‘Trial by Jury’ plays in Sutter Creek

The Mother Lode Friends of Music, the regional organization of classical music performances, presents its first operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan, “Trial by Jury,” on Sunday, Nov. 24, starting at 3 p.m. in the Sutter Creek Theatre, 44 Main St. in Sutter Creek.

The performance comes from the Opera Workshop Program of California State University, Stanislaus. This nationally prominent opera training program draws advanced vocal students from all over the country. Its director is Dr. Joseph Wiggett, former artistic director of the professional Townsend Opera Players in Modesto.

“Trial by Jury” is a comic operetta in one act, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It was the second in a collaboration that ultimately produced 13 operas.

The story concerns a “breach of promise of marriage” in which the judge and legal system are the objects of lighthearted satire. The plot itself is ludicrous, but the characters behave as if they were perfectly reasonable. The device provides the librettist ample opportunities to lampoon people in authority and the sometimes base motives of supposedly respectable people.

The CSU, Stanislaus production is fully staged and costumed. The cast includes six solo roles, a female quartet posing as bridesmaids, and a chorus/jury of 13 singers. Piano accompanist is Ron Brickman.

Following the 37-minute operetta, selected cast members will sing encores drawn from opera, operettas and musical theater.

Selections include “Mister Snow” from “Carousel,” arias and vocal ensembles from other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, “Your Daddy’s Son” from “Ragtime,” the aria “Barbaro, Oh Dio!” from Mozart’s “Il Re Pastore,” “Hello! Oh, Margaret it’s you” from Menotti’s “The Telephone,” Victor Herbert’s “Art is Calling for Me,” and “The Impossible Dream” from “Man from La Mancha.”

Those in starring roles include soprano Laura Jensen (Angelina, the Bride), a 21-year-old vocal performance major from Modesto. Jensen sang the role of Pitti-Sing in the 2011-12 production of “The Mikado” by the Townsend Opera Players. Additional credits include roles in “The King and I,” “My Fair Lady” and “Meet Me in Saint Louis.”

Dalton Fitzgerald (the Judge) is a senior at CSU, Stanislaus with a double major in vocal performance and composition. He has served as singer, musical director and composer for multiple university and community productions.

Tenor Michael Bernal (the Defendant), a native of Modesto, is a sophomore at CSU, Stanislaus with a double concentration in composition and vocal performance. His opera debut was in the chorus of Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” in last year’s production by the Townsend Opera Players. He also sang the lead role in “The Mikado” last summer with the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival.

Baritone Guillermo Garcia Jr. (the Counsel) is a senior at CSU, Stanislaus majoring in vocal performance. He made his opera debut as Bogdanovitch in Townsend Opera’s January 2010 production of “The Merry Widow” and has since been cast as Gregorio in Townsend Opera’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Yakuside in “Madama Butterfly,” Pish-Tush in “The Mikado,” and most recently Baron Douphol in “La Traviata.” In the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, he was cast as Billy in “Carousel,” Papageno in “The Magic Flute” and Dancaïro in “Carmen.”

Bass-baritone Franklin Dillon (the Usher), from Waterford, makes his debut in operetta with this performance. As a student at Modesto Community College, he appeared in “The Pirates of Penzance” and sang the lead role of Danny Zuko in “Grease.”

Dr. Joseph Wiggett is professor of voice and director of the Opera Workshop at CSU, Stanislaus in Turlock. He has served as artistic director and principal stage director for the Townsend Opera Players in Modesto.

He has performed more than three dozen operatic roles with the New York City Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and other ensembles, and recently performed the baritone solo in Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with the Modesto Symphony.

Tickets for the performance are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 18. They may be purchased at Mother Lode Music, Prospect Plaza in Martell, and the Calaveras Arts Council, Main Street in San Andreas and at the door.

Following the performance, the public is invited to join the cast members at a reception at the home of Arlo Lusby where wine, beer and other drinks will be served along with an array of appetizers, as the guest artists sing informally some of their favorite show tunes and cabaret songs. Tickets are $15 per person and may be purchased at the same outlets; advance purchase of tickets to the reception is required.

For more information call 209-293-4227 or go to

Mother Lode Friends Of Music

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Special Publications »

    Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service (updated 4/30/2015) and Privacy Policy (updated 4/7/2015).
    Copyright (c) 2016 McNaughton Newspapers, Inc., a family-owned local media company that proudly publishes the Daily Republic, Mountain Democrat, Davis Enterprise, Village Life and other community-driven publications.