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Phillipsburg soprano Christina Lamberti will join the Lafayette Choirs as guest diva for “Gypsies, Monks, Police, Druids…The Opera Chorus” 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Lafayette's Williams Center for the Arts.

Led by Nina Gilbert, director of choral activities, the concerts are free and open to the public. The program features works by Bizet (Carmen), Verdi (La Traviata, Nabucco), Gershwin (Porgy & Bess), and others. Gilbert's experience with opera choruses includes preparing the New York Choral Society for the Richard Tucker Foundation Gala, broadcast from Lincoln Center, in 1995.

“Opera choruses make a rich program for a choir,” says Gilbert. “On the one hand, they are serious, respectable music. On the other hand, they are playful and fun. We get to try on musical personalities. We get to sing as if we were, say, giddy Japanese schoolgirls (Mikado), and then we get to portray monks in prayer (La forza del destino). We're the police in Pirates of Penzance, Hebrew slaves singing Psalms in Nabucco, and working townspeople in Carmen. We've also learned several styles of drinking songs — one for Italians drinking wine, another for Germans drinking beer, and another for Americans drinking rum.

“Christina is singing five scenes with us. In four of those operas, the soprano gets stabbed at the end of the opera; in the fifth she dies of tuberculosis. But we're singing scenes from nearer the beginning of each opera, so she gets to survive each one in our concert.”

In addition to choruses from ten operas, the program includes folk music from the Israeli, Scottish, Irish, and African-American traditions; Renaissance music from England and Italy; Psalm settings from Estonia, Elizabethan England, and Gregorian chant; and two salon pieces by Robert Schumann.

“Our audiences enjoy sing-along opportunities, so we've found an operetta chorus with a part for the audience: 'Stout-Hearted Men,' from The New Moon by Romberg and Hammerstein,” says Gilbert.

The choirs and Lamberti will give a concert preview noon Friday, April 26, at Interfaith Chapel, Hogg Hall. Free dessert and beverages will be provided.

“In the title role [of IphigĂ©nie en Tauride by Gluck], Christina Lamberti revealed a genuine spinto voice with exciting presence and the ability to infuse long, arching phrases with tremendous emotion,” noted an Opera News review. “Her soft singing was often ravishing.”

“The ability to convey emotion so vividly that an audience becomes totally enraptured in the moment is the rarest commodity in opera today. Fortunately, every once in a while a singer comes along who proves such artistry is still alive, as soprano Christina Lamberti did recently at the Merola Grand Finale concert in Davies Symphony Hall,” stated the Bay Area Reporter.

“Her cavernous chest notes were seamlessly woven into the rest of her rich vocal tapestry,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle. “Here is someone to watch.”

“Christina has a brilliant voice and is exhilarating to work with,” adds Gilbert. “We think she is destined to be a star, and we are excited to be able to say we knew her when she was just a little bit famous.”

Lamberti recently concluded a three-year Adler Fellowship with the San Francisco Opera. She sang many roles during her residence, including such operas as Death in Venice, Elektra, L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Clotilde in Norma, and Anna in Nabucco. She most recently covered the title role of Elettra in Mozart's Idomeneo and was called in the third act to substitute for an indisposed Carol Vaness. Her other credits include the title role in San Francisco Opera Center's 1998 production of Iphigenie en Tauride and its 1999 production Cosi fan Tutte, for which she sang the role of Fiordiligi. While at Adler she made her Festival Opera debut singing the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and was the Countess in its 1999 production of Le nozze di Figaro.

Lamberti began her studies at Westminster Choir College, where she appeared in productions of L'Enfant et les Sortileges, Les Dialogues des Carmelites, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and Warren Martin's Cinderella. She then studied with Claudia Pinza at Duquesne University and participated for three years in the Ezio Pinza Council for American Singers of Opera program in Oderzo, Italy. In the same period, she apprenticed at the Pittsburgh Opera Center under the direction of Tito Capobianco. Next, Lamberti studied at Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts, where her roles included Mimi in La Boheme, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan Tutte, and Alice Ford in Falstaff. She made her Opera Company of Philadelphia debut in the 1996 production of Aida before moving to San Francisco.

During a recent trip to Singapore and Manila, Lamberti she sang her first Leonora in Il Trovatore with the Singapore Lyric Opera. She made her debut with the Singapore Symphony in March.

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