Issaquah natives sing in opera ‘The Magic Flute’

May 10, 2011

Fantastical creatures fill the stage — dragons, alligators and birds — but even more impressive are the lovers, committed to each other despite danger and challenges in the comedic opera “The Magic Flute,” written by Wolfgang Mozart in 1791.

Benjamin Richardson (center), of Issaquah, is one of The Three Spirits in the musical that runs through May 21. By Rozarh Lynch

Two Issaquah natives, Anya Matanovic and Benjamin Richardson, are currently starring in the Seattle Opera’s staging of the performance at McCaw Hall.

Soprano Matanovic, who graduated from Issaquah High School in 1999, has sung in nearly 40 operas. In 2009, she was singing the part of Musetta in “La Bohème” in Israel when she learned the Seattle Opera had offered her a role in “The Magic Flute.”

This will be her second time in the opera — a two-act story of Prince Tamino on his quest to save and prove himself to Pamina, the daughter of the Queen of the Night.

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Opera aficionado hits high notes with audiences

April 26, 2011

Think opera is kind of ho-hum? If so, perhaps you’ve never experienced Norm Hollingshead’s take on it. The retired middle school teacher has been giving opera previews locally for nearly 35 years, and he’s converted many a skeptic.

Norm Hollingshead holds his copy of the novel ‘Don Quixote’ during a preview of Massenet's opera ‘Don Quixote’ at the Mercer Island Library on Feb. 25. By Allison Int-Hout

“We would crawl over broken glass to go to one of his previews,” season-ticket holder Kristin von Kreisler said of herself and her husband John Bomben.

The Mercer Island Library hosted nearly 40 people Feb. 25 as Hollingshead made one of his final stops during a series in the Seattle-area library system. He delivered the 12th of 14 scheduled lectures in preparation for the Seattle Opera’s upcoming performance of Jules Massenet’s “Don Quixote.”

Two regulars at Hollingshead’s opera previews are Bob and Coleen George, of Sammamish, who were in attendance at his lecture at the Mercer Island Library and said they rarely miss one of his previews. They usually go to the Issaquah Library for Hollingshead’s previews, but snow prevented them from going there the last time it was scheduled.

“He does an excellent job,” Bob George said. “He’s almost more entertaining than the opera itself.”

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Providence Point Chamber Quartet returns for 20th year

October 26, 2010

Providence Point Chamber Quartet musicians Virginia Dziekonski, Tom Dziekonski, Eileen Swanson and Ingrid Fredrickson (from left) start their 20th season on Halloween. Contributed

It all started because violist Eileen Swanson had jury duty in 1991.

She met a woman whose mother-in-law, Verona Crane, was turning 85. The family wanted to throw Crane a surprise birthday party, and they wanted a string quartet to feature at the celebration

Swanson agreed, and assembled a quartet of her friends who played for groups across Seattle, including the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, ACT Theatre and Seattle Opera.

“We just had a wonderful time, as everybody out there adored it and asked if we would come back,” Swanson said. Read more

Issaquah grad reprises ‘Falstaff’ role

February 23, 2010

Issaquah native Anya Matanovic stars as Nannetta in the Seattle Opera’s production of ‘Falstaff.’ By Bill Mohn

Reprising a role from her first years as an opera singer, Issaquah native Anya Matanovic will grace Seattle with her voice again in Seattle Opera’s comedy “Falstaff” Feb. 27 – March 13.

“Working with Anya is always a treat. Her intelligence and charm shine through in this role, which also showcases her beautiful voice,” Director Peter Kazaras wrote in an e-mail. “It has been inspiring to watch Anya mature and master the technical difficulties of this intricate score. I think she is a perfect Nannetta.”

While she lives in Manhattan, Issaquah is the city Matanovic said she calls home.

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