Press Room

02-14-2014

Opera Philadelphia Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Five New Productions in 2014-2015 Season

World Premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, starring Lawrence Brownlee and Angela Brown, comes to the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theater in June 2015

East Coast Premiere of Oscar, starring David Daniels, Heidi Stober, and William Burden, at the Academy of Music in February 2015

Eric Owens makes his role debut as King Philip in Verdi’s Don Carlo, with Dimitri Pittas, Leah Crocetto, and Michelle DeYoung, at the Academy of Music in April 2015

Jonathan Beyer, Jennifer Holloway and Taylor Stayton lead a new production of The Barber of Seville at the Academy of Music in September, with a FREE, HD broadcast on Sept. 27

Curtis Opera Theatre’s Ariadne auf Naxos, presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, at the Perelman Theater in March 2015

40th Anniversary Gala, with a recital by opera’s star couple Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez, launches a season of celebration on September 12, 2014 at the Academy of Music

General Director & President David B. Devan and Music Director Corrado Rovaris are pleased to announce Opera Philadelphia’s 40th Anniversary Season, featuring a stellar cast of international opera stars in five new productions at the Academy of Music and the Perelman Theater.

“This 40th Anniversary Season at Opera Philadelphia looks to the future while celebrating Philadelphia’s operatic heritage,” said Devan. “The five outstanding new productions form a journey—a carefully sequenced collection of the classic and the daring, the sublime and the surreal. It is an open dialogue between opera’s biggest stars, its greatest fans, and its grandest stage.”

“I am so pleased by the wonderful variety of artistic experiences we have created for the 2014-2015 Season,” said Rovaris. “We have three excellent new productions from the traditional opera repertoire alongside two new operas from our American Repertoire Program, all featuring some of the greatest singers alive today.”

The season will open on Friday, September 12, with a star-studded 40th Anniversary Gala featuring a recital by opera’s star couple Stephen Costello and Ailyn Pérez,Vanity Fair’s “match made in verismo heaven.” The duo, who met as students at Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts, come home to celebrate on the stage where they’ve dazzled in productions like Carmen, Cyrano, and Romeo & Juliet.  Information about the 40th Anniversary Gala is available at www.operaphila.org/gala.

Two weeks later, a new production of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville comes to the Academy of Music stage, featuring Jennifer Holloway in her role debut as Rosina, with Jonathan Beyer as Figaro and Taylor Stayton as Almaviva.  February brings the East Coast Premiere of Oscar by Theodore Morrison and John Cox, starring countertenor David Daniels in his Opera Philadelphia debut as Oscar Wilde. In its 2013 World Premiere at the Santa Fe Opera, the production was hailed for outstanding performances by Daniels, soprano Heidi Stober, tenor William Burden, and dancer Reed Luplau, in a silent role as Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas.

Philadelphia-born bass-baritone Eric Owens comes home in April 2015 to make his role debut as King Philip II in a new production of Verdi’s Don Carlo.  This Academy of Music production features the Opera Philadelphia debuts of Dimitri Pittas as Don Carlo, Leah Crocetto as Elizabeth de Valois, and Michelle DeYoung as Princess Eboli.

The popular Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater returns with two new productions: Ariadne auf Naxos, starring the gifted young voices of the Curtis Opera Theatre, under Artistic Director Mikael Eliasen; and the American Repertoire Program’s World Premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, by composer Daniel Schnyder with a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly.  American tenor Lawrence Brownlee stars as Charlie Parker, with soprano Angela Brown as his mother, Addie Parker, and baritone Will Liverman as Dizzy Gillespie.  Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD marks Opera Philadelphia’s first World Premiere in more than three decades, making the chamber opera a fitting capstone to the 40th Anniversary Season.

The Barber of Seville
Music by Gioachino Rossini /Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
A NEW CO-PRODUCTION with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
September 26, 28m, October 1, 3 & 5m, 2014
Academy of Music
Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Opera Philadelphia opens the season with the funniest of all comic operas. Rossini’s rapid-fire romp set in 17th-century Spain kicks off with a famous overture and veers into a hilarious series of misadventures and mistaken identities.  Determined to win the heart of the beautiful, strong-willed Rosina (Jennifer Holloway, in her role and company debuts) with charm and wit—rather than nobility and wealth—Count Almaviva (tenor Taylor Stayton) enlists the help of a wily barber (baritone Jonathan Beyer) to steal her away from her lecherous guardian, Dr. Bartolo (bass Kevin Burdette). From the famous “Figaro” aria to Rosina’s equally spectacular “Una voce poco fa,” the opera is a non-stop parade of hits. With colorful sets and costumes, director Michael Shell’s production recalls the comic films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Music Director Corrado Rovaris conducts the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.  A FREE, HD broadcast of The Barber of Seville will be presented at Independence National Historical Park on Saturday, September 27, marking the fourth year of Opera Philadelphia’s popular Opera on the Mall.

