Arts & Events

New: See Verdi's Joan of Arc this weekend

Pamela Tibbits
Monday July 09, 2018 - 03:13:00 PM

Tickets are now available for Berkeley Chamber Opera’s summer production of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) at the historic Hillside Club in Berkeley, with chamber orchestra under the baton of Alexander Katsman and directed by Elly Lichenstein.

Two performances this weekend only: Fri, July 13 (7 pm) and Sun, July 15 (2 pm)

Music by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Libretto by Temistocle Solera, inspired by the play Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801) by Friedrich von Schiller


Brown Paper Tickets:
General: $37 in advance, $42 at the door
Senior/Student: $25 in advance, $28 at the door
12 and under: free

Don’t miss this opportunity to see a recently revised authentic version of a rarely-performed gem by Giuseppe Verdi. Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) had its world premiere during the turbulent years of the Italian risorgimento at Milan’s La Scala in 1845 (with the composer himself at the keyboard).

Berkeley Chamber Opera (BCO) is using the 2009 scholarly edition from the University of Chicago Verdi series, restored by Alberto Rizzuti from original manuscripts without text changes which had been mandated by Verdi’s contemporary censors. For this production, BCO has once again assembled an outstanding cast with company founder soprano Eliza O’Malley as the medieval heroine Giovanna, baritone Geoffrey Di Giorgio as Giacomo, Giovanna’s father, and tenor Salvatore Atti as Carlo VII, King of France. All three were principals in the company’s 2017 Verdi offering, Luisa Miller. 


From a musical point of view, Giovanna d’Arco contains many ideas that Verdi would later develop. Composed in barely four months, the score of Giovanna d’Arco gives us an insight into an ambitious Giuseppe Verdi who is looking to experiment and innovate in his vocal and instrumental style. Of all the works of Verdi’s so-called “prison years”, Giovanna d’Arco is the one which most points toward his future works, with an experimental score that acts as a bridge between his early career and the “popular trilogy” of the early 1850s: Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata

The libretto, by Temistocle Solera with liberal borrowing from Friedrich von Schiller, presents the warrior heroine’s story with historic precision combined with an imagined poetic ending in which Giovanna escapes being burned at the stake. The drama is heightened by the fact that it is her father who reports Giovanna to the enemy, believing her to be a heretic, thereby endangering her life. It’s the kind of father-daughter relationship that Verdi found so fascinating throughout his career. 


San Francisco Bay Area soprano Eliza O’Malley has performed leading opera roles throughout Northern California. Over the past few years, she has performed the roles of Tosca, Romilda (Serse), Luisa Miller, Magda (The Consul), Violetta (La Traviata), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Constanze (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Marguerite (Faust), Georgetta (Il Tabarro), Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito), Mimi (La Boheme), Cherubini’s Médée, Leonora (Il Trovatore), Fiordiligi (Così fan Tutte), Lucia, Desdemona (Otello), Norma, Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Micaela (Carmen), Gilda (Rigoletto), Suor Angelica, the Countess and Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Antigone in Mark Alburger’s Antigone, as well as Nedda (Pagliacci). Recently she sang in the premiere of Peter Josheff’s chamber oratorio Europa and the Bull at UC Santa Cruz composed in honor of her grandmother, the painter Mary Holmes

O’Malley has sung roles with Berkeley Chamber Opera, Verismo Opera, The Handel Opera Project, Goat Hall Productions/San Francisco Cabaret Opera, The Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra, Oakland Opera Theater, Berkeley Opera, Solo Opera, BASOTI and Capitol Opera Sacramento. She also sang the role of Emma in a workshop production of Khovanshchina conducted by Kent Nagano. 

She produces and sings in the “Dazzling Divas” nights of opera arias at Le Bateau Ivre and a series of monthly Work-in-Progress concerts at Chamber Arts House in Berkeley, which she helped to found. O’Malley received training in the AIMS program in Graz, Austria, Aspen School of Music, the Wesley Balk Institute and BASOTI as well as at Oberlin College. She earned an M.M. in Voice Performance at Texas Tech University School of Music. 

