2018 Season Reviews & Articles

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Madama Butterfly at the Princeton Festival

Andrew Moravcsik, Opera Today, July 5, 2018

The title role of Cho-Cho-San, the 15-year old geisha whose naïve love for an American sailor ends in suicide, belongs among the most challenging in the Italian repertoire. Any singer who dares to tackle this role requires the stamina to remain on stage nearly continuously through almost three hours, singing with a full range of dynamics, emotions, and textual nuances.

The smaller characters consistently excelled. Rising young American baritone Paul la Rosa, a Juilliard graduate with an extraordinary resume of operatic and concert performances, sang Sharpless with style, full resonance and true stage presence—save for some thinner top G’s. Janara Kellerman brought a resounding mezzo voice, clear diction and convincing passion to the role of Suzuki. Her Puccini sounds like Verdi and Wagner, in the best sense of the comparison.

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“Madame Butterfly” at the Princeton Festival was world class

Toby Grace, Out in Jersey, July 5, 2018

Yulia Lysenko as Cio-Cio-san, Matthew White as Pinkerton (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Yulia Lysenko as Cio-Cio-san, Matthew White as Pinkerton (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Every element of the show was world class; the singing of course, the orchestra, the set and costumes, the lighting — all of superb quality.

We must begin by recognizing the work of Richard Tang Yuk, the overall director of the Princeton Festival and conductor of the orchestra for the opera (as well as playing the harpsichord in the Festival Baroque Orchestra.) Clearly his vision, leadership and judgment are what have brought the festival to its present outstanding level.

The title role of Madame Butterfly is a challenging one, requiring a strong voice and endurance. Yulia Lysenko, with her crystal clear soprano and riveting stage presence was brilliant in the role. Her ability to convey both ecstatic joy and the most profound sorrow brought the production to its highest level.

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Baroque Orchestra performance was a real delight

Toby Grace, Out in Jersey, June 29, 2018

The June 27th performance of the Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra at Miller Chapel. Princeton Theological Seminary, was a real delight. The 13 piece ensemble led by Concertmaster Juan Carlos Zamudio was in perfect form, giving us crisp and precise renditions of classics by Handel, Telemann, Brescianello, Vivaldi and Martin Marais.

The concert began with Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from Solomon, one of the last of his many oratorios. Solomon is today rarely performed in its entirety but this excerpt, a bright and lively interlude, is a frequently used processional set piece; often a choice for weddings. The last time I heard this piece was when the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympic Games was televised. Hearing it in the intimate setting of Miller Chapel was far preferable and much more in keeping with the composer’s intentions.

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Despite rough edges, ‘Madame Butterfly’ at McCarter provides a visceral thrill: review

James C. Taylor, nj.com, June 28, 2018

(photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Madama Butterfly
(photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

East met West in Central Jersey this week as the 14th Princeton Festival presented Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.”

Conducted by festival director Richard Tang Yuk and staged by Steven LaCosse, this presentation of Puccini’s versimo classic is thoroughly professional, if rarely subtle. One of the highlights of rather workmanlike renditions of classics is how one can appreciate the strength of the material.

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Princeton Festival Continues With Concert of Baroque Chamber Music

Nancy Plum, Town Topics, June 27, 2018

Princeton Festival is spending the fourth week of this year’s season focusing on the Baroque era of music history, beginning with a chamber orchestra concert last Saturday afternoon. Comprised of six members of The Princeton Festival Baroque Orchestra, the Festival Baroque Chamber Ensemble presented an hour-long performance at Princeton Abbey which felt like a refreshing cool drink on a summer afternoon. The five works performed were, as advertised, “rare gems of the Baroque chamber repertoire,” as four string players, a theorbo, and harpsichord showed that the Festival’s foray into 17th- and 18th-century music was a worthy artistic decision. Princeton Abbey is an unusual liturgical space in that the members of the congregation face one another, rather than the chancel, but perhaps thanks to the recent residency at the Abbey by the American Boychoir, the acoustics were perfect for chamber music.

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Going for Baroque

Linda Holt, BroadStreetReview.com, June 25, 2018

The Princeton Festival winds down after a successful 14th season, but for lovers of Baroque music, some of the best is saved for last. On June 23, 2018, members of the Princeton Festival Baroque Chamber Ensemble presented five examples of the dazzling universe of music composed in Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. The concert was held in Princeton Abbey’s neo-Gothic chapel, a visual standout even among Princeton’s ubiquitous Gothic Revival architecture.

