Noah's Flood

Noahs Flood - Noah sends out the ravenBritten’s Noah’s Flood (Noye’s Fludde)

November 15 & 16, 2013 – 8:00 PM
November 17, 2013 – 2:30 PM
Trinity Episcopal Church, Jackson Avenue

Buy tickets!

Tickets for today’s performance are available at the Trinity Box office an hour and a half before curtain.

[highlight]Children’s tickets only $5.00.  Visit the box office for this special price![/highlight]

UNDERSTAND EVERY WORD Sung in English with English texts projected above the stage.
New Orleans Opera celebrates Benjamin Britten’s centennial with our first production by this great 20th-century master! Britten’s hour-long setting of the medieval Chester Miracle Play unites professional and youth musicians in a wondrous and touching portrayal of the biblical account of the Great Flood and the building of Noah’s ark. The composer wrote this captivating liturgical music drama expressly for church performances and we have the perfect host in Trinity Episcopal Church. Our professional cast will include television celebrity Norman Robinson in the speaking role of God and artists from the Metropolitan Opera, leading regional performers, and featured soloists of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. This special collaboration will also feature the accompaniment of the Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestra and the participation of New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, Trinity Episcopal Bell Choir, and a chorus comprised of students from Benjamin Franklin Elementary, Gentilly Terrace, International School of LA, Jesuit High School, John Ehret High, Kipp Believe, Kipp Central City, Kipp McDonogh #15, Langston Hughes Middle, Lusher Charter School, McMain Senior High, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Saint Agnes Catholic School, Saint Leo Catholic School, Saint Mary Academy, Saint Rosalie Catholic School, Trinity Episcopal School, Ursuline Academy, and many more. This is a wonderful performance for adults and children alike! Specially priced tickets for this event reflect the more intimate church venue. DON’T LET THE ARK SAIL WITHOUT YOU!  

Parking Trinity Episcopal Church is located on Jackson Avenue between Coliseum and Chestnut Streets.  Parking may be found along Jackson Ave. and in the surrounding neighborhood.  A limited number of handicapped parking spaces are available in the circle driveway next to the church.

Entrances There are two entrances to the church: through the front doors and up the stairs (from Jackson Avenue) and via the side entrance near the book store (wheelchair-accessible). From the side entrance, bear left for stairs or elevator access to the sanctuary (seating areas A, B, C).  The balcony (seating area D) can be reached via stairs only.

Box Office
The Box Office will be located near the book store at the ground level side entrance.  You may purchase tickets, replace lost or forgotten tickets, or pick up your will-call tickets at this location.

Seating Info Seating sections will be designated by ribbons of four different colors: purple (A), green (B), gold (C), and blue-and-white (D).  Your ticket color reflects the section in which you should be seated.  Seating within each section is on a first-come, first-served basis.  There will be ushers to assist you.

Nuts & Bolts Nuts & Bolts will still be held one hour prior to the performance in the Chapel, which may be accessed via the side entrance. There will be signs to guide you.

Director / Conductor: Robert Lyall [sections] [section title=”Cast”]Click each cast name to see their picture, bio, and more information!

[/section] [section title=”Voice of God – Norman Robinson”]

Norman Robinson - Noah - GodNorman Robinson is the senior news anchor for WDSU News. Recently semi-retiring from his daily assignments, he is currently anchoring the 6pm news. He is also the moderator for the awarding winning Hot Seat broadcast, which has held politicians and policy makers accountable and the public informed since Hurricane Katrina. Robinson has been part of the journalistic landscape in New Orleans since 1976. His awards are numerous: covering crime, politics, tragedy and humor. The most coveted: The prestigious Nieman Fellowship award to Harvard University, where he is currently a member of the Nieman Fellowship advisory board. Most recently he received the “Golden Mic” award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters and the lifetime achievement award from the New Orleans Press Club.

Robinson was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1951. He was raised in Toomsuba, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, and Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked for broadcast outlets in Southern California, Mobile, New Orleans, New York City and Washington, D.C. where he was a member of the White House Press Corps as a Correspondent for CBS News. He has interviewed news subjects from presidents to paupers.

