Dayton arts groups usher in 2016-2017 with ‘Vive la France!’


What: "Vive la France! – DPAA Season Opening Spectacular"

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17

Cost: $18-$94

Tickets: Call Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or visit

The beauty, drama, joy and influence of eight diverse French composers will be celebrated in a thrilling showcase of music, song and dance as the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance presents “Vive la France!,” a one-night only Season Opening Spectacular spotlighting Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra slated Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Schuster Center.

The first half of the concert, which opens with “The Star-Spangled Banner” per tradition at every DPAA season kickoff, incorporates the DPO’s performance of Berlioz’s festive “Roman Carnival Overture” as well as Massenet’s “Meditation” from the French opera “Thais,” which notably features Philharmonic concertmaster/violinist Jessica Hung joined by Dayton Ballet soloists. Dayton Opera’s excerpts of Gounod’s “Faust” and Massenet’s “Werther” also accent the program. The first half grandly concludes with DPAA offering the “Bacchanale” and final scene from Saint-Saëns’ masterpiece “Samson and Delilah.”

The second half of the concert opens with the DPO and Dayton Ballet performing

“Carillon” and “Farandole” from Bizet’s “L’Arlésienne” followed by performances of Offenbach’s dramatic opera “The Tales of Hoffman” and the lively “Galop” from “Orpheus in the Underworld.” Next, musical theater leaps into the forefront as Dayton Opera vocalists deliver the emotional trio of “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Stars” and “Bring Him Home” from Boublil and Schönberg’s blockbuster musical “Les Misérables.” The concert concludes with a performance of the French National Anthem “La Marseillaise” arranged by Berlioz.

“I really feel the audience is going to enjoy this concert because it’s a hearty plate of really strong and varied French music,” said Dayton Opera artistic director Thomas Bankston. “I’m particularly excited we’re doing selections from operas the Dayton Opera hasn’t produced before, specifically two arias from ‘Werther’ which are real staples of the operatic repertoire. It’s also wonderful to present a nice chunk of music from ‘The Tales of Hoffman,’ which is another opera Dayton audiences haven’t seen. And it feels so appropriate for us to go into the musical theater realm by presenting songs from ‘Les Misérables’ because we have presented musical theater in previous DPAA Season Opening Spectaculars. We all know ‘Les Misérables’ is a very popular show and I think the tunes we’re presenting will definitely resonate for the audience. I’m also excited about the three principal soloists who will be joining us for this great event.”

Dayton Opera’s guest soloists include two returning favorites and a promising newcomer. Mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakis returns having last performed with Dayton Opera as Amneris in the 2014 production of “Aida.” Tenor Jonathan Burton returns having portrayed Cavaradossi in the 2013 production of “Tosca.” Bass-baritone Wayne Tigges will make his Dayton Opera debut.

In addition, former Dayton Opera artist-in-residence Melissa Bonetti and Dayton Opera Chorus members Mark Hanson and Brad Mattingly will join the three featured vocalists in the excerpts from “The Tales of Hoffman.” The Dayton Opera Chorus is directed by chorus master Jeffrey Powell. The DPO chorus is directed by Wright State University music professor Hank Dahlman.

As the concert nears, DPO artistic director and conductor Neal Gittleman fondly recalls his time studying in Paris as a teenager in the 1970s under the guidance of renown composer/teacher Nadia Boulanger. It was an impactful education which broadened his artistic horizons.

“Living and studying in France gave me a great opportunity to deepen my appreciation for the French musical tradition and also to be exposed to other composers like Lully, Franck, Poulenc, and Duparc,” Gittleman noted.

With three distinctly different artistic formats providing an evening of innovative stagecraft and acclaimed vocal talent, Bankston is eager for patrons to be dazzled.

“I’m confident the audience will leave the concert with good feelings,” he said. “I think they will be well-pleased with the start of another great season with Dayton Opera and across the whole Alliance.”