This is an enjoyable work [Suite No 3 in E Minor by Johann Bernhard Bach] with multiple movements (eight or nine, depending on the editor), each with a distinctive personality. The ensemble’s expressive richness and woodsy timbre shined throughout, including in sections featuring a playful trio, fugues, brilliant cello runs, and an assortment of embellishments served deliciously like musical tapas.

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Princeton Festival Opera Review: ‘Madama Butterfly’

Elaine Strauss, PrincetonInfo.com, reprinted from U.S. 1 Newspaper, June 20, 2018

Conductor Richard Tang Yuk, at the podium, keeps the pacing lively or poignant, as the drama demands. He resists a common impulse to revise the show. In his hands the listener easily detects Puccini’s blend of western and Japanese musical elements. Japanese music opens the opera and recurs. Fragments of the “Star Spangled Banner” appear.

Butterfly sings throughout the almost three-hour performance. Lysenko conveyed her dramatic change from demure in the first act to strong-minded in the second. Her unaccompanied singing in the second was memorable for its unforced naturalness. And her rendition of “Un bel di” (One Fine Day), the signature aria of the opera, with its harp solo, evoked enthusiastic applause.

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Princeton Festival Presents “Madama Butterfly” With Impressive Visuals and Singing

Nancy Plum, Town Topics, June 20, 2018

Yulia Lysenko as Cio-Cio-san (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Yulia Lysenko as Cio-Cio-san (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Princeton Festival‘s presentation Saturday night at McCarter Theatre Centter’s Matthews Theatre was every bit the crowd-pleaser it should be, showcasing several stand-out singers in the process.

… Lysenko in particular showed that Puccini’s music was written for a voice such as hers; gliding across the stage in quasi-platform flip-flops, Lysenko floated higher musical passages over the orchestral accompaniment and clearly was not afraid to sing at a pianissimo volume to make a theatrical or musical point.

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Princeton Festival presents a perennial favorite [A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum]

Toby Grace, Out in Jersey, June 18, 2018

This perennial favorite fully upheld the Princeton Festival’s traditionally high standards in every way. It played to a packed house (SRO) that roared with laughter at all the right moments and applauded until their hands were in danger of damage. When you stop to think about it that is pretty amazing for a show that has its origins over 2,000 years ago in the writings of the Roman satirist Plautus. Much of humor rarely translates well across time, generations and cultures but the satire and slapstick of Plautus is just as funny now as it was millennia ago and no doubt will be millennia hence as well.

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Review: ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’

Neal Zoren, PrincetonInfo.com, reprinted from U.S. 1 Newspaper, June 13, 2018

Michael Caizzi as Pseudolus

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is its own reward. Written and awarded liberally 56 years ago, the musical is endowed with timeless comic writing by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, who could bless the sophisticated with the crass to generate a well-honed joke, a jaunty score by Stephen Sondheim, and witty lyrics by the same.

Morgan’s entire cast deserves praise as individuals and an ensemble. Michael Caizzi is a wily, funny Pseudolus, a “Bilko” — a master schemer personified by stage, TV, and film comic Phil Silvers — among Roman slaves who is engineering his way from bondage to freedom. Reliable Patrick James graces the festival with another well-drawn portrayal as Senex, the patrician of age 50 or so who longs for a fling with an ingenue he assumes is his household’s new maid.

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Concordia Chamber Players Open Princeton Festival With Musical Finesse

Nancy Plum, Town Topics, June 13, 2018

The ensemble paid tribute to another nationalistic composer in Jean Sibelius’ Suite in A major for string trio. Sibelius composed this work while in his early 20s, never intending the Suite to be published, and parts of the final movements have not survived. Like the two works preceding this on the program, Suite in A major paid tribute to Sibelius’s homeland with Finnish folk dance melodies. The second movement especially matched the gypsy feel of Kodály’s work, expertly led by violinist Zori.

The four players of the Concordia joined forces for Antonin Dvorzák’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, a work which was just one piece of a significant but underperformed repertory of chamber music from the Czech composer. Dvorzák’s piano quartets were overshadowed by his even more monumental piano quintets, but the members of the Concordia Chamber Players easily demonstrated why this particular quartet can stand among the most significant late 19th-century chamber works.

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Princeton Festival presents a wild, tuneful, stripped-down ‘Forum’ [A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum]

John Timpane, The Inquirer Philadelphia, June 12, 2018

There are two keys to a good production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Key 1: a good Pseudolus, wily slave and emcee, master clown, fine vocalist, fourth-wall-busting happy destroyer, and gifted pratfaller. Key 2: three crazy, talented Proteans.

