Opera Philadelphia

Published27 Feb 2017

Opera Philadelphia's 2017-2018 Season Brings Innovation and Energy with Inaugural Festival O17, Three World Premieres, Two Philadelphia Premieres, and Multiple Artist Debuts

Opera Philadelphia’s 2017-2018 Season opens with a twelve-day festival that transforms the city into a stage for the future of opera, as six venues come alive with the talents of dozens of spectacular artists in more than 25 performances. Hailed as “a bold move aimed at making Philadelphia a compelling stop on the opera-lover circuit” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) and “a significant expansion of Opera Philadelphia’s seasonal offerings” (Opera News), the inaugural festival, O17, takes place from September 14-25, and promises opera lovers and newcomers a fresh way to experience the art form.

Known for commissioning new works that are “ambitious, accomplished and dramatically direct” (The New York Times) and lauded as “one of America’s most innovative opera companies” (WQXR), Opera Philadelphia will “blanket the city with opera” (The Washington Post) during O17. The festival comprises five productions–three world premieres, a site-specific Philadelphia premiere, and the exclusive East Coast appearance of a playfully revolutionary staging of Mozart’s classic The Magic Flute–as well as a recital and master class starring Festival Artist Sondra Radvanovsky, and a free outdoor Opera on the Mall broadcast.

“The 2017-2018 season truly pushes the limits of how and where and why we experience this wonderful art form,” said David B. Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia. “Our city is our stage, and our stage is our city, as we present three magnificent productions in the historic Academy of Music and engage our community in a festival that will bring new audiences to opera and to Philadelphia. We are delighted to collaborate with so many of our city’s treasured institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation, as well as internationally significant co-producers like The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire in London. Together, we are creating a breadth of new operatic repertoire which is gloriously interdisciplinary and tremendously inspired in its use of sound, space, and storytelling.”

“Opera Philadelphia has been working tirelessly to revitalize opera for the 21st century, commissioning world premieres and energizing the classical canon by providing established and emerging artists with opportunities to create their most imaginative work,” said Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris. “This season, first with O17 and continuing through the spring, our mission has truly reached a new level. I invite opera lovers, and those whom perhaps find opera a bit intimidating, to join us.”

A highlight of this landmark season is the world premiere of Elizabeth Cree, a chamber opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, conducted by Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris in the Kimmel Center’s intimate Perelman Theater. Fresh off her house debuts at the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack makes her Opera Philadelphia debut in the title role of Elizabeth Cree, with baritone Troy Cook as her husband, John Cree.

Underscoring the company’s commitment to programming works relevant to its multicultural community, Opera Philadelphia, in a co-commission and co-production with The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire, presents the world premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved, from the creative team of Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and director/choreographer/dramaturge Bill T. Jones.The opera is informed by a tragic moment from Philadelphia’s past while suggesting an alternate, more hopeful future through the eyes of its young protagonists. On the run after a series of tragic incidents, five North Philly teens find refuge in an abandoned, condemned house in West Philadelphia. The home sits at the exact location that served as headquarters of the MOVE organization when, in 1985 a standoff with police infamously ended with a neighborhood destroyed and 11 people dead, including five children.

Staged in the Wilma Theater, the opera combines spoken word, contemporary movement, video projection, classical music, R&B and jazz singing, and a brooding, often joyful score filled with place, purpose, and possibility. Following the Philadelphia premiere, We Shall Not Be Moved will immediately travel to The Apollo Theater for its first New York performances and makes its European premiere at London’s Hackney Empire in October.

A third World Premiere, The Wake World, by Opera Philadelphia composer in residence David Hertzberg, takes the audience on a musical journey through the world-renowned collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings on display at the Barnes Foundation. As a fully immersive performance, The Wake World, directed by R.B. Schlather and based on Aleister Crowley’s fantastical tale, challenges understandings of art, opera, and the self–in a way audiences are unlikely to forget.

The exclusive East Coast appearance of Barrie Kosky’s visually stunning, internationally renowned production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute will be mounted in the Academy of Music. Tenor Ben Bliss reprises his star turn as Tamino opposite the Pamina of soprano Rachel Sterrenberg, with baritone Jarrett Ott making his role debut as Papageno.

