Longwood University


Department of Music



An Evening of Opera




The Camerata Singers,

Directed by Dennis Malfatti



Christopher Swanson, tenor






Special Guest


Melissa Sumner, soprano



and pianists


Pamela Cordle

Carole Harper and

Celia Malfatti


“Ain’t it a pretty night”                                                                                  Carlisle Floyd

from Susannah                                                                                             (b. 1926)


Composed in 1955, Floyd's best known opera, Susannah is a retelling of the Book of Susannah set in rural Tennessee. It has become one of the few American operas to enter the regular repertoire of both American and international opera companies.

In New Hope Valley, Tennessee, in the 1950s, Susannah Polk, an attractive but innocent girl of nineteen, sits on her porch with her friend, Little Bat. They look up at the clear night sky and dream about the world beyond the mountains.


Melissa Sumner, soprano

Pamela Cordle, piano



* * * * *



“Lunge da lei…. De’ miei bollenti spiriti”                                                   Giuseppe Verdi

from La traviata                                                                                      (1813-1901)


In a country house, just outside of Paris, Alfredo Germont exults in his new life with Violetta Valéry, the former French courtesan.


Far from her there is no joy for me! Three months have already flown by since my Violetta abandoned luxuries, riches, loves, and the ostentatious parties where, accustomed to compliments, she saw everyone as her slave to her beauty. And now, content in these pleasant surroundings, she forgets it all for me. Here with her I feel myself reborn; and revitalized by the breath of love, I forget, in its joys,

all the past.


She tempered the youthful ardor of my burning spirits with her calm smile of love. Since the day

she said, “I want to live faithful to you, yes,” unconscious of the universe, I live almost in paradise.



“Ave maria”(a transcription of the “Intermezzo”)                                     Pietro Mascagni

            from Cavalleria Rusticana                                                                      (1863-1945)


Mascagni’s third opera, Cavalleria Rusticana was his first opera to be performed. It then became an international success. After its premiere in May 1890 in Italy, it was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in December 1891. Although it inspired many imitations by other composers, and Mascagni wrote several more operas, none of them achieved the success of this one.

The orchestral “Intermezzo” between the first and second scenes of this highly charged verismo opera, depicts the mood of the remorseful and broken hearted Santuzza. This adaption of the famous tune, set by Mascagni to the familiar sacred Latin text, creates a vastly different picture all together.


Hail May, full of grace, Lord with you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death. Amen.


Christopher Swanson, tenor

Celia Malfatti, piano


* * * * *

“Senza mamma”                                                                                        Giacomo Puccini

from Suor Angelica                                                                                 (1858-1924)


This one-act opera is the second in Puccini’s Il trittico of 1918. It tells the story of Sister Angelica, a young nun who was sent to a convent in Florence for giving birth out of wedlock. After years of waiting and wondering what has become of her child, Angelica’s aunt tells her that the child died two years earlier.


Without a mother, dearest, you died! Your sweet lips without my fond kisses grew white and cold as snow, and you closed your eyes, my darling. Then unable to caress me, your tiny hands were crossed on your chest, and you died without ever knowing with what wild passion your mother loved you. Now that you are an angel of the heavens, you will at last see your mother’s face. You can descend to me from up above and I seem to hear your flight through the space. I feel your caresses and kisses. Oh, tell me, when may I see you in heaven? When will I know your kisses? Oh sweetest end of all my bitter sorrows, tell me when I may hope to fly you, when will death overtake me? Do tell your mother, sweetest of all children, with bright light of yonder flickering stars, speak, oh speak, my sweet heart.


Melissa Sumner, soprano

Pamela Cordle, piano


* * * * *


“Tombe degl’avi miei…. Fra poco a me ricovero”                                  Gaetano Donizetti

            from Lucia di Lammermoor                                                                   (1797-1848)


Edgardo sits in a graveyard awaiting a duel with Enrico of Lammermoor, his sworn enemy and the brother of his love, Lucia. Lucia, however, has just married another man, although Edgardo does not realize that this was done against Lucia’s will. He prepares to meet his end this night at the hands of his enemy, as life without Lucia is not worth living.