This stripped-down, back-to-the-roots rendition is simultaneously slapdash, as it must be, and tight. Eleven well-cast actors, most of whom can really sing, keep the warhorse in a lather. Forum is often a big production, all flashing swords, swirling togas, and elaborate sets, as in the great version at the Walnut Street Theatre last fall. Here it’s three doors, three windows above, and a bench that gets moved around for greatest chaos. Director Michael Dean Morgan and set designer Wesley Cornwell thus focus us on things done, sung, and said.

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FEATURE ARTICLES

Madama Butterfly

David Fox, TimeOut Philadelphia, June 24, 2018

(photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

Madama Butterfly (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

This year an opera, Puccini’s heartrending and gorgeous classic, serves as the centerpiece of the wide-ranging and often terrific Princeton Festival. Judging from the fest’s past successes, the production will be impressive, the voices (often young singers starting their careers) beautiful and the orchestra high-caliber. See the full lineup of Princeton Festival performances here.

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Costumer Miller Dresses Up Festival Stages

Elaine Strauss, PrincetonInfo.com, reprinted from U.S. 1 Newspaper, June 20, 2018

With Princeton Festival’s extravaganza underway, costume designer Marie Miller’s work is visible in two musical-theater presentations: Stephen Sondheim’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” at the Matthews Acting Studio, and ” Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” at McCarter Theater. A recent playbill playfully notes that Miller, a seamstress, “has kept the Festival in stitches since 2005,” its first year.

In a telephone interview Miller talks about how she handles the touchy task of costuming for both vehicles. About “A Funny Thing Happened…” she says, “185 Nassau is tiny, and we need to make quick changes. There’s no way the audience couldn’t notice the off-stage costume changes. Changing clothes is a distraction for the actors; it’s not fun for them. I want to keep the visible parts minimal. Whatever is seen should be part of the fun for people watching.”

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NJ Today: Central Jersey Daily Rundown, Saturday, June 16

Brad Wadlow, my central jersey, June 16, 2018

Kashiwagi at Princeton Public Library
Mari Kashiwagi, an award-winning poet, is coming from Japan to give a reading of her “Butterfly” poems on Sunday, June 17 at the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon St., Princeton. The poems were inspired by this month’s Princeton Festival production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” The event, co-sponsored by the Festival Guild and the library, opens with a light brunch at 11:30 a.m., to be followed at noon by the reading and discussion with Kashiwagi and her translator, Takako Lento.

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Award-winning Japanese Poet to Read at Princeton Public Library as Part of Princeton Festival

nj arts maven, June 16, 2018

Mari Kashiwagi, an award-winning poet, is coming from Japan to give a reading of her “Butterfly” poems inspired by this month’s Princeton Festival production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. The event, co-sponsored by the Festival, the Festival Guild, and the Library.

“We are delighted that this internationally known poet has agreed to give a reading as part of this year’s Festival,” said Richard Tang Yuk, Artistic and Executive Director. “It is a tribute to the power and universal appeal of Puccini’s wonderful opera that it inspired her spare and evocative “Butterfly” poems, and we’re eagerly anticipating her insights.”

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Princeton Festival to perform classic “Madama Butterfly“

Kelly Giuliano, centraljersey.com, June 15, 2018

A tragic tale of love and loss, “Madama Butterfly” has emotionally awoken and evoked feelings of overwhelming despair for audiences alike over the past century. As one of the world’s best known operas, Madama Butterfly originated as late 19th century folklore, “Madame Butterfly,” written by American author John Luther Long.

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Summer Arts Swing Into Season

Dan Aubrey, PrincetonInfo.com, reprinted from U.S. 1 Newspaper, June 13, 2018

The Princeton Festival is filling professional stages with two heavy-hitting musical works — one high drama and the other high comedy.
Giacomo Puccini’s famed 1903 opera “Madama Butterfly” arrives at McCarter Theater on Saturday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays, June 24 and July 1, at 3 p.m.

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Award-Winning Japanese Poet to Read at Princeton Public Library as Part of Princeton Festival

Mari Kashiwagi

Mari Kashiwagi

Rick Busciglio, New Jersey Footlights, June 7, 2018

Mari Kashiwagi, an award-winning poet, is coming from Japan to give a reading of her “Butterfly” poems on Sunday, June 17 at the Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. The poems were inspired by this month’s Princeton Festival production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly.

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Princeton Festival Offers Free Lectures, Workshops

Anthony Bellano, Princeton Patch, June 7, 2018

Check here for the comprehensive list of upcoming events that are part of the Princeton Festival.
PRINCETON, NJ — Free lectures, discussions, workshops and more continue through the second part of The Princeton Festival season. The following list of offerings covers Saturday June 9 through Sunday July 1. More information is available at https://princetonfestival.org/event_cat/2018-ee-programs.

