Director John DeGaetano thought he would have trouble finding one Evita for the production of Evita opening June 21 at the Raven Performing Arts Theater. Instead, he found two.
DeGaetano is so spoiled for choice that he’s got two gifted sopranos taking turns as Eva Perón, wife of the Argentine dictator, Juan Perón. “We have a wonderful opportunity to bring two different looks to this demanding role,” says DeGaetano, with the air of a man who’s asked for a tree and been given an orchard. As well as his two Evitas, he’s thrilled to have the singing sensation Pedro Rodelas, “a superb artist,” as Che Guevara.
Part of the fun of seeing the Raven’s Evita will be the question, “Which soprano?” Will it be well-traveled Lauren Post from San Jose (the one in California)? Or Ana Laura Nicolicchia, a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who heard about the production and John’s search and expressed interest through a series of online auditions with him?
A singer all her life, California native Lauren Post has a degree in Vocal Performance from California State University, Chico. She’s toured the seven seas as a headlining singer for Carnival Cruise Lines, where she debuted her one-woman show. Recently, she’s been a soloist in several venues in California, and she also sings in the Festival Chorale under the direction of Maestro Runnicles from the San Francisco Opera at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming.
Ana Laura Nicolicchia, born into a family of musicians in Buenos Aires, studied opera under Professor Andres Bugallo, Choir Director of La Plata City Cathedral, who guided her through acceptance to the Classical Music Conservatory of Buenos Aires and induction into the prestigious Musiké National Choir. She has also performed in England and Italy and collaborated in English and Spanish with Barbara Streisand’s band members.
Pedro Rodelas has a Master of Vocal Performance degree from the University of Maryland and a B.A. in English Literature from U. C. Berkeley. As a part-time member of the San Francisco Opera chorus, he performs regularly with “The Three Waiters,” and has played “Chef Pierre” for eight annual Bracebridge Dinners at Yosemite National Park. His operatic stage credits include principal roles in La Bohème, Carmen, Tosca, and Madame Butterfly. Musical theater credits include Tony from West Side Story and Harold Hill from The Music Man.
John DeGaetano, whose most recent musical directorial credits include Chicago, Cats, and Pirates of Penzance, is living up to his reputation for taking on challenging productions. “There are more than 100 people involved in the production, and we’ve taken great pains to get everything right. It’s exciting that soon, the actors cast to play the leads and supporting roles will be showing their unique vision of what the life and times of Evita were really like.”
The musical debuted in London’s West End in 1978, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. “In some ways,” notes DeGaetano, “Evita is a Cinderella story turned on its head—the little girl from Los Toldos, a poor village far from Buenos Aires. Ambitious and magnetic, she was a starlet at 22, the president’s mistress at 24, and First Lady at 27, only to die of cancer at 33.” Although unscrupulous on her scramble to the top, once there, Evita advocated for los descamisados, “the shirtless ones,” and championed workers’ and women’s rights, leaving a political legacy about which opinions still vary.
Evita is a Raven Players Production. Show dates: June 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30; July 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14. Sunday matinées start at 2 pm; all other dates at 8 pm. Tickets available online at Raven Theater Website in limited quantities and other ticket locations.