[/section] [section title=”Noah – Arthur Woodley”]

Arthur Woodley - Noah - Mr Noah1American bass Arthur Woodley recently won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Emille Griffith in the world premiere of Terrance Blanchard’s Champion at the Opera Theater of St. Louis.  He has appeared with prestigious companies all over the U.S. including San Francisco Opera, Seattle Opera,  Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera,  Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.  His many roles have included Varlaam in Boris Godunov, Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro, the Four Villains in Les Contes d’Hoffman, Kuno in Die Freischütz, Banquo in Macbeth, Nick Shadow in The Rake’s Progress, Sulpice in La Fille du Régiment, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Rocco in Fidelio, Publio in La Clemenza di Tito, Angelotti in Tosca, Achillas in Guilio Cesare, and Dansker in Billy Budd.  Mr. Woodley has a distinguished history with the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess, singing the role in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, and on tour in Italy.  In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival, the Savolinna International Festival in Finland, and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opera’s debut.

[/section] [section title=”Mrs. Noah – Victoria Livengood”]

Victoria Livengood - Noah - Mrs Noah -HRGrammy nominated Metropolitan Opera star Victoria Livengood has been hailed as “one of the leading singer-actresses of her generation.” Since her acclaimed Met debut with James Levine in 1991, she skyrocketed onto the opera scene, known for her dynamic portrayals in more than 100 Met performances, including the title role of Carmen opposite Plácido Domingo. She has sung over 75 roles with opera companies around the world, including Barcelona, Madrid, Salzburg, Buenos Aires, Taipei, Las Palmas, Monte Carlo, Nice, Santiago, Cologne, Vancouver, Montreal, and at Italy’s Spoleto Festival. Nevertheless, it is in America that this Dixie Diva bases her career, having sung leading roles with the companies of Chicago, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Washington DC, Seattle, Houston, Boston, Baltimore, Portland, Miami, Fort Worth, Anchorage, Hawaii, and with the New York City Opera. Upcoming performances include a return to the Metropolitan Opera in Arabella, returns to Houston and Hawaii, and her debut with the Utah Opera in Salome, as well as the Lincoln Center Music Festival.

[/section] [section title=”Sem – Kameron Lopreore”]

Kameron Lopreore - Noah - SemKameron Lopreore, a tenor from Lacombe, Louisiana, is a senior vocal performance major at Loyola University under the tutelage of Professor Philip Frohnmayer. He has performed a variety of roles including the title character from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide as well as Prince Paul from Offenbach’s The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein. He looks forward to perform Tamino in Mozart’s The Magic Flute in January. Kameron has also been a featured soloist in a number of choral works including Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and Bach’s Magnificat. He has been a proud New Orleans Opera chorister for three seasons and he is very excited to sing the role of Sem, especially because of his deep love for Benjamin Britten and all of his works.

[/section] [section title=”Ham – Rahim Mandal”]

Rahim Mandal – Noah - HamBaritone Rahim E. Mandal, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a recent graduate of Loyola University of New Orleans’ College of Music (’13) where he was awarded the Most Outstanding Voice Student Award under the tutelage of Loyola professor and alumni Dreux Montegut. This past summer, Mr. Mandal studied under Maitland Peters in Manhattan School of Music’s Summer Voice Festival where he sang the role of Nerone in Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. This is Rahim Mandal’s first role with New Orleans Opera and third season as a chorister. Mr. Mandal has done solo work all around New Orleans recently chosen to cantor the Baccalaureate Mass and sing the national anthem at his own commencement ceremony. Mr. Mandal has been a soloist in several concerts including Mozart’s Requiem and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G Minor but most notably performed at Plácido Domingo’s Gala in New Orleans Opera’s last season where he sang the role of Maximilian in the Finale of the operetta Candide by Leonard Bernstein. He would later get to perform the role with Loyola Opera the following spring. Previous work that Mr. Mandal has done include The Rape of Lucretia (Tarquinius), Martha (Plunkett) and Lucrezia Borgia (Don Apostolo Gazella). Rahim Mandal is excited to perform his first role on stage with New Orleans Opera and hope it to be the first of many.

[/section] [section title=”Jaffett – Taylor Miller”]

Taylor Miller - Noah - SonTaylor Miller is a graduate of Loyola University where he majored in Music – Vocal Performance and studied voice under Philip Frohnmayer.  As a student at Loyola he appeared in Lakmé, The Magic Flute, The Gondoliers, The Pirates of Penzance and The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.

As a child soloist Taylor appeared with the New Orleans Opera in Tannhauser, and The Magic Flute.  As an adult he has appeared with NOOA as a chorus member and as a soloist in Salome (Second Nazarene), Carmina Burana, and Madama Butterfly (Registrar). This season he performed with the chorus in Der Vampyr, and is scheduled to play the role of Master of Ceremonies in Massenet’s Cendrillon.  Earlier this year, Taylor appeared in a rarely heard opera burlesque, Tabasco by George Whitefield. In 2012, his work with the 9th Ward Opera production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Cox and Box was nominated for a Gambit “Big Easy” award.  Taylor would like to dedicate this performance to his mentor and voice teacher Philip Frohnmayer.

