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Die Fledermaus to take stage at Queen’s Hall

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm. photo: Jack Liebeck

In May, Strauss’ most popular operetta, Die Fledermaus, will be transported onto the Queen’s Hall stage, from its original Viennese setting to post-Independence Trinidad next week. The operatic farce, hosted by the Classical Music Development Foundation of Trinidad & Tobago (CMDFTT) Young Artist Collective, casts UK-based Trinidadian tenor Ronald Samm, celebrated as “the first black man to perform Verdi’s Otello in the UK,” in the lead role of Gabrien Eisenstein. Samm, whose musical training began at St Mary’s College, Port-of-Spain, has performed for Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace and has taken the stage in London’s West End, at prestigious venues like the Old Vic, in the role of Husky Miller in a production of Carmen Jones directed by Simon Callow, and the Victoria Palace Theatre in a Rob Bettinson production of The Buddy Holly Story.  

He came to international attention, however, when in 2010, he played the challenging title role in Verdi’s Otello with the Birmingham Opera Company, something he would do again in 2011 for Nordlands Opera in Umea, and in 2013 for Opera North. Samm’s oratorio repertoire includes Handel’s Messiah; Bach’s Magnificat and St John Passion; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Beethoven’s Mass in C; Mozart Requiem; Verdi Requiem, and Stainer’s Crucifixion. Die Fledermaus producers, the CMDFTT Young Artist Collective, was formed in 2005 to increase the visibility of the Classical Arts in T&T and improve access to training opportunities for local musicians through fund-raising performances. They have staged among others, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Little Carib Theatre and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at Daaga Hall, University of the West Indies.

Die Fledermaus will be directed by Dr Helmer Hilwig, chairman of the Queen’s Hall board, whose local acting career includes performances with The Bagasse Company, Raymond Choo Kong Productions, The Love Movement, and the PresCon Choir. The Collective’s co-founder June Nathaniel is the production’s musical director and conductor, and is accompanied by Enrique Ali and Darren Shillingford. Costuming is by Margaret Sheppard, set design, Arielle Rostant and lighting by Celia Wells. Organisers say that their production “will feature a new humorous English translation to match the vitality of Die Fledermaus which contains some of Strauss’ most memorable arias and famous waltzes.”



Tickets are on sale for the two-night performance scheduled for May 9 and 11. For more information, contact CMDFTT at 632-2548, e-mail at [email protected] or visit Web site at`


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