Press Room

For Press Inquiries, contact Camille Cintrón Devlin, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications at 703-993-8794 or


September 17, 2008
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.




Friday, Oct. 17, 2008 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 at 2 p.m.

New staging by acclaimed returning stage director Lillian Groag, new set by Michael Ganio and new lighting by Richard Winkler

Return of soprano Eilana Lappalainen, tenor Gustavo López Manzitti and two-time Grammy Award-winning baritone Nmon Ford

Debuts of mezzo-soprano Jeniece Golbourne and bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam

Peter Mark conducts his 100th Virginia Opera production

FAIRFAX, Va., Sept. 17, 2008The sounds of steel swords clashing, hammers dealing ringing blows to anvils and the unmistakably beautiful music of Giuseppe Verdi’s action-packed "Il Trovatore" fills the air this fall as the Virginia Opera’s new production of this powerful classic comes to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Friday, Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. This production marks a significant milestone for Artistic Director Peter Mark – it is his 100th production conducted for the Virginia Opera in his 34 seasons with the company. The performance on Oct. 19 is Mark’s 700th appearance as conductor of a Virginia Opera production. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III.

Staged only three times in Virginia Opera’s 34-year history – the last in 1998 – "Il Trovatore" is a musical marvel that takes audiences on a chilling and twisted journey of lustful obsession and unforgiving revenge in 15th century Spain as the troubadour Manrico leads insurgent forces in combat against the wealthy Count di Luna, both men seeking to win the favor of beautiful Lenora. Meanwhile, neither is aware that the vengeful gypsy Azucena is pulling the strings – nor that they are actually brothers, separated at birth.

Making her long-awaited return as Leonora is the internationally sought-after Finnish-Canadian soprano Eilana Lappalainen, last seen as Violetta in the 1994 production of "La Traviata." Also returning are Argentina's Teatro Colón leading tenor Gustavo López Manzitti (Turiddu/Canio in "Cavalleria Rusticana"/"I Pagliacci," 2007) as Manrico, and two-time Grammy Award-winning Panamanian-American baritone Nmon Ford (Kurwenal in "Tristan & Isolde," 2005) as Count di Luna.

American mezzo-soprano Jeniece Golbourne makes her company debut as Azucena, along with Egyptian bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam as Ferrando.

Returning in the director's chair for this new production is Lillian Groag, praised time and again for her inspired staging of Virginia Opera productions that most recently include last year’s "Tales of Hoffmann" and "Agrippina." Also featured are a new set design by Michael Ganio and lighting by Richard Winkler.

"'Trovatore' is quintessential opera," says Peter Mark. "It’s grand, it's passionate, it’s filled with soaring melodies and exciting ensembles; and, having lived through ethnic cleansing and the kind of horrors we have witnessed recently, I do not find the story very far-fetched. Lillian [Groag] and I have decided to take it completely seriously and to try to find the inherent drama, which is there in every second of the music."

Adds Groag, “With three young sex-crazed people, and a mad woman who is a child murderess bent on vengeance, it is a thrilling story, and I promise you a thrilling production.”

“We wanted to create a production that allowed for a certain amount of psychological involvement,” says Ganio, whose previous collaborations with Groag at Virginia Opera include set designs for 'Fidelio' in 2004 and 'Tristan & Isolde' in 2005. “It is our personal experience that we come to the opera with, so our interpretation will always be unique. And I think in the work that I’ve done with Lillian and Peter, we’ve tried to allow for that, and audiences will be engaged with the opera because we've left them room to engage themselves.”

Maestro Mark will conduct both performances. The opera will be sung in Italian with Digitext Supertitles projected above the stage and an estimated running time – including one intermission – of two hours and 27 minutes.


The Center for the Arts is pleased to recognize the generous support of PNC and the PNC Foundation as sponsor of the 2008-09 Great Performances at Mason Season.

Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S "IL TROVATORE" are $86, $72, $44 (Friday) and $98, $80, $48 (Sunday). Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall and FREE parking is located in university lot K.  Visit

GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, the professional presenting arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.

About George Mason University

George Mason University, located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with national distinction in a range of academic fields. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering, information technology, biotechnology and health care, Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason’s Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Its School of Law is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 35 law schools in the United States.