Tchaikovsky’s timeless tale of love and transformation captured in the music from the ballet Swan Lake opens the concert with Mascagni’s one act Cavalleria Rusticana portraying the tragic story of betrayal, jealousy, and the secrets of a love triangle.


Masterworks VI is presented by AARP Montana, Helena Home Team, Visiting Angels, Smitty’s Fireplace Shop,
Joe Mitchell State Farm, Point S Tires & Autobody, HTC Montana Limousine, and the Best Western Premier Great Northern Hotel!



“Tchaikovsky was not only one of the most prolific composers of symphonies, but he also remains a legendary composer of works for the opera and ballet, even though he only composed three ballets: The Nutcracker (his final ballet), Sleeping Beauty, and his first ballet – Swan Lake,” says Maestro Allan R. Scott. “Because the premiere of Swan Lake was unsuccessful and some felt it was ‘undanceable,’ Tchaikovsky vowed to revise the score but never lived to do so. The reason for the failure of Swan Lake, however, was not the music, but the original choreography and quality of the production. Without question, the score ushered in a new era of ballet as it was far more symphonic and required extensive demands for the choreographer, dancers, and orchestra.”

A tale of young love, magic, betrayal, heartbreak, and heroism, Swan Lake tells the story of the young Prince Siegfried who encounters and falls in love with the beautiful Odette, the Queen of the Swans. A victim of the evil magician Von Rothbart, Odette and the other princesses spend their days as swans swimming in the magical lake, and their nights as beautiful women. Of course, only a vow of true love can break the spell.


Set in the short story by Italian verismo author and playwright Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), Mascagni was captivated with the idea of setting a scenario about an average man or woman and their problems, while still finding the drama in the romance, violence, or struggles, instead of focusing on mythological gods or kings and queens. Cavalleria Rusticana premiered in May 1890 in Rome to a half empty house; however, the audience did have some of the most important critics as well as music lover Italian Queen Margherita of Savoy. From the opening moments, Cavalleria Rusticana captured the audiences’ hearts and minds. The entire house gave a standing ovation after the opening aria, and it was repeated as an encore as were many other moments in the premiere performance. Mascagni had to take over 40 curtain call bows and was awarded the first prize in the one-act competition.

“Translated ‘rustic chivalry,’ Cavalleria Rusticana actually has little chivalry in the story,” says Maestro Scott. “It is a tale of love, betrayal, and revenge. Set in a Sicilian village on Easter morning in the 19th century, Cavalleria Rusticana tells the story of the villager Turridu returning home from the military to see his fiancée Lola. Learning that Lola married Alfio while he was away, Turridu, out of revenge, seduces Santuzza, another woman in the village. The jealous Lola then begins an affair with her former love, Turridu. Santuzza, connecting with Turridu’s mother Lucia, pleads with Turridu to end the affair with Lola, and eventually tells Alfio of the affair between his wife and Turridu. Alfio swears to take his vendetta on Turridu. Fighting to the death, Turridu is killed, leaving his mother collapsed, and Santuzza fainting.”

While Mascagni’s other 14 operas never became the massive success that Cavalleria Rusticana enjoyed, he still is celebrated as one of the great Italian opera composers. At the time of his death in 1945, Cavalleria Rusticana had been performed over 14,000 times in Italy alone.


Celebrated by Opera News for her “perfect yearningly optimistic coloring—golden and radiant,” and by Classics Today for her “impressive instrument,” soprano Susan Hellman Spatafora has performed with Palm Beach Opera, Opera Tampa, Sarasota Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival, Central City Opera, South Florida Lyric Opera and Green Mountain Opera. In December 2020, Spatafora “sparkled” as she “let (Rosalinde’s) intelligence shine through” (Orlando Sentinel) in Opera Orlando’s Die Fledermaus, the country’s first staged opera production since the pandemic. During the 2019-20 season Spatafora “turned in a blazing performance” (Talkin’ Broadway) in the title role in Suor Angelica with the St. Petersburg Opera Company and performed the roles of Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen with Opera Tampa and Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème with Lakeland Opera. Spatafora returns to Opera Tampa as Nedda in Pagliacci in the 2022-23 season.

In November 2020, Spatafora sang Marcos Balter’s Ear, Skin, and Bone Riddles in the New World Symphony’s virtual program, Adams X Adams, which she “delivered with a rich timbre, bell-like high notes and great clarity” (South Florida Classical Review). A frequent guest artist with the Tampa Oratorio Singers, Spatafora was recently seen as soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Mass in C minor, Bach’s Magnificat, Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Handel’s Messiah.


A metropolitan Opera National Counsel regional finalist and prize winner in the Licia Albanese Competition, Mr. Fennell’s professional debut came when he jumped in for Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. This opportunity lead him to The New York City Opera where he sang six seasons and 13 roles.