American Repertoire Program
Oscar
East Coast Premiere
Music by Theodore Morrison
Libretto by John Cox and Theodore Morrison; based on quotations from the writings of Oscar Wilde and his contemporaries
A NEW CO-COMMISSION & CO-PRODUCTION with The Santa Fe Opera
February 6, 8m, 11, 13 & 15m, 2015
Academy of Music
Performed in English with English supertitles

Legendarily flamboyant Oscar Wilde was the toast of the literary world—until a scandalous love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas ruined his reputation and devastated his private life. For one of history’s greatest wits, it was a dark counterpoint to a life earmarked by fearless humor and equally intrepid passion. In this beautifully tragic tale of self-expression and individual freedom, countertenor David Daniels electrifies with what The New York Times called a “Wildean mix of arrogance and vulnerability.” Chronicling his trial and subsequent incarceration over “the love that dares not speak its name,” Oscar marries one of literature's most daring voices with one of music’s most singular. The result is unforgettable.

Wilde’s last work, the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” describes his ordeal and the savagery of the prison system he endured. It was a source for the libretto, as were conversations, letters and documents spoken or written by his contemporaries. Composer Theodore Morrison, working with librettist John Cox, reveals the profoundly human side of Wilde. Characters in the opera include Wilde’s friend and supporter Ada Leverson (soprano Heidi Stober), Walt Whitman (baritone Dwayne Croft), and Frank Harris (tenor William Burden).  Kevin Newbury directs, with Evan Rogister at the podium to conduct the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.

“It has been wonderful partnering with The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia to develop and produce my first opera,” said Morrison. “I was thrilled with the premiere in Santa Fe, and as the opera continues to evolve through revisions I look forward joyously to its next iteration in Philadelphia.”

Curtis Opera Theatre
Ariadne auf Naxos
A NEW PRODUCTION of the Curtis Institute of Music presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Music by Richard Strauss / Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
March 4, 6 & 8m, 2015
Aurora Series: Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater
Performed in German with English supertitles

When the wealthiest man in Vienna hosts a lavish night of music and fireworks, the entertainment is in no short supply—and neither is the drama. In a farcical twist of fate, a brash burlesque troupe and a buttoned-up opera company must now perform together on the same stage. In a new Curtis Opera Theatre production, the two groups argue, flirt, and fight for the spotlight as the comic preparations of the first act transform into a beautiful opera-within-an-opera before your eyes. Challenging traditional conventions, Strauss combines humor with undeniably beautiful music, proving that no matter the circumstances, the two shows must go on.  Conductor George Manahan and director Chas Rader-Shieber lead the talented young singers of Curtis Opera Theatre. Further details of the creative team will be announced later in the spring of 2015.

Don Carlo
Music by Giuseppe Verdi /Libretto by François Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle
A NEW CO-PRODUCTION with Minnesota Opera
April 24, 26m, 29, May 1 & 3m, 2015
Academy of Music
Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Sometimes it’s peace, not war, which tests a man’s loyalty. Elizabeth, the centerpiece of an uneasy treaty between France and Spain, ignites a love triangle of epic proportions. While brokered to King Philip II of Spain, it is his son Don Carlo who possesses her heart. Now they must choose: loyalty or their lives? Bass-baritone and native Philadelphian Eric Owens, who made his Opera Philadelphia debut as the Friar in a 2004 production of Don Carlo,comes home to make his much-anticipated role debut as the tyrannical and despondent King Philip II. 

“I am so excited to come back home to Philadelphia to make my role debut as King Philip,” said Owens. “When I get a chance to sing Verdi it seems like a homecoming for my voice. To do this role that I have wanted to do for so long, at home, it’s just the perfect match.”

Owens is joined by a powerful cast featuring three important company debuts: tenor Dimitri Pittas, Leah Crocetto, and Michelle DeYoung make their company debuts in a powerhouse cast. They are joined by three returning favorites: baritone Troy Cook (La bohème, Silent Night) as Rodrigo; bass Morris Robinson (Nabucco) as the Grand Inquisitor; and soprano Ashley Emerson (Powder Her Face) as Tebaldo. Tim Alberydirects, with Corrado Rovaris conducting the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.

American Repertoire Program
Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD
Music by Daniel Schnyder /Libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly
WORLD PREMIERE
June 5, 7m, 10, 12 & 14m, 2015
Aurora Series: Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater
Performed in English with English supertitles

March 12, 1955. New York City. Charlie Parker is dead.  But nobody knows it yet. In that twilight between the here and the hereafter, Parker sets out to write his last great musical work. As he composes, he revisits the inspirations, demons, and women who fueled his creative genius. As a chamber opera, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD invites the audience directly into the mind and heart of a musical genius. Set after-hours in the famed New York City jazz club Birdland, the intimacy of the surroundings and the small supporting cast shine a spotlight onto tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Parker and soprano Angela Brown as his mother, Addie. Additional characters in the opera include fellow jazz great Dizzy Gillespie (charismatic baritone Will Liverman), who once described Parker as “the other half of my heartbeat,” along with Charlie’s first, third and fourth wives (Rebecca, Doris and Chan), and his friend and patron, Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, in whose apartment Parker died.

