WNYCO production of 'Having Guests for Dinner' features Fredonia students and alumnus

Doug Osborne-Coy
poster with name of opera work and photos of main characters

Three current students at SUNY Fredonia and one recent graduate have roles in the upcoming Western New York Chamber Orchestra (WNYCO) production of “Having Guests for Dinner.”

The performance is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18 in the Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall of Mason Hall on the Fredonia campus.

Tickets are available 24/7 online, by phone at (716) 673-3501 or in person at the Fredonia Ticket Office on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“Having Guests for Dinner” is a chamber opera by South Carolina composer Nick Bentz with libretto by Robert Feng. It follows a young, dysfunctional couple, Marcus and Laura, who are invited to a friend of a friend’s house for dinner. When they arrive, they meet their odd host, Christoph. Something seems off  and they begin to wonder if  there’s more on the menu than just beef and lamb.

The lead role of Christoph Aberfeld will be performed by Patrick Connolly, who recently completed his bachelor’s degree in Music Performance/Voice at Fredonia under the tutelage of Drs. Kimberly Upcraft and Patricia Corron.

During his time at Fredonia, Connolly credits included the principal role of John in the Hillman Opera 2022 production of Lee Hoiby’s “Summer and Smoke” and a recital performance of Schubert’s “Winterreise” with pianist Eun Joo Jeon.

Mia Mandineau, recent winner of the Buffalo/Toronto District of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2024 Laffont Competition, performs the role of Laura.

Mandineau is in her first year of study in Fredonia’s master’s degree in Music Performance/Voice  program on a full graduate assistantship under the tutelage of Dr. Don Marrazzo, with whom she completed her bachelor's degree at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (CvA) and her Artist Certificate at the Musical Horizons Conservatory in Athens.

The role of Marcus will be performed by Daniel Novak, a senior Music Education and Music Performance/Voice major from Lakeview, NY. He studies with Lynne McMurtry and his credits include the Hillman Opera productions of  “Die Fledermaus,” “Summer and Smoke” and “Il Matrimonio Segreto.”

Mr. Novak is a member of the Fredonia Chamber Choir and has appeared as a soloist for Schubert’s Mass in G with WNYCO. He currently serves as music director of the a cappella group Dynamic Intonation, business manager for another a cappella group, Much More Chill, and General Assembly representative of Student Opera Theatre Association (SOTA).

Dominic Townsend, a sophomore double major in Music Education and Music Performance/Voice from Youngstown, NY, is the understudy for the role of Christoph.

He studies with Professor Joe Dan Harper and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Julie Newell and made his Hillman Opera debut as Frank in “Die Fledermaus” this past fall. He is the secretary of the Student Opera Theatre Association (SOTA), the events coordinator for the American Choral Directors Association and is the music director of the a cappella group Much More Chill.

“Having Guests for Dinner” contains mature themes and dark comedy.
 

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