Mr. Fennell’s operatic highlights include Rodolfo in La Bohème with New York City Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Saratoga, National Theater Mannheim, Edmonton Opera, Manitoba Opera; The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto for Deutsche Oper Berlin, The Prague National Theater, The Slovak National Theater, Theater Bremen; Werther in Werther for Staatstheater Braunschweig and Opera Zuid(Netherlands); Alfredo in La Traviata with New York City Opera and The Slovak National Theater; Tamino in Die Zauberflöte for Sarasota Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera; and Don José in Carmen for Arizona Opera, Theater Lübeck, Pacific Opera Victoria, and St. Margarethen Festspiele.


The “warm, supple mezzo” of Dominican-American mezzo-soprano Melisa Bonetti has been cited by Opera Today for “commanding a wonderful presence in the lower middle voice but also easily soaring heavenward with a well-schooled top.” Bonetti has recently performed with the Virginia Opera in the roles of “Olga Olsen” in Street Scene and “Zerlina” in Don Giovanni, where she also performed in new works as “Eva” in Jack Perla’s An American Dream, “Johanna” in Michael Gilbertson’s Breaking, and “Autumn” in Christopher Weiss and John de los Santos’ Service Provider. In the 2022-23 season, she joins ADH Theatricals for performances of Judd Greenstein’s A Marvelous Order.

Bonetti has sung in concert with the Lexington Philharmonic, Queens Symphony Orchestra, Richmond Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic and Queens College Orchestra. She can be heard on the Grammy® nominated original cast recording of Robert Paterson’s Three Way as “Tyler”, a role she premiered with Nashville Opera.


Heather Petrie is “a true contralto, with a big, deep, resonant projection that can fill a hall.” (New London Day). Ms. Petrie made her Carnegie Hall solo debut with the Oratorio Society of New York in 2019, after winning second place in the Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Competition. Recent seasons have included multiple performances at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as well as several concerts throughout South Korea with the American Soloists Ensemble and National Chorus of Korea. As a soloist Ms. Petrie has appeared with the American Symphony Orchestra, Voices of Ascension, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and the New Orchestra of Washington, and she performs frequently with the NY Philharmonic, the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Musica Viva NYC, Essential Voices USA, and the Cathedral Choir of Saint John the Divine. Ms. Petrie received a Grammy® nomination for Clarion Music Society’s recording of Steinberg’s Passion Week. Operatic roles include “Mary”, die Fliegende Holländer, “Baba”, The Medium, “Third Lady”, die Zauberflöte, “Marcellina”, Le Nozze di Figaro, “Larina”, Eugene Onegin, and “Annina”, der Rosenkavalier. She holds degrees from Bard College and SUNY Purchase Conservatory.


Hailed by Opera News as “utterly loveable, with an expansive sound and easy stage presence”, Bass-Baritone, Jesús Vicente Murillo, has been performing opera, musical theater, concerts and art song across the United States and Canada since making his debut with Michigan Opera Theater as “The Android” in The Very Last Green Thing at the age of eighteen.

Jesús made his highly anticipated Metropolitan Opera debut as a Flemish deputy in the company’s fall production of Don Carlo in the 2022-2023 Season. He also makes his Opera San Jose debut as “Antonio” in The Magic Flute and then returns to Opera Theatre of St. Louis as “Papageno” in an abbreviated production of the work.

In 2019 he completed a two-year residency with Utah Opera where he sang over 450 performances with the company. Since then, he has gone on to cover “Dr. Bartolo” in The Barber of Seville at Santa Fe Opera, perform “Figaro” in ¡Figaro! (90210) with Chautauqua Opera, “Dr. Bartolo” in The Barber of Seville with Fargo-Moorhead Opera, “Betto” in Gianni Schicchi/Buoso’s Ghost with Michigan Opera Theater, and “Masetto” in Don Giovanni with Bare Opera.


The Helena Symphony continues its partnership with AARP to bring exceptional symphonic music to thousands across western Montana. As the Masterworks Series presented by AARP Montana, this continued collaboration will support audiences within the concert hall, bringing the highest quality symphonic performances and guest artists to Helena. The Helena Symphony is grateful for the generosity of the entire AARP Montana team!

Single concert tickets can be purchased ($65-$20 plus a $5 transaction fee) online at, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or visiting the Symphony Box Office located on the Walking Mall at the Placer Building (21 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 100) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.


See below for Season concert listing.
Maestro Scott and guest artists are available for interviews by contacting the Symphony at 406.442.1860 or [email protected]

The Helena Symphony’s Black-Tie Masquerade Brings the Music of Harry Potter to Life!