The most in-demand American tenor in the world in the bel canto repertoire, Lawrence Brownlee continues to dazzle audiences with the power and agility of his instrument. From firmly American roots, Brownlee has become a star on the international scene, performing opposite the leading ladies of contemporary opera, and lauded continually for the seemingly effortless beauty of his voice.  Angela Brown has a long association with Opera Philadelphia, having performed the role of Cilla in the East Coast Premiere of Margaret Garner, as well as the title roles in Aida and Ariadne auf Naxos, and leading roles in Don Carlo, Il Trovatore, and Porgy and Bess.   Ron Daniels directs, with Corrado Rovaris conducting the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.

Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Fund, with additional support from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

The Barber of Seville, Oscar and Don Carlo are performed at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets. Ariadne auf Naxos and Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD are performed at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce Streets.

Performance times:  Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Full season subscriptions are available beginning Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at noon at operaphila.org, or by calling 215-732-8400 (Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).  Single tickets for all five productions will go on sale in August 2014 via Ticket Philadelphia at operaphila.org or 215-893-1018.

SUPPORT FOR OPERA PHILADELPHIA

Opera Philadelphia is supported by major grants from Wyncote Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Knight Foundation, The Presser Foundation, Barra Foundation, Independence Foundation, andThe Lenfest Foundation. US Airways is the official airline of Opera Philadelphia. Hyatt at the Bellevue is the official hotel of Opera Philadelphia. Burdumy Motors Incorporated is the official automotive dealership of Opera Philadelphia.  Opera Philadelphia receives arts funding support through grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, theNational Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Philadelphia Cultural Fund

OPERA PHILADELPHIA 2014-2015 SEASON
CASTING & CREATIVE DETAIL

Gioachino Rossini
The Barber of Seville
New co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
September 26, 28m, October 1, 3, 5m, 2014
Academy of Music
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Performed in Italian with English supertitles
Figaro        Jonathan Beyer
Rosina        Jennifer Holloway
Count Almaviva        Taylor Stayton
Doctor Bartolo        Kevin Burdette
Don Basilio        Wayne Tigges*
Conductor        Corrado Rovaris
Director        Michael Shell*
Scenic Design        Shoko Kambara*
Costume Design        Amanda Seymour*
Lighting Design        Driscoll Otto*

 

Theodore Morrison
Oscar
East Coast Premiere
American Repertoire Program
Co-commission and co-production with The Santa Fe Opera
February 6, 8m, 11, 13, 15m, 2015
Academy of Music
Libretto by John Cox and Theodore Morrison; based on quotations from the writings of Oscar Wilde and his contemporaries
Performed in English with English supertitles
Oscar Wilde        David Daniels*
Ada Leverson        Heidi Stober*
Frank Harris        William Burden
Walt Whitman        Dwayne Croft*
Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”)         Reed Luplau*
Justice Sir Alfred Wills/Colonel Henry B. Isaacson        Wayne Tigges 
Conductor        Evan Rogister*
Director        Kevin Newbury*
Scenic Design        David Korins*
Costume Design        David C. Woolard*
Lighting Design        Rick Fisher*
Choreographer        Seán Curran*

 

Richard Strauss
Ariadne auf Naxos
New Production of the Curtis Institute of Music presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
March 4, 6 & 8m, 2015
Aurora Series: Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater
Underwritten by the Wyncote Foundation
Performed in German with English supertitles
Conductor        George Manahan
Director        Chas Rader-Shieber
Curtis Opera Theatre Artistic Director        Mikael Eliasen
Further details of the creative team will be announced later in the spring of 2015

 

Giuseppe Verdi
Don Carlo
New co-production with Minnesota Opera
April 24, 26m, 29, May 1, 3m, 2015
Academy of Music
Libretto by François Joseph Méry and Camille du Locle
Performed in Italian with English supertitles
Don Carlo        Dimitri Pittas*
Elizabeth de Valois        Leah Crocetto*
Princess Eboli        Michelle DeYoung*
Rodrigo        Troy Cook
Philip II, King of Spain        Eric Owens
The Grand Inquisitor        Morris Robinson
Tebaldo        Ashley Emerson
Conductor        Corrado Rovaris
Director        Tim Albery*
Scenic Design        Andrew Lieberman*
Costume Design        Constance Hoffman*
Lighting Design        Thomas Hase*

 

Music by Daniel Schnyder / Libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly
Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD
World Premiere
American Repertoire Program
June 5, 7m, 10, 12 & 14m, 2015
Aurora Series: Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater
Underwritten by the Wyncote Foundation
Performed in English with English supertitles
Charlie Parker        Lawrence Brownlee
Addie Parker        Angela Brown
Dizzy Gillespie        Will Liverman*
Conductor        Corrado Rovaris
Director        Ron Daniels*

*Opera Philadelphia Debut