Pirates take over Providence

Pirates take over Providence

Cumberland singer featured in 'Pirates of Penzance'

PROVIDENCE - Playing cautious sister Edith, a Cumberland singer will take to the stage this month for Opera Providence's production of "The Pirates of Penzance," which will be performed at the restored Columbus Theater, 270 Broadway, on June 14, 15, 21 and 23.

Mezzo-soprano Kristen Charpentier will be among the cast.

Charpentier, daughter of Leo and Elaine Charpentier, is a north Cumberland native who has been singing since she was a child.

"I have always been part of either church choirs or school choirs," she said.

During her time at Bishop Feehan High School, she participated in musical theater, chorus and jazz choir. She then went on to graduate with a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from the Boston Conservatory.

She is currently a member of both the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and its Chamber Choir.

Though she had always thought she would go into musical theater, Charpentier made the switch in genres after a voice teacher convinced her that her voice was more operatic.

Though Charpentier said she has done a lot of workshops and scene work, she auditioned for Opera Providence earlier this year and got the part.

She has previously participated in the Crittenden Opera Workshop in 2011 and 2012 in Boston, as well as in the Coaching Divas Audition Workshop at Boston University in June 2012.

Charpentier has participated in Rhode Island College's Opera Workshop for various roles and as a chorus member for the world premiere of "Into the Cautious Season" by Dr. James Bohn in spring 2012. She appeared on stage in the New England Conservatory Summer Opera Studio.

"The Pirates of Penzance" cast is led by Nathaniel Merchant, stage director, and Rene de la Garza, artistic director.

Charpentier will sing alongside internationally acclaimed soprano Julieanne Gearhart, who plays heroine Mabel, sister to Charpentier's Edith.

"She's sort of the sister who looks out for everyone else," Charpentier said of her role. "She's the more sensible one, I guess you could say."

Mabel, on the other hand, is more daring of Major-General Stanley's daughters, falling in love with pirate Frederic, played by tenor Joshua Collier.

Frederic celebrates the end of his pirate apprenticeship upon reaching the age of 21 and believes he, as a reformed citizen, must now bring the men to justice. But a twist in Frederic's contract means he must remain with the pirates for another 63 years, putting the new romance in jeopardy.

The cast features bass-baritone Ryne Cherry as the Pirate King, comic baritone Andy Papas as Major-General Stanley, mezzo-soprano Arielle Rogers as Mabel's other sister Kate, and Boston-based contralto Ana Maria Ugarte as pirate maid Ruth.

Robert DeRobbio, president of Opera Providence's board, said in a release that five years ago, the group would not have imagined putting on such a beautiful show.

"For the most part this farce is a madcap ballet of Victorian characters, props and set pieces zipping on, around and off the stage, giving a relentless momentum to the playfully jabbing social satire," he said. "But there are also moments of tenderness, poignant romance and wry humor."

The comic opera with drama and romance is the story that those familiar with it will expect, Charpentier said, acknowledging that there are some stylistic changes, thanks to "fantastic" director Merchant. But she's staying mum about those.

"He's definitely taking a new perspective on it," she said. "It's something different."

Shows are at 8 p.m. on Fridays, June 14 and 21, and Saturday, June 15. The show on Sunday, June 23, is at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $35 or $60 per person. For more information, visit www.operaprovidence.org or call the Opera Providence office at 401-331-6060.