Civic Music Association presents ‘Opera in the Garden’ June 10

GREEN BAY — Professional opera performance comes to Northeastern Wisconsin with the outdoor vocal concert “Opera in the Garden” at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 10, 2018 at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, 2600 Larsen Road.

Featured performers will be summer-residency vocalists from the Florentine Opera Company of Milwaukee. Also appearing, in a brief separate “set,” will be two young teaching and vocal professionals with Green Bay ties.

Music will include classic and light opera by Rossini, Donizetti, Leoncavallo and Gounod, as well as musical theatre and American standards from the 1920s, ’30s and ‘40s by George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, and others. (See below for program and artist details.)

The June 10 event is believed to be the first summer program and first outdoor concert in the 90-year history of the Brown County Civic Music Association.  The free concert is a bonus to the Association’s customary five-concert, subscription series of visiting classical performances. Board president Christopher Sampson describes it as community outreach and a thank-you to membership, as well as a way to reconnect with the organization’s history.

“In the 1960s and ‘70s Civic Music was bringing in top Met stars on a regular basis when schedules and economics allowed, people like Roberta Peters, Robert Merrill, Birgit Nilsson,” Sampson says. “For a time, not too long ago, Green Bay had its own company doing fully staged opera. Even now as it has become a little harder to find, there’s still interest in live opera.”

The choice of venue highlights the new Billie Kress Amphitheatre, which opened last fall as part of the GBBG’s Schneider Family Grand Garden. Lawn seating is free, with gates open to the general public at 3 p.m. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets, folding chairs and, should they choose, their own picnic baskets and coolers. (No liquor carry-ins allowed.) Beverages and picnic/cookout fare also will be available at concession stands. A limited number of reserved seats on the Cowles Terrace near the stage, if available, will be $10 per chair.

The rain site is Cornerstone Foundation Hall located in the Schneider Education Center. If indoors, seating preference will be given to those who reserved Cowles Terrace tickets, with standing room only for those admitted free. To find out if the concert has been moved indoors, after 10 a.m. on the 10th please go to or call the garden at (920) 490-9457.

The June 10 concert presented by Brown County Civic Music is one of six in the Botanical Garden’s inaugural Schneider Family Grand Concert Series. The others are:  June 2, Vic Ferrari Symphony on the Rocks;  July 1, Civic Symphony of Green Bay Pops Concert;  Aug. 3, Sounds of Nashville;  Aug. 26, Grass Roots Festival;  Sept. 21, Brews, Bistros and Bonfires.

For logistical info on “Opera in the Garden,” at 4 p.m. June 10, visit

Civic Music Association presents ‘Opera in the Garden’ June 10 (continued)…

Performance Details:

Performers from the Florentine Opera Company, along with their keyboard accompanist:

Nicole Heinen (Soprano)
Heinen, a Wisconsin native, holds a bachelor’s from the Eastman School of Music and a master’s in performance from UW-Madison. Recently, she played Mademoiselle Silberklang in Der Schauspieldirektor and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She has toured with Opera for the Young and participated with them in the Ravinia Festival.

Briana Moynihan (Mezzo-soprano)
Moynihan, holding a master’s from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, has portrayed the roles of Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Chief Elder in The Giver and more. She has won numerous competitions, including a Metropolitan Opera National Council district competition.

Nicholas Huff (Tenor)
Huff has successfully taken on many roles, most recently as Joseph Treat in Victoria Bond’s opera Mrs. President, in his debut at the Rochester Lyric Opera. He has performed with the Toronto Summer Opera Workshop and the Eastman Opera Theater.  Recently, he was a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with the New York State Ballet.

Stephen Hobe (Baritone)
Hobe, from Chicago, has performed recently as Silvio in Pagliacci at Main Street Opera. He has performed regionally with Music Theater Works, Main Street Opera, NewMoon Theatre, Towle Theatre, Chicago Summer Opera, North Park University, as well as internationally with La Musica Lirica in Novafeltria, Italy.

Accompanist Ruben Piirainen, keyboard
Piirainen holds degrees in piano performance from the Lawrence University Conservatory and Bowling Green State. His credits include the Florentine Opera’s @ The Center Series; numerous performances with Skylight Music Theatre; Present Music; Festival City Symphony and the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra.

Two young singers with Green Bay ties and professional opera experience will be returning to perform in the June 10 concert as a way to highlight the strength of vocal education locally:

Soprano Emily (Brand) Oehrtman is a faculty member at Muskingum (Ohio) University. She studied at Green Bay Preble High School, the Eastman School of Music, Penn State and the New England Conservatory before earning her doctorate at Ohio State. Chicago-based mezzo soprano Anna Parks, whose parents live in De Pere, studied at Viterbo University and the Chicago College of Performing Arts and was a participant last year in Madison Opera’s summer studio program. Their accompanist is pianist Elaine Moss, a faculty member with St. Norbert College.

Expected selections: Pieces performed as solos or duets by the two local performers will be announced from the stage. Florentine Opera shares the following as their part of the program.

  • Je veux vivre, Roméo et Juliette, Gounod
  • Da quell suon soavemente, La Bohème, Leoncavallo
  • Una furtiva lagrima, L’elisir d’amore (The Elixer of Love), Donizetti
  • Largo al factotum, Il barbieri di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), Rossini

— Intermission —

  • Come Fly with Me (1957), James Van Heusen & Sammy Cahn, arr: Mac Huff
  • Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (1940, words 1942), Duke Ellington & Bob Russell, arr: Mark Hayes
  • Moonglow (1933), words & music: Will Hudson, Eddie DeLange & Irving Mills, arr: Darmon Meader
  • The Girl I Love (1924), music: George Gershwin, lyrics: Ira Gershwin
  • Love Walked In (1930), music: George Gershwin, lyrics: Ira Gershwin, arr: Ed Lojeski
  • Blue Moon (1934), music: Richard Rodgers, lyrics: Lorenz Hart
  • I’ve Got the World on A String (1932), 21st Cotton Club series, Harold Arlen, lyrics: Ted Koehler
  • It’s only A Paper Moon (1933), The Great Magoo, music: Harold Arlen; lryics: Billy Rose, E. Y. Harburg
  • That Old Black Magic (1942), Star Spangled Rhythm, music: Harold Arlen, lyrics: Johnny Mercer
  • Over the Rainbow(1939). The Wizard of Oz, music: Harold Arlen, lyrics: Ted Koehler
  • Get Happy (1929), The Nine-Fifteen Revue, music: Harold Arlen, lyrics: Ted Koehler, arr: Philip Kern
  • Till We Meet Again (1918), music: Richard A. Whiting; words: Raymond B. Egan, arr: Stewart