Mar 142014
 
(image via New Orleans Opera Association)

(image via New Orleans Opera Association)

Selections from an opera composed in the 1800s as an homage to “Tabasco” hot sauce and subsequently lost for more than a century will be performed for the first time in 120 years Saturday (March 15) at Trinity Episcopal Church.

The performance is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. For details, see the news release below:

120-YEAR-OLD LOST OPERA COMES HOME TO NEW ORLEANS

Conductor Paul Mauffray to Revive Historic “Tabasco” Opera for One Night Only

On Saturday, March 15th – for the first time in nearly 120 years – excerpts from the “Tabasco” opera, a lighthearted comedic operetta last performed on a nationwide tour in 1894, will be revived by native son and conductor Paul Mauffray.

The “Tabasco” opera was originally produced as a fundraiser for the First Corps of Cadets, a volunteer militia in Boston. The opera was so well received that producer Thomas Q. Seabrooke purchased the rights and gained permission from John A. McIlhenny, then president of Tabasco® Sauce operations, to take the musical on tour across the country. After the nationwide tour in 1894, copyright disputes between the producer and composer forced the production to cease and the “Tabasco” opera was never performed again.

On a mission to understand the history of opera in New Orleans, Mauffray uncovered a vocal score of “Tabasco,” which eventually led him to track down the full, hand-written autograph score. After several years’ work painstakingly reconstructing the opera, Mauffray has completed 40 of the estimated 90 minutes of music, which will be performed in partnership with McIlhenny Company as “A Taste of Tabasco.” The performance will take place on Saturday, March 15th, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Episcopal Church (1329 Jackson Avenue) in New Orleans and is open to the public free of charge.

The full “Tabasco” opera – set in Tangiers – follows a shipwrecked Irish sailor as he searches for an acceptable spicy ingredient for an Ottoman ruler’s lunch. The original opera was composed by George Whitefield Chadwick and follows the style of Gilbert & Sullivan, Johann Strauss, John Phillip Sousa and Stephen Foster.

“McIlhenny Company takes great pride in preserving and celebrating our 145-year history, of which the ‘Tabasco’ opera plays no small part,” said Tony Simmons, McIlhenny Company President and CEO and fifth-generation family member. “We are pleased to support Paul Mauffray as he brings to life one of the more musical moments in our history.”

A native of Slidell, Mauffray studied classical music and jazz at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), where he took piano lessons from Moses Hogan. He began conducting while studying at Louisiana State University and abroad in Germany and the Czech Republic. After 15 years of professional conducting in Europe with orchestras and in opera houses primarily in Prague, Bratislava, Lyon, Salzburg, and Vienna, he earned his graduate degree in conducting from Indiana University and has since conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg and frequently performs with a violin-soloist from the Vienna Philharmonic.

For this performance, Mauffray will conduct soprano Betsy Uschkrat, mezzo-soprano Rebeccka Coe, tenor Tyler Smith, baritone Taylor Miller, bass-baritone Kenneth Weber, the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, and musicians from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

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