Opera stars Dimitri Pittas and Leah Edwards take stage in Edwards for fundraiser | VailDaily.com

Opera stars Dimitri Pittas and Leah Edwards take stage in Edwards for fundraiser

Dimitri Pittas.
Special to the Daily |

If you go ...

What: “Rio Nights”, a fundraiser for the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center.

When: 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.

Where: Edwards Interfaith Chapel, 32138 U.S. Highway 6, Edwards.

Cost: $200 per person, includes dinner.

More information: Tickets can be purchased by contacting organizer Susan Washing at sbwashing1@gmail.com.

EDWARDS — It may seem like a stretch, but on Saturday, the Edwards Interfaith Chapel actually can be compared to the famed stages of the Metropolitan, Paris and Vienna opera houses.

For Rio Nights, a slate of world-caliber soloists will be performing at Edwards in the fifth installment of an annual series to support the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center.

“The evening is unique in that the theme of each evening has been a different international city, celebrated by fine food, wine and extraordinary music,” said organizer Susan Washing.

Washing said the series features artists performing a combination of classic arias, as well as selections from popular musicals. Through the years, Washing said the series has hosted some very talented sopranos, baritones and tenors. But this year, Washing said, the series is featuring some amazing talent.

“Dimitri Pittas is a legitimate star in the opera world, with lead performances at all the great opera houses, from the Met to Paris to Vienna. He is married to the lovely and talented soprano Leah Edwards, and together they are the power couple of opera today,” Washing said.

In addition, Rio Nights will include tenor Donald Groves, soprano Jessica Medoff and pianist Michael Bunchman.

Opera power couple

Married since 2010, Pittas and Edwards globe-trot and perform in concert together.

Pittas has appeared on leading opera stages throughout North America and Europe, including debuts with the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Canadian Opera Company.

Pittas is a graduate of The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and has been heard on the Met stage as Rodolfo in “La boheme,” Macduff in “Macbeth,” Nemorino in “L’elisir d’Amore” and Tamino in “Die Zauberflote.” His repertoire includes performances as the title role of Don Carlo, Alfredo in “La Traviata,” Tebaldo in “I Capuletti e i Montecchi,” Edgardo in “Lucia di Lammermoor” and the Duke of Mantua in “Rigoletto.” For his debut with the Canadian Opera Company as the Duke, the Toronto Star said, “Dimitri Pittas comes off the best as The Duke of Mantua, with a flexible voice that can express real love and shallow desire with equal conviction.”

Pittas began the current season at the Metropolitan Opera singing the role of Cassio in a new opening night production of “Otello,” directed by Bartlett Sher. He also performed the role of Alfred in “Die Fledermaus” at the Met, conducted by James Levine, and in Japan under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. On the concert stage, he will sing Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s “Requiem” with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and will also be presented in recital by the George London Foundation.

“Dimitri rarely performs except in the major world opera houses,” Washing said. “ This is an incredible coup.”

Edwards career highlights include time as a professional gymnast, dancer, pianist and singer. The long road across multiple disciplines ultimately led to her Broadway debut in 2011 as a member of the company of Terrence McNally’s Master Class.

She has had a unique career of combining all of her different disciplines, including performing as a vocal soloist with the New York City Ballet’s presentation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” as a company member of eight shows with New York City Center’s “Encores” series and was recently afforded the chance to both perform the role and dance the dream ballet as Laurey Williams in “Oklahoma.”

Fine Dining, Intimate setting

Beyond the top-tier talent offered for “Rio Nights,” the event will also offer fine dining and an intimate setting.

Food for Rio Nights will be presented by local chef David Walford.

“Guests listen to some of the finest operatic voices in the country bringing you beloved arias and ballads in an intimate cabaret setting,” Washing said. “It makes for a very special evening, even if you are not a true opera buff.”