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Princeton Festival Program Aimed At Bringing Youth To The Opera

Anthony Bellano, Princeton Patch, June 5, 2018

“Young Friends of the Princeton Festival” is the festival’s program designed to make it easier for younger people to experience the opera.
“Young Friends of the Princeton Festival” is the festival’s program designed to make it easier for younger people to experience the excitement of a live opera performance. The festival is offering a limited number of tickets to its production of Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at 40 percent off full price, including an intermission beverage.

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Princeton NJ Events Calendar

PrincetonOnline, June 5, 2018

Opera Workshop: Music That Tells a Story, Princeton Festival (Tuesday, June 12, 2018)
Opera Workshop: Music That Tells a Story, Princeton Festival, Lawrence Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Program on musical features, techniques, and significance of operas led by Westminster voice professor Rochelle Ellis and Kyle Mason, Princeton graduate student. Continues Thursday, June 14, with back stage tour and viewing of final dress rehearsal for “Madama Butterfly.” Register. Free., www.princetonfestival.org

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Princeton Festival – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Michael Caizzi as Pseudolus (photo by Jessi Franko Designs LLC)

stepoutside.org, June 5, 2018

Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 4:00 p.m.
This Tony-winning Broadway farce is light, fast-paced, witty, irreverent and one of the funniest musicals ever written. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum takes comedy back to its roots, combining situations from the time-tested, 2000-year-old comedies of Roman playwright, Plautus, with the infectious energy of classic vaudeville.

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The Princeton Festival Launches Program to Attract Younger Audiences to Opera with Special Ticket Pricing

Rick Busciglio, New Jersey Footlights, June 4, 2018

“Young Friends” Participants Will Attend Either of Two “Madama Butterfly” Performances for Less
The Princeton Festival has announced a new “Young Friends of the Princeton Festival” program, created to make it easier for younger people to experience the excitement of a live opera performance by offering a limited number of tickets to its production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at 40% off full price, including an intermission beverage.

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Planet Princeton Weekend Picks, June 2-3

Kystal Knapp, Planet Princeton, June 1, 2018

Saturday, June 2
Lecture | Madama Butterfly: Beauty in Betrayal – Rider University Professor Timothy Urban discusses the music and plot of Puccini’s beloved opera “Madama Butterfly.” Sponsored by The Princeton Festival and the West Windsor branch of the Mercer County Library.

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Madama Butterfly

jerseyarts.com, June 1, 2018

Puccini’s tuneful, heart-wrenching, and perennially popular masterpiece, Madama Butterfly, tells the tale of a young Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio-San (the titular Butterfly), who falls for Lieutenant B.F. Pinkerton, stationed with the U.S. Navy in Japan. She marries him in defiance of her family’s disapproval, only to be abandoned when Pinkerton returns to America.

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The plays and musicals to see in Philadelphia this summer

John Timpane, The Inquirer Philadelphia, May 30, 2018

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (June 10-July 1, Matthews Acting Studio). The Princeton Festival features this broad musical comedy, in which wily slave Pseudolus and a bunch of Romans roam the streets of Rome. (609-258-2787, princetonfestival.org)

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25 Cool Music Festivals to Heat Up Your Summer

Princeton Festival

The Peter and Will Anderson Quintet (photo by Lynn Redmile)

Jacqueline Klecak, New Jersey Monthly, May 30, 2018

Princeton Festival
June 9-July 1: The festival highlights the arts community with three weeks of workshops, lectures and performances in opera, music and theater. Times, prices and locations vary.

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Calendar

Town Topics, May 30, 2018

Thursday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m.
Princeton Festival Preview at the Princeton Public Library. Scenes from Madama Butterfly and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will be performed by the Festival’s artists. Directors and cast members will discuss what happens behind the scenes.

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Princeton Festival Season Opens June 9

New Jersey Footlights, njfootlights.net, May 24, 2018

Princeton Festival Season Opens June 9; Schedule Includes Madama Butterfly, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Peter and Will Anderson Jazz Quintet, Baroque Orchestra. Free Lectures, Previews, Special Events, Poetry Reading Also Offered.

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Fun in the Summertime

Laurie Pellichero, Princeton Magazine, May Issue, 2018

Running June 9 – July 1, The Princeton Festival (www.princetonfestival.org) offers Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, a Baroque orchestra, chamber and choral music, the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and a jazz concert at venues in and around Princeton. The piano competition is always a highlight, and free extras include over a dozen workshops and lectures to boost your musical knowledge.

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Princeton Festival Season Opens June 9

PrincetonOnline, princetonol.com, May 22, 2018

The Princeton Festival (www.princetonfestival.org) kicks off its 14th season on June 9 with a slate of eight events in 21 performances, including Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly, the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the Peter and Will Anderson Jazz Quintet, and concerts of Baroque, choral, and chamber music.

