Wagner sopranos Jenny Ribeiro, Janice Edwards, Joanna Porackova / Courtesy photo

'Great introduction to opera,' PACC says

Three professional opera singers presented portions of the works of Richard Wagner at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 5, 2024, at Park Avenue Congregational Church (PACC), 50 Paul Revere Road, Arlington.

 "Wagner's Women: Archetypes and Inspirations," featured three members of the Berlin Wagner Group: Jenny Ribeiro, Janice Edwards and Joanna Porackova. Jeffrey Brody provides the accompaniment, and Dalia Geffen the narration.

The concert was "a rare opportunity to hear world-class opera singers and expert narration on what inspired Wagner to create such remarkable music for his wonderful female opera characters," a PACC news release said.

"This concert promises to be quite magical, especially given the narration by Dalia Geffen, who has taught courses on Wagner's women in local colleges," the news release said. "While Wagner experts would find this concert to be of interest, I believe that it would [also] prove a great introduction to opera and Wagner for those who would not ordinarily attend a concert with this type of music."

Advance ticket reservations were $18 for adults, and $12 for seniors and students. Tickets may be requested via email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or by calling 781-643-8680. These will be held for payment at the door. If purchased on the day of the concert without reservations, tickets will cost $23 for adults and $15 for seniors and students. See the listing on Arts Boston for details.

Founded in 2017 by American opera singers and based in Germany, the Berlin Wagner Group, led by Peter Furlong, aims to bring a deeper appreciation for Wagner’s music -- and the composers he influenced -- to New England audiences.

Soloists' provided biographies

"Jenny Ribeiro, soprano, is an award-winning [opera singer] who has been seen on opera, concert and recital stages throughout the United States and Europe. Her roles include Dritte Norn in Götterdämmerung, Giulietta in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Musetta and Mimi in La Boheme, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, Lady Macbeth in Lady Macbeth, Geraldine in A Hand of Bridge and Lady Billows in Albert Herring. Highlights of the 23/24 season include company and role debuts in contemporary operas with Detroit Opera and Toronto’s Opera by request, as well as solo recitals in musical theater and opera.

"Janice Edwards, mezzo-soprano, is a singer whose career has taken her from the USA to Prague and Copenhagen, where she has performed in opera, oratorio and concerts with the Czech Radio Orchestra (Das Lied von der Erde), the Danish Sinfonietta (Defalla’s El Amor Brujo and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder), among others. Janice’s first Wagner role was Fricka (Die Walküre) in the Arizona Opera Ring Cycle in the 1990s. She was among the artists to participate in the Berlin Wagner Group’s debut concert, “Wagner’s Ring in One Evening” in the summer of 2022, performed at New Hampshire’s Colby Sawyer College, and [she says she] is excited to be continuing her collaboration with the Berlin Wagner Group.

"Joanna Porackova, mezzo-soprano, has been hailed for her “passion and skill” (New York Times), “soaring majesty” (Opera News) and “heartfelt inner drama, huge range” (Boston Globe). She has been engaged with the Paris Opera, Grand Theater Tours, Bern, Stralsund, Klagenfurt and Hong Kong operas, and in Die Walküre at the Aix in Provence and Easter Salzburg Festivals with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. She won critical acclaim singing Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer for the directorial debut of Katharina Wagner at the Würzburg Theater. She has sung the title roles of Isolde, Turandot, Norma, Aida and Salome. In the USA, she has performed with the Boston Lyric Opera, Baltimore Opera and Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center. and the Arts Musica Chorale in Alice Tully Hall (NY). She has sung recitals with the New York, Chicago and Boston Wagner societies and performed with the Berlin Wagner Group USA inaugural concert.

"Jeffrey Brody, music director/arranger/pianist, has been responsible for musical preparation for Seattle Opera's critically acclaimed production of Wagner's Ring, the Opera Company of Boston and the Boston Lyric Opera, among others. As music director for Longwood Opera, he prepared and performed in more than 70 complete operas and 100 concerts. That company premiered Brody's The Measure of Love, called a sure-fire hit by the Boston Herald, as well as his dramatic opera, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  His non-operatic works have been featured in Boston's Symphony Hall, the Washington National Cathedral, the Vienna Konzerthaus and, most recently, in the Berlin Philharmonie.  As Boston Wagner Society's music director, he has selected artists and frequently accompanied their performances of Wagner's music.

"Dalia Geffen, script writer/narrator, is the founder and former president of the Boston Wagner Society. She has taught courses on Wagner’s women and currently serves on the boards of both the Berlin Wagner Group and the Boston Wagner Society. She is also the publisher and editor of Wagneriana, the Wagner Society’s quarterly journal."

Background on PACC programming

The PACC Concert Series as a whole showcases musical talent in a wide range of styles, from classical to folk and jazz. The series started 33 years ago when the PACC Music Committee sought ways to fund the restoration of the church’s historic Skinner pipe organ. For more information about the PACC Concert Series, visit www.pacc-ucc.org/events/concertseries or call the church office at 781-643-8680.

PACC welcomes everyone to attend its many other in-person and online events, as described on its website, www.pacc-ucc.org. PACC is at Park Avenue and Paul Revere Road (one block from Mass. Ave. in Arlington Heights). It is handicapped-accessible and easily reachable by foot from MBTA bus route 77.

Dec. 2, 2023: Park Ave. church present annual Christmas concert

This news announcement was published Thursday, April 25, 2024, based on information from Kathleen Fink of Park Avenue Congregational Church in Arlington Heights. It was updated Sunday evening, May 5, 2024, to note that the concert took place earlier that day.