Tomb of my ancestors, the last remnant of an unhappy family. Ah! Receive me. The fire of my wrath has ended quickly; I wish to abandon myself upon my enemy’s sword. For me, life is horrible pain! The entire universe is a desert without Lucia! Her castle still shines with torches. Ah, the night was so short for merry-making! Ungrateful woman! While I destroy myself in desperate weeping, you laugh and you exult; you of the joys in your bosom, and I of my death.


Soon a neglected grave will be my shelter. A compassionate tear will not fall on it. Even the comfort of the deceased is lacking, alas, miserable ones! You too will forget the despised marble tomb: never pass there, oh cruel one, with your husband at your side. Ah! Respect, at least, the ashes of he who died for you.


Christopher Swanson, tenor

Celia Malfatti, piano



* * * * *











“Song of the Moon”                                                                                   Antonín Dvorák

            (from Rusalka)                                                                                        (1841-1904)


Dvorák is best known today for his symphonic works, but during his lifetime he devoted himself to large-scale choral works and operas. He composed nine operas, most of them based on fairy-tales and folklore. Rusalka is a water nymph who has fallen in love with a human man and wishes to be made mortal so that she can leave the water. In this aria, Rusalka cries out to the moon to watch over her secret love. 


O moon high up in the deep, deep sky, your light sees far away regions, you travel round the wide, wide world peering into human dwellings. O, moon, stand still for a moment, tell me, ah, tell me where is my lover! Tell him, please, silvery moon in the sky, that I am hugging him firmly, that he should for at least a while remember his dreams! Light up his far away place, tell him, ah, tell him who is here waiting! If he is dreaming about me, may this remembrance waken him! O, moon, don't disappear!


Melissa Sumner, soprano

Pamela Cordle, piano



* * *  Intermission * * *



"Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour"                                                                      Jacques Offenbach

from Les Contes d'Hoffmann                                                                  (1819-1890)


M elissa Morgan, soprano (Giulietta)

Jaime Alvis, mezzo-soprano (Nicklausse)

Camerata Singers

Carole Harper, piano


Although German by birth, Jacque Offenbach spent most of his life in France. He was well known as a cellist and composer of operettas. He composed around one-hundred comic operettas during his life and one serious opera, Les contes d’Hoffmann, which he spent the last four years of his life composing. He dies four months before its premiere February 10, 1881.

The opera is based on three short stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) and follows the author as he chases his three loves, Olympia, Antonia, and Giulietta.  This barcarole takes place during the third act of the opera in a magnificent palace in Venice. Nicklausse and the courtesan Giulietta sing as they watch gondola drift past them.


Beautiful night, oh night of love, smile on our serene bliss, night sweeter than the day, oh beautiful night of love. Time flies without return, forgetting our tenderness! Far from this happy place, time flies without return. Impassioned Zephyrs, pour out to us your caresses. Impassioned Zephyrs, give us your kisses.



Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves                                                                        Giuseppe Verdi

from Nabucco


            Camerata Singers

            Carole Harper, piano


On the banks of the Euphrates, the Hebrews rest from forced labor. Their thoughts fly to their lost homeland.


Dearest homeland, my thoughts fly towards thee.  Wings of gold bear them onto journey's ending where sweet scented breezes are blending in the green hills and vales of our land.  Ah! to stand by the banks of the Jordan and to see Sion's woeful desolation!  O dear land, once the joy of our nation, now forever lost by Fate's cruel hand.


Golden harps of the prophets and seers of old, why so silently hang on the willows?  Lift your voice, stir our hearts, let the story be told of times now lost.  Let our song rise to thee, great Lord.  Hear the voice of thy people at last.