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Yulia Lysenko

Yulia Lysenko

 

Yulia Lysenko stars in Princeton’s Madama Butterfly

Operametro.com, May 18, 2018

OperaMetro (OM) had the privilege of chatting with Ms. Yulia Lysenko (YL), who stars in the Princeton Festival’s production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly this summer. How I would love to be doing this interview with Yulia in person, strolling on the walkways under the shade of the great trees on the Princeton University campus, but, alas, our schedules didn’t permit it and, what’s more, it seems to have been raining, cold and damp since 2016, maybe longer. Outside wouldn’t work anyway.

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Director and Chair of Princeton Festival Thank All Who Made the Gala a Success

Board members with Gov. Murphy

Board members with Gov. Murphy (photo by Pia Ruggles)

Richard Tang Yuk & Costa Papastephanou, Town Topics, May 16, 2018

We would like to thank all of those who made the 14th Annual Princeton Festival Gala on April 21 such an enjoyable and successful event. The Gala helps support our 2018 season of performing arts presentations, from opera to jazz to Broadway, and our free community educational programs, which this year include four workshops and over a dozen lectures and presentations (www.princtonfestival.org has all the details and ticket information).

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Opera Stars, Production Staff to Share Stories, Experiences at 2018 Princeton Festival Guild Artists’ Round Table

New Jersey Stage, May 16, 2018

Performers and production crew from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, this year’s Princeton Festival opera, will share their personal experiences with the public during the annual Princeton Festival Guild Artists’ Round Table on Wednesday May 30 at 6:30pm in the Cooper Conference Room of the Erdman Center for Continuing Education, Princeton Theological Seminary (20 Library Place, Princeton, NJ).

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Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly

David Fox, TimeOut Philadelphia, May 12, 2018

This year an opera, Puccini’s heartrending and gorgeous classic, serves as the centerpiece of the wide-ranging and often terrific Princeton Festival. Judging from the fest’s past successes, the production will be impressive, the voices (often young singers starting their careers) beautiful and the orchestra high-caliber.

Read more »

 

A Supporter of the Princeton Festival Sounds a Fanfare for This Year’s Event

Norman Harvey, Town Topics, May 9, 2018

As a supporter of the Princeton Festival, I wish to compliment the gala committee which organized the ”Fanfare for the Festival” on April 21. It was a splendid affair, celebrating the upcoming 14th season. Excellent hors d’oeuvres and dinner were provided. Entertainment included singers from this summer’s musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and opera, Madama Butterfly.

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Free Interactive Workshop – Intro to Opera

PrincetonOnline, princetonol.com, May 9, 2018

Events for Wednesday June 6, 2018:
Registration is now open for The Princeton Festival’s popular Music That Tells a Story, a free introduction to opera that includes an interactive workshop led by professional singer and educator Dr. Rochelle Ellis plus admission to a fully-staged performance of the Puccini favorite Madama Butterfly.

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May Programs at Princeton Public Library

PrincetonOnline, princetonol.com, May 3, 2018

Thursday, May 31, 7 p.m.
Denis Feeney, the Giger Professor of Latin at Princeton University, presents the opening lecture of the 2018 Princeton Festival. The lecture will concentrate on how Plautus anticipates modern musical comedy, as in “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which is based primarily on Plautus’ masterpiece, “Pseudolus.” (Community Room).

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The Princeton Festival Offers Two New Free Performing Arts Workshops for High School and College Students

New Jersey Stage, newjerseystage.com, May 3, 2018

Registration is now open for The Princeton Festival’s new interactive workshops on opera and musical theater. Sponsored by The Princeton Festival Guild, these free programs pull back the curtain to provide unique insight on the behind-the-scenes process in an intimate setting. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged.

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Princeton Festival Gala

PrincetonInfo.com (from U.S. 1 Newspaper), May 2, 2018

There’s still a month to go before this year’s Princeton Festival gets underway with its eclectic combination of opera, musical theater, and chamber music, and jazz. But the music is already reverberating for the organization, which held its annual gala at the newly reconfigured Cobblestone Creek Country Club in Lawrenceville.

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N.J. spring festivals guide: 77 events coming in 2018

Amy Kuperinsky, NJ.com, April 20, 2018

June 9-July 1: The Princeton Festival
Would you appreciate a baroque orchestra? How about an opera, or some musical theater? The Princeton Festival is an extravaganza of the arts, with “Madama Butterfly” on June 16 and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” on June 10; princetonfestival.org

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