Award winning tenor Salvatore Atti is the 2018 recipient of the Andrew White Memorial Award, from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Most recently Atti sang the role of Don José in West Bay Opera’s production of Carmen. He was a fan favorite in the Boston and NYC area during his 10 years of residence there, when the Boston Globe wrote that “As Faust, Salvatore Atti was radiant in his cavatina “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure”. He has also performed internationally in Sweden, Germany, France and England. In his most recent work abroad, he was Alfredo in La Traviata in Busseto Italy (Verdi’s hometown) during Verdi’s bicentennial celebration. 

About his most recent performance with Berkeley Chamber Opera, in the role of Rodolfo in Luisa Miller, critic James MacBean wrote that “tenor Salvatore Atti was nothing short of a revelation… Atti possesses a robust, ringing tenor. Atti’s Act II aria “Quando le sere al placido” was the vocal highlight of this Luisa Miller… Salvatore Atti invested this bitter lament with great intensity.” 

Atti graduated from The Boston Conservatory of Music receiving a Master’s degree in opera performance. He is a student of Sheri Greenawald, and can be followed at

Geoffrey Di Giorgio, acclaimed for his “glorious singing” (Knoxville Sentinel), “beautiful, compelling, and dreamlike vocalism” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle) “impressive rich voice” (Mercury News) and “stentorian voice that rings out loud and clear” (Berkeley Daily Planet), is quickly establishing himself as an up-and-coming dramatic voice. 

He has appeared recently with Musica Raritana as Abner in Handel’s Athalia and with Opera at Rutgers; the roles of Henry Davis in Street Scene, and Vicomte Cascada in The Merry Widow. Recent performances also included Talpa in Il Tabarro with The Lyric Orchestra, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief with Saint Joseph’s University Opera, and the role of Marcello in La Boheme with Opera Libera. He joined the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra as the Baritone soloist for their Mozart and Friends Gala. 

In 2016 he sang the roles of The Sacristan, Sciarrone, and The Carceriere in Tosca with Knoxville Opera. He sang Miller in Verdi’s Luisa Miller with Berkeley Chamber Opera in 2017. This summer he will perform his first Wagnerian role as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde

Di Giorgio has taken prizes in many prestigious competitions including: The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, The Giulio Gari IVC, The Jensen Foundation, and The Palm Springs Opera Guild. Geoffrey resides in Reno, NV where he is currently an emerging artist with the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices and studies privately with renowned mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick. 

Bass Baritone J. T. Williams is rapidly making a name for himself among Bay Area opera lovers. Since arriving here just over 2 years ago, he has performed with Opera Cocktales, Opera on Tap, Phenix Opera Company, Berkeley Chamber Opera, Verismo Opera, and Island City Opera. He has appeared as Scarpia in Tosca, Notario and Chorus in La Sonnambula, Wurm in Luisa Miller, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, Mr. Kofner in The Consul, and Germano in La Scala di Seta. Most recently, he has been Alberich in Das Rheingold with Verismo Opera. Upcoming roles include Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte with Bayshore Lyric Opera. 

Williams has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Texas Tech University, where he studied voice with Basso Buffo William G. Hartwell III and opera with Gerald Dolter, and he is currently studying voice with Eugene Brancoveanu. In addition to his musical career, J.T. also has a Master of Divinity degree from Brite Divinity School and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law. When he is not singing, he is a trial attorney for The Ticket Clinic PLC. 

Alexander Katsman, Conductor
Elly Lichenstein, Director
Pamela Tibbitts, Production Manager
Sherrol Simard, Costumer
Heaven Robinson, Stage Manager
Deirdre Burke, Props 


Flute: Tod Brody
Oboe: Max Hollander
Clarinet: Mara Plotkin
Basson: Cynthia Behnke Hanson
Violins: Philip Santos, Yulee Seo
Viola: Steve Levintow
Cello: Amy Brodo
Bass: Richard Worn
Piano: Jonathan Khuner 

The historic Hillside Club, built in the 1920s, is located at 2286 Cedar Street, steps from the so-called Gourmet Ghetto. Plan to come early or stay late to enjoy some of the Bay Area’s most delicious and diverse dining opportunities.