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Fresno Grand Opera announces new season

Fresno Grand Opera, which last season didn’t stage any traditional operas, has announced its 2014-15 season — and purists should be happy. The company will present Andre Previn’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a contemporary title, on Feb. 15, and Puccini’s classic “Tosca” on May 7, both at the Saroyan Theatre.

The company also will piggyback with two other organizations. It’s snagged one of the upcoming “Jersey Boys” performances, on Nov. 2, in conjunction with Broadway in Fresno. And it’s teamed up once again with the Valley Performing Arts Council for “The Nutcracker” (Nov. 29 and 30) and “Alice in Wonderland,” featuring the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara and Fresno Ballet Theatre (Feb. 28).

Rounding out its season, the company will perform two performances in its popular choral-concerts series at the First Congregational Church: “Christmas on Van Ness” on Dec. 7; and “Broadway on Van Ness” on March 15.

Last season, the company produced a giant homegrown production (with Broadway-worthy principals) of “Les Miserables” and brought in the pop opera trio Il Volo, but I heard from some patrons who were disappointed at the lack of “real” opera in the lineup.  

That’s why it’s encouraging to see the return of the full-speed-ahead opera approach. It’s still a smaller season than in years past — there is only one performance of each title, compared to two performances of most titles in previous seasons, but at least Fresno Grand Opera is back at the Saroyan. I just didn’t think the company’s experiment with the smaller Shaghoian Hall for staged productions was a good fit.

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