A site-specific and all-too-topical double bill pairs Il combattimento di Tancredi e ClorindaMonteverdi’s tale of two warriors – the Christian soldier Tancredi (baritone Craig Verm) and the Muslim soldier Clorinda (mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall) – with I Have No Stories To Tell You (2014), written in response to Monteverdi’s work, by Lembit Beecher, a graduate of Opera Philadelphia’s Composer in Residence program, and librettist Hannah Moscovitch. The two operas will be presented together as War Stories in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Monteverdi’s masterwork will be staged in the Museum’s dramatic, medieval stone cloister, with its carved limestone cornices and 12th-century fountain, while audiences will experience Beecher’s contemporary piece in the Museum’s soaring Great Stair Hall, one of the city’s most iconic civic spaces.

As the inaugural Festival Artist, superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky will not only give a solo recital in the Perelman Theater, but also conduct a Master Class with emerging artists. The festival will conclude with a free HD broadcast of an opera production (title TBD) as part of Opera Philadelphia's annual Opera on the Mall series on Saturday, September 23, at Independence National Historical Park. 

Spring brings two new productions to the Academy of Music. George Benjamin’s first full-length opera, Written on Skin, called “a triumph for modernist musical languages” by The New York Times, makes its Philadelphia premiere in the Academy of Music in a new production by director Will Kerley (2013’s Powder Her Face). Lauren Snouffer lends her “rich-toned soprano” (Boston Globe) to the role of Angès, alongside the “matinee-idol good looks, vocal warmth, and personal charm” (Opera News) of baritone Mark Stone as the Protector. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, with his “instrument of inexorable beauty” (Opera News), takes on the dual role of Boy and First Angel.

Daniela Mack returns in April to close out the season in the title role of a new production of Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Paul Curran (2015’s La traviata).

O17 festival packages and full season subscriptions are now on sale at operaphila.org, or by calling 215.732.8400 (Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Single tickets will go on sale on Monday, May 15, at operaphila.org or 215.732.8400.

The Magic Flute
A scene from LA Opera's 2013 production of The Magic Flute. Credit: Robert Millard / LA Opera

September 14-25, 2017

 The Magic Flute
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder
Exclusive East Coast appearance | A production of Komische Oper Berlin
Co-produced by LA Opera and Minnesota Opera
September 15, 17M, 20, 22, 24M, 2017
Academy of Music
Performed in German with English Supertitles

Barrie Kosky has transformed The Magic Flute into a stunning live-action cartoon. It is fun for the whole family.” So marveled the LA Times when the celebrated Australian director’s new production of Mozart’s masterful comedy about love, truth, and the pursuit of enlightenment made its North American premiere. The innovative, crowd-pleasing production from Komische Oper Berlin presents the opera in a style that evokes a meeting between 1920s silent movies and David Lynch, with the singers performing amidst fanciful animated projections. The result is “a deliciously absurd blend of silent film and animation” (Berliner Morgenpost). “It is a tour de force. The audience oohed and aahed, clapped, gasped and guffawed” (The Guardian).

Created by the British theatre group 1927, this Magic Flute “points the way toward a freer, more experimental style of producing opera” (The New York Times). Taking center stage are tenor Ben Bliss as “an ever-elegant and solid Tamino” (LA Times) and soprano Rachel Sterrenberg, with her “perfect diction and soft smiling tone” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), as Pamina. Baritone Jarrett Ott, declared “a star” (Parterre Box) after his 2016 turn as Inman in Cold Mountain, returns to the Academy stage in his role debut as the comical, lovelorn Papageno. Olga Pudova is “immaculate and airy (The Guardian) as the villainous Queen of the Night. “Inspiring conductor” (The Financial Times) David Charles Abell leads the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus.

The exclusive East Coast appearance of this playfully subversive, internationally renowned production will be mounted in five performances at the Academy of Music.