[/section] [section title=”Mrs. Sem – Susan Ruggiero”]

Susan Ruggiero - Noah - Mrs. Sem1Susan Ruggiero is an active performer and educator based in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She is the recipient of several prestigious opera awards including the Shreveport Opera’s Singer of the Year Competition, the Mozart Award in the National Orpheus Vocal Competition, and district winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2007 and 2009). She has sung with New Orleans Opera, Natchez Opera, Mississippi Opera, Opera South, Kentucky Opera, Wildwood Opera, Blue Lake Opera, Opéra Louisiane, and she was a Fellow at Tanglewood. An active recitalist, Ms. Ruggiero performs regularly as a soloist, and with Accento Trio a group she founded with flutist Danilo Mezzadri and pianist Elizabeth Moak. Susan teaches at The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University, and she is a performing faculty member at both the Festival Música nas Montanhas in Poços de Caldas, Brazil, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. Ms. Ruggiero has a bachelor’s degree in music from Michigan State University, a double master’s degree in voice and flute performance from the University of Michigan, and a DMA from Louisiana State University.

[/section] [section title=”Mrs. Ham – Melanie Gardner”]

Melanie Gardner - Noah - Mrs. HamSoprano Melanie Gardner, making her New Orleans Opera debut, is a recent participant of the International Performing Arts Institute’s Opera Studio in Germany and a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where she received her M.M. in Vocal Performance. As a student, she performed the roles of Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, Margot in The Merry Widow, and Shepherdess and Cat in L’enfant et les sortileges. Recent engagements include the title role in Suor Angelica with Operafestival di Roma, The Mikado with the Natchez Festival, and The Marriage of Figaro with Mississippi Opera. Ms. Gardner frequently performs musical theatre and has appeared as the Beggar Woman in USM’s production of Sweeney Todd, and Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, Maria Elena Holly in Buddy, the Buddy Holly Story, and Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music with the Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera.

[/section] [section title=”Mrs. Jaffett – Veronica Sharkey”]

Veronica Sharkey - Noah - Mrs. Jaffett2Veronica Sharkey, mezzo-soprano, is a New Orleans resident and second-year graduate student in vocal performance at Loyola University. Most recently, she was a Resident Artist at the International Performing Arts Institute in Germany. She has also been seen as Miss Charm-Strange in Quantum Mechanic by John Bilotta and as the Third Witch in The Mortal Thoughts of Lady MacBeth by Veronika Krausas with New Fangled Opera, and as the Old Lady in Loyola Opera’s production of Bernstein’s Candide. She has been a member of the New Orleans Opera Chorus since 2010. This is her first role with the company.

[/section] [section title=”Gossip #1 – Clarinda Coleman”]

RRinda Coleman - Noah - Gossip 3inda Coleman holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s in church music, both with emphasis in voice. She currently sings with the New Orleans Vocal Arts Chorale, the Jefferson Chorale, and, for about twenty-five years, the New Orleans Opera Chorus. She has sung solo work in numerous oratorios and concert works.  A teacher for over thirty years, Rinda is currently the choral director at the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy in Federal City.

[/section] [section title=”Gossip #2 – Givonna Joseph”]

Givonna Joseph - Noah - Gossip #2Ms. Givonna Joseph, mezzo-soprano, is founder and director of OperaCreole, an international concert soloist specializing in the music of 19th Century New Orleans Free Composers of Color, and an Artist Educator. She was recently featured on (NPR) National Public Radio for her contributions as one of New Orleans’ cultural standard bearers.  Ms. Joseph also sings and is an artist educator with New Orleans Opera, and a Master Teaching Artist for Young Audience of Louisiana. She enjoys teaching young people to sing in her private vocal studio.

The mezzo-soprano has performed in Paris, France, Rome, Italy and throughout the country. During her Katrina exile she sang with Houston Grand Opera’s Chorus. Prior to Katrina she was Director of Education for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms Joseph’s diverse career includes singing for Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and opening for Ray Charles.  Givonna and her daughter Aria Mason, mezzo-soprano, recently made New Orleans Opera history as the first mother and daughter in solo roles in the same production. She reprised the role of “Lily” and her daughter sang the role of “Annie” in New Orleans Opera’s October 2010 production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.  Ms. Joseph can be reached through her website at, or through

[/section] [section title=”Gossip #3 – Jennifer Mitchell”]

Jennifer  Mitchell, an upcoming classical vocalist, has a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of New Orleans and is currently working on her Doctorate of Musical Arts at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Ms. Mitchell, a soprano, began her vocal training at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and also studied at Loyola University. While At Loyola she participated in a number of productions including: Lakme, The Godoliers and Orpheus in the Underworld.  She also has done the role of Rosalinda from Die Fledermaus,  while studying in Houston, TX. Ms. Mitchell is currently the choir director for the U.N.O Gospel Choir.  She has been actively singing with New Orleans opera chorus since 2009. Her greatest desire is to honor God with the gifts He has given her.

