung with Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Carolina, Michigan Opera Theatre, Utah Opera, San Jose Opera, and many other regional companies throughout the U.S. In concert, Branch has performed with the Munich Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and the American Symphony Orchestra.
Branch's versatility as a singing actor led to his Broadway debut in South Pacific, understudying the role of Emile de Becque in the Lincoln Center production, sharing the stage with Matthew Morrison, Kelli O'Hara and Skipp Sudduth. This monumental 2008 revival won 7 Tony Awards. Mr. Fields has since reprised Emile for Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater (UFOMT) and the historic Ogunquit Playhouse earning stellar reviews.
JENNIFER DEDOMINICI (Nellie Forbush) mezzo soprano is thrilled to make her Piedmont Opera debut in this production! Some of her favorite roles have been Maria in The Sound of Music, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha (for which she was nominated for a Henry Award, a True West Award, and a BroadwayWorld.com Award), Petra in A Little Night Music, Claudia in Nine, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Carmen in Carmen, Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel, Siebel in Faust, Mrs. Jones in Street Scene, Angelina in Cenerentola, and Dorabella in Così fan tutte. She has been a soloist in concerts with ensembles such as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Cleveland Pops, the National Repertory Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, the Portland Choral Arts Society, the Aspen Choral Society, and the Colorado Symphony. Some other notable performing experiences: understudy for Denyce Graves in Carmen at Opera Colorado and 3rd Secretary in Nixon in China (available on the Naxos label). Jennifer was a four-time Regional Finalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a first-place winner of the Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition.
JESSE DARDEN (Lt. Joseph Cable) Local favorite Jesse Darden received the BM from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on a Cooper Music Scholarship studying with Dr. Robert Wells. He received the MM from The Ohio State University under the tutelage of Dr. Robin Rice. While at Ohio State, Mr. Darden performed Fenton in Falstaff and the title role in Albert Herring. Mr. Darden has also performed roles in Carmen and Gianni Schicchi with Capitol Opera and Greensboro Opera. At UNCG, Mr. Darden performed in Amahl and the Night Visitors, The Ballad of Baby Doe, HMS Pinafore as well as outreach projects.
Mr. Darden was a national semi-finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition as well as a first place winner in the Columbus “Women in Music” competition and the Greensboro Euterpe Scholarship competition. He has won or placed in several district and regional NATS student competitions and is a recipient of the Ohio State Wilson Vocal Award. This summer, Mr. Darden was a Studio Artist with the Chautauqua Opera Company. He is a student of Dr. Marilyn Taylor.
SUSAN NEVES (Bloody Mary) Dramatic soprano, Susan Neves, has been internationally acclaimed in theaters such as the Opera Bastille in Paris, the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Vienna State Opera, Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, Monte Carlo, and opera houses throughout Italy including L’Arena di Verona, Bologna, Genoa, Parma, Cagliari and Venice. She commands a repertoire of some of the most challenging roles written for soprano.
Tickets for South Pacific are selling at record numbers and range from $18 to $83. Purchase tickets by calling Piedmont Opera at (336) 725-7101 or by visiting piedmontopera.org. Group and student discounts are available.