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Spokane Opera on the menu

Parkers’-led ‘Maid Mistress’ featured at dinner theater

As operas go, Spokane Opera’s summer dinner theater is a bit of an appetizer – a way for audiences who might not be familiar with the art form to get a taste of what it’s all about.

The opera company returns to Luigi’s Italian Restaurant starting Tuesday for its ninth annual production there.

On this year’s menu: “The Maid Mistress (La serva padrona),” Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s one-act comic opera about an elderly, grouchy bachelor, Dr. Pandolfo, and his cheeky maid, Zerbina.

As tensions between them mount, Pandolfo orders his butler, Scapin, to find him another maid – not knowing that Scapin and Zerbina already are plotting to trick him into marrying her.

Husband and wife Derrick and Heather Parker, familiar faces to Spokane audiences, star as Pandolfo and Zerbina. Pianist Greg Presley provides musical accompaniment.

Spokane native Heather Parker, who holds a master of music degree and performer’s certificate from New York’s Eastman School of Music, has performed 17 different roles in 25 opera productions nationwide including “Pagliacci,” “The Magic Flute,” “Carmen” and “Don Giovanni.”

The soprano is a second-place winner of the Licia Albanese-Puccini International Foundation, which resulted in her concert debut at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Alice Tully Hall.

Bass baritone Derrick Parker, who also received his master’s degree from Eastman, has sung extensively throughout the United States, Europe and South Africa.

He was seen here most recently as Sarastro in last year’s Spokane Opera production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” and previously appeared locally in “Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Like many early “opera buffa” (comic opera) works, “The Maid Mistress” was created for the intermezzo, or space between acts, of larger-scale operas.

It will be performed at Luigi’s as more of a digestif, following dinner as dessert is served. The 45-minute opera will be sung in English.