Mack as Cree
Daniela Mack as Elizabeth Cree Credit: Dominic M. Mercier

Elizabeth Cree
Music by Kevin Puts | Libretto by Mark Campbell
Based on the novel The Trial of Elizabeth Cree by Peter Ackroyd
World Premiere
Co-commissioned with Hackney Empire; Co-produced with Hackney Empire and Chicago Opera Theater
September 14, 16M, 19, 21, 23M, 2017
Perelman Theater
Performed in English with English Supertitles

Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, the creative team behind 2012’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night, return to Opera Philadelphia for the world premiere of a chamber opera based on Peter Ackroyd’s “downright exhilarating” (LA Times) novel, The Trial of Elizabeth Cree. Set in London in the 1880s, this highly suspenseful and theatrical opera interweaves several narratives: the trial of the titular heroine for the poisoning of her husband; a series of brutal murders committed by a Jack the Ripper-style killer; the spirited world of an English music hall; and, finally, some “guest appearances” by luminaries from the Victorian Age. Shocking and entertaining, Elizabeth Cree is a work that combines the factual with the fictive and the historical with the imaginary.

“It is a thrill to bring this riveting story to life for the operatic stage,” said Kevin Puts, who has been called “a brilliant composer with a strong musical voice” (The New York Times). “Elizabeth Cree is fast and furious, moving from scene to scene with the pace of a thriller, and I have delighted in working toward a seamless and organic flow to it all.”

Mark Campbell, “a major force in opera” (Opera News) and one of the most in-demand librettists working in the genre today, instantly saw operatic possibilities in Ackroyd’s novel. “I read The Trial of Elizabeth Cree when it first came out in 1995 and my desire to adapt it into a musical form never waned. It has been both a thrill and a challenge writing this libretto and trying to capture the many levels in Peter Ackroyd’s brilliant novel—murder mystery, historical fiction, English music hall, Gothic horror—while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats for ninety minutes. 

The title role will be created by Daniela Mack, a mezzo-soprano with “a voice like polished onyx: strong, dark, deep and gleaming” (Opera News). She explains: “The role of Elizabeth is complex! In a very short time, we see her grow from an abused and penniless orphan, to a wildly successful music hall performer, to a dignified Victorian lady on trial for the murder of her husband. The chance to embody so many different aspects of a single character will be a fascinating challenge for me as a performer.”

Opposite her, Troy Cook lends his “beautiful, robust baritone” (The New Criterion) to Elizabeth’s husband, John. Composing this role posed especial challenges, as Puts recalls: “John Cree’s writing in his diary about these gruesome murders, and for him it’s a turn-on. So do I set it from his point of view or do I make reference to its macabre nature in the music? I think in the end it has to do both: go between romance and horror.”

Charismatic tenor Joseph Gaines returns to Opera Philadelphia to round out the cast as charming Music Hall star Dan Leno. David Schweizer directs the suspenseful production, with Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris conducting the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra. Watch below as Puts, Campbell and Mack discuss Elizabeth Cree over drinks.

Composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and director Bill T. Jones. Credit: J. Cervantes; B. Hines; R. Holland.

We Shall Not Be Moved
Music by Daniel Bernard Roumain | Libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph
World Premiere
Co-commissioned and co-produced with The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire
September 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24, 2017
The Wilma Theater
Developed in partnership with Art Sanctuary
Performed in English with English Supertitles
New York Premiere: October 6, 7, 8, 2017 | The Apollo Theater
European Premiere: October 13, 14, 15, 18M, 20, 21, 2017 | Hackney Empire

What’s at stake here is America itself and its future. Who’s invited to participate?

On the run after a series of tragic incidents, five North Philly teens find refuge in an abandoned, condemned house in West Philadelphia. The home sits at the exact location that served as headquarters of the MOVE organization when, in 1985, a standoff with police infamously ended with a neighborhood destroyed and 11 people dead, including five children. This self-defined family is assuaged and even inspired by the ghosts who inhabit their Osage Avenue home and begin to see their squatting as a matter of destiny and resistance rather than self-preservation.

This world premiere chamber opera by Daniel Bernard Roumain – the