Press Room

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


August 23, 2011
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. 14, 2011 at 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 at 2 p.m. 


FAIRFAX, Va., Aug. 18, 2011 – The Virginia Opera kicks off its 2011-12 season with the Virginia Opera premiere of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida,” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011 at 2 p.m. Set in Ancient Egypt, this grand opera is the heartbreaking tale of a bitter love triangle and an epic struggle between two warring nations. A pre-performance discussion, free to ticket holders, begins 45 minutes prior to each performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

Commissioned by Ishmail Pasha, the viceroy of Egypt, “Aida” tells the story of an Ethiopian princess, Aida, who is enslaved in Egypt and secretly loves the military commander, Radames. The story becomes tangled even further when Amneris, the daughter of the Pharaoh, tricks Aida to discover her true feelings for the young warrior, whom she also loves, but suspects the feeling is not mutual. When the Ethiopian forces are defeated and Aida’s father is captured, Radames must choose between his love for Aida and his loyalty to the Pharaoh.

The new production stars artists who are returning to Virginia Opera after having had genuine triumphs with the company in previous seasons. Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams, who sings the title role of Aida, received critical acclaim in the title role of Virginia Opera’s 2009 production of “Tosca.” Mezzo-soprano Jeniece Golbourne, who sings the role of Amneris, thrilled Virginia audiences with her dramatic interpretation of Azucena in Virginia Opera’s 2008 production of “Il Trovatore.” Baritone Fikile Mvinjelwa, who sings the role of Amonasro, drew high praise for his portrayal in the title role in Virginia Opera’s 2010 production of “Rigoletto.” Tenor Gustavo Lopez Manzitti, who sings the role of Radames, returns to the Virginia Opera for his fourth guest appearance; his previous roles include Turiddu in “Cavalleria Rusticana,” Canio in “I Pagliacci” and Manrico in “Il Trovatore.” Bass Ashley Howard Wilkinson returns as Ramphis, after having performed Ferrando in Virginia Opera’s 1989 production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.” Completing the principal artist cast is bass Nathan Stark as the King of Egypt, who has previously appeared with the Virginia Opera as Colline in “La Bohème,” the Commendatore in “Don Giovanni” and Sparafucile in “Rigoletto.” Two Spectrum Resident Artists make their company debuts in this production: soprano Kaileen Miller sings the role of the High Priestess and tenor Drew Duncan debuts as A Messenger.

John DeMain conducts the season-opening new production of “Aida.” DeMain, who currently holds the dual posts of music director of the Madison Symphony and artistic director of Madison Opera in Madison, Wis., is well known as a regular guest on the podiums of America’s leading opera companies. The orchestra for this Virginia Opera production is provided by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Acclaimed director Lillian Groag directs “Aida.” Groag works in the theater as an actress, writer and director. In the past several years, operas that Groag has directed for Virginia Opera include “Agrippina,” “Tales of Hoffmann,” “Il Trovatore,” “Don Giovanni,” “Così Fan Tutte” and “The Valkyrie.

The Virginia Opera partners with the Richmond Ballet for this production of “Aida.” Malcolm Burn, ballet master of Richmond Ballet, choreographs the production with Groag.

“Aida” is sung in Italian with English supertitles. Images will be available online at www.vaopera.orgpress in the coming weeks. The Virginia Opera may also be found on the web, at, on Twitter at and Facebook at



Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S production of VERDI’S “AIDA” are Friday - $44, $72, $86 and Sunday - $48, $80, $98. 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


About Great Performances at Mason

Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University's Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.


About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University – Where Innovation Is Tradition.