"Brindisi"                                                                                                      Giuseppe Verdi

from La Traviata


Lisa Jackson, soprano (Violetta)

Christopher Swanson, tenor (Alfredo)

                        Camerata Singers

Carole Harper, piano


A party is in progress at the Paris home of the courtesan Violetta Valéry. Upon welcoming her guests, she meets Alfredo Germont, who has admired Violetta from a distance for a year. When challenged to offer a toast for the hostess, he sings the famous “Brindisi,” in which Violetta and the other guests join.



Let us drink to the pleasures of youth and happiness, filled with delight and with rapture. Life is fleeting, so let us capture the moments of joy and bliss.  Let's drink to all the trembling hearts that love awakens

to passion.



 Ah! let's drink to love's delight.  Here's to the wine that fires every kiss!



With you, I could spend my life in a whirlwind of joy and laughter; live for each moment and not for here after drink of the cup while you may.  Rejoice in love's sweet happiness, a flower to keep and cherish for soon its blossom will perish, it's beauty fade away.  Rejoice, hear the voice of love!



Ah! rejoice for tonight we will make merry with wine;  all around there will be laughter and singing.



Finale of Act II, “Champagne Toast,” and “Sing to Love”                     Johann Strauss, II

from Die Fledermaus                                                                              (1825-1899)


            At the end of a lavish party at the villa of Prince Orlofsky, the guests make a toast to champagne,

he king of wines. They all join in singing a beautiful chorus to everlasting love and friendship.


Melissa Sumner, soprano (Adele)

Lisa Jackson, soprano (Rosalinda)

Hannah Born, mezzo-soprano (Orlofsky)

            Christopher Swanson, tenor (Eisenstein)

            Mark Rutherford, baritone (Falke)

            Camerata Singers

            Carole Harper, piano       


Melissa Sumner, soprano, has appeared widely in opera, oratorio, and in recital.  She has performed at Brevard Music Center and with Theatre Bristol, she is a MACCO Competition winner, and she also was a semi-finalist in the Orpheus Vocal Competition.  She recently returned from Rome, Italy, where she performed the title role of Suor Angelica with Opera festival di Roma.  Recent regional performances include a solo appearance in Haydn’s Mass in C with the Schola Cantorum in Waynesboro, Virginia and Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity with the Williamsburg Choral Guild. Ms. Sumner will be traveling to San Rafael, California in June to perform the role of Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo with the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater.

A native of Christiansburg, Virginia, Ms. Sumner is a graduate of Emory and Henry College.  There, she was the recipient of the Adrienne Aarow Davis Memorial Scholarship Award and the Kathy Bingham Fine Arts Scholarship for Excellence in the Arts.  She also holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Tennessee, where she performed leading roles with the University of Tennessee Opera Theatre. Roles include Giorgetta in Puccini’s Il Tabarro, Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, Sara Good in Robert Ward’s The Crucible, and Susannah in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. She made her professional operatic debut as Edith in Knoxville Opera’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. 

Melissa Sumner joined the music faculty at Mary Baldwin College this fall, and she also is a faculty member of Valley Music Academy, where she maintains both voice and piano studios. She is currently Director of Music at Pleasant View Lutheran Church and resides in Staunton, Virginia with her husband, Shawn Swisher.



* * * * *



Longwood University Camerata Singers

Dennis Malfatti, conductor

Carole Harper, accompanist



Heather DeSalme

Lisa Jackson

Jodi Loveless

Ashley Mitchell

Jessica Mohr      

Melissa Morgan

Myranda Pittard

Beth Reynolds    

Aubrey Richardson

Katie Thomas


Jaime Alvis       

Carrie Armistead

Nikki Bhumarom

Hannah Born      

Emily Conkey

Caitlin Dineen

Tiffany Graves

Heather Pink      

Kimberly Schonter

Bethany Warren


Reese Flory       

John Gilbert      

Ronald Morrison

Derek Ramsey    

Adam Stratton                






Bobby Brown     

Brent Fleisher Joshua Perkins       

Mark Rutherford 

Aaron Sletten     

Kenny Turner