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2021-2022 Season

La Traviata

March 13th, 2022


DeBartello Performing Arts Center


Alastair Willis,

Artistic Director of South Bend Symphony Orchestra

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The third production of the SBLO’s 2020-2021 season will be the immensely popular and frequently performed La Traviata. Giuseppe Verdi’s modern classic will be presented as a first-time collaboration between the SBLO and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra (SBSO), under the masterful direction of Maestro Alastair Willis. In addition, SBLO and the SBSO will also partner with the South Bend Chamber Singers, one of the best professional choirs in the region, skillfully led by Dr. Nancy Menk.


La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi has an Italian libretto, based on Alexandre Dumas’ La Dame Aux Camélias (1852), and may be the most performed opera in the world. It is an intimate, domestic opera that was originally staged in modern dress, blurring the lines between audiences and onstage characters. In composing the work, Verdi used musical styles typically reserved for kings, queens, and heroes to portray regular people. He elevated the lives of normal characters, including everyday ugliness (i.e. prostitution) and raw emotion, all while pushing the boundaries of opera as a form. However, La Traviata is not a calcified museum piece because its themes of love, sacrifice, disease and misfortune are still painfully with us. Because audience members might still mirror the plight of its characters, it is an immersive, rather than an escapist, work of art.


For the first time in decades, this production will bring together three professional performing arts groups from the region. The collaboration will yield an exceptionally local creation, broadening participation and cooperation to offer South Bend audiences an opera of superior quality and expression. This unique production will be directed by Carl Ratner, whose prodigious career includes work at The Metropolitan Opera (NY), The Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow) and Covent Garden (London). 

South Symphony Orchestra

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Past Performances of the
2021 -2022 Season

Three Decembers

The second production in the SBLO season will be Three Decembers, created by contemporary composer Jake Heggie. The piece, comprised of 11 instrumentalists, will be a co-production by the SBLO and ENSEMBLE Concept/21 (EC/21), led by renowned composer Jorge Muñiz. This professional music ensemble is based in South Bend and dedicated to presenting 21st century music while actively promoting works by regional composers. Since 2013, EC/21 has astoundingly premiered 53 new works, most recently with acclaimed guest conductor Carmen-Helena Téllez.

Heggie’s Three Decembers is a two-act chamber opera, with a libretto by Gene Scheer that was adapted from Terrence McNally’s unpublished play Some Christmas Letters. (McNally’s recent death from coronavirus makes the piece an exceptionally timely choice.) The opera deals with the conflicts within ourselves and within our families, the families we wish for and the families we wind up with. Its three parts are set in three Decembers - in 1986, 1996 and 2006. The work tells the story of a famous actress, Madeline, and her two adult children as they struggle to know and love each other. Audience members of all ages will identify with the need for familial acceptance and recognition that are central to this opera.

This opera was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera (in association with the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances) and premiered there to great acclaim in 2008.  Accomplished director Mark Albin, co-founder of Art 4, will return to direct this production.

In conjunction with Three Decembers, the SBLO will present a special evening with the work’s composer, Jake Heggie. Heggie will conduct a workshop for composition students prior to a pre-show lecture open to the general public. His involvement presents an exceptional chance for community members to have contact with a living composer and directly discuss his process.

Three Decembers will be presented December 9th & 10th at the Main Auditorium at IUSB. The opera will be fully staged and costumed, and presented in English.

December 9th & 10th,



IUSB Auditorium


Jake Heggie, Composer

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Ensemble Concept 21

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Casey Robards, Music Director

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Cavalleria Rusticana

In the opening scene, Turiddu is heard praising Lola. Santuzza witnesses Lola’s joy upon hearing Turiddu’s song. Set on Easter Sunday, 1946, in the quaint coal mining town of Nightfall, IN, in the first weeks of the coal miners’ labor strike that rocked the nation.  The people of the town support the strike, and the Salvator Mining Company has all but closed the company town down – no supplies, no electricity, no pay; the people of Nightfall are rallying to get through this time together however they can in the midst of an unseasonal heat wave. Alfio enters, extolling the pleasures of his wandering life as a wagoner and boasting publicly of his love for Lola and of her fidelity.

Santuzza leaves her house to go to Easter Mass, but she is prevented from entering the church. She has been excommunicated for her affair with Turiddu. Santuzza confides in Mamma Lucia, telling her all that has happened. When Turridu arrives, Santuzza accosts him. He tries in vain to deny his affair with Lola, when she purposefully passes in front of them, leading to a caustic exchange between the two women. Santuzza and Turiddu engage in a storm of recriminations, before Santuzza curses him. Horrified and afraid, Turiddu breaks away and goes into church.

Santuzza reveals to Alfio that his wife has been unfaithful to him, before realizing that Alfio’s fury will doom them all. As worshippers emerge from church, Turiddu publicly toasts Lola’s “loves.”  Alfio and Turiddu agree to a duel. To shield Santuzza from future recrimination, Turiddu tells everyone that he had promised to marry her to restore her honor. Turiddu bids farewell to his mother and leaves. Santuzza delivers the news that Turiddu has been killed.

Cavalleria Rusticana will be presented July 15th & 16th at Vested Interest, 240 E Tutt Street, South Bend at 7:00PM. Doors open at 6:00PM.

July 15th & 16th,

2021, 7:00PM (doors at 6:00PM)


Vested Interest at 240 E Tutt, South Bend


Anne Fuchs, Soprano

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Emanuel-Cristian Caraman, Tenor

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