[/section] [section title=”Gossip #4 – JeAnne Swinley”]

JeAnne Swinley - Noah - Gossip #4JeAnne Moniz Swinley spent several years in the New York metropolitan area, singing as a professional soloist for several orchestral groups as well as serving as cantor and soloist at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  A graduate of Loyola University New Orleans and the Hartt School of Music, JeAnne is thrilled to have recently made her home in New Orleans.  JeAnne is an ongoing professional soloist with St. Charles Presbyterian Church and participates regularly with local theaters and festivals including Tulane Summer Lyric and the annual New Orleans Fringe Festival.  For more information, please go to

[/section] [/sections].

Britten wrote this work in 1957 for combined professional and amateur performers to present in a “big building … preferably a church – but not a theatre.” His parable is based on one of the “Chester Miracle Plays,” medieval liturgical dramas performed on festival days. The Chester Miracle Plays, named for the city in which they were performed, dated from 1475 to 1500. Miracle plays were performed from sunrise to sunset in churchyards and marketplaces and acted by the city’s Guild members on a cart known as a pageant which moved about the town. In Noah’s Flood, Britten’s goal was in many ways to emulate the uncomplicated style of presentation of the original fourteen and fifteenth century pageants. A common theme in Britten’s works is the conflict between a simple man and corrupt society. This concept is dramatically present in Noah’s Flood, where innocent children and animals present strong contrast to the wickedness of the society God destroys in the flood. Added to these children’s voices are several adult parts–particularly the Voice of God, Noah and Mrs. Noah–with younger adults able to portray the sons of Noah, their wives, and Mrs. Noah’s drinking friends, the Gossips.

The unique orchestration for Noah’s Flood combines orchestral strings, piano, organ, bugles, recorders, and hand-bells, to which Britten has added a large array of unusual percussion instruments like the whip, sandpaper, wind machine, and slung mugs: cups and mugs of various size and thickness tied on a string by their handles in order to form a musical scale. They are hit with wooden spoons to produce the sound of raindrops hitting the roof of the ark. For the original production, Britten himself went to many shops throughout Aldeburgh to find the various cups and mugs that had the appropriate pitch!

The drama commences with the entire audience singing the hymn “Lord Jesus, think on me,” a prayer for purification.  Arriving at the stage, Noah is met by the Voice of God prophesying mankind’s destruction because of sin. God promises to save Noah and his family and tells him to build “a shippe.” So Noah calls upon his family for help and his sons and their wives enter with tools and materials, but Mrs Noah and her drunken Gossips mock the project. The cast then builds the ark on stage (with the hammer-blows supposedly reflecting work taking place in Britten’s house at the time he was composing Noah’s Flood.) When the ark is finished, God tells Noah to fill it with animals. Bugle fanfares sound and pairs of animals enter the ark, singing or squeaking “Kyrie eleison!” The original medieval play mentions forty-nine different species of the animals that are here portrayed by the children.

Mrs. Noah is a cantankerously comic character who stands at the gangplank arguing and chattering noisily with her drunken gossips as she refuses to enter. When her sons bodily carry her into the ark (leaving the Gossips to drown), she slaps her husband as thanks for her salvation. As the storm commences, the orchestra emulates the rising and falling of wind, waves, and the flapping of the rigging as the flood grows more and more fierce. Adrift on the sea, the ark’s passengers panic and begin to sing the naval hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” their singing soon joined by the audience in this prayer for safe deliverance. Finally the storm abates and their frightening episode closes in profound calm.

Noah sends out a raven, but the raven (solo cello) never returns, so Noah knows that it has discovered dry land. He then sends out a dove (solo recorder) which brings back an olive branch. With the rainbow as a sign, God promises a new covenant with mankind, vowing never again to send such a catastrophe. Everyone leaves the ark, singing “Alleluia.” Joined by the audience, the cast recesses to the mighty hymn, “The Spacious Firmament on High,” leaving Noah alone to enjoy the joyous sounds of bugles and celestial bells as they fade to the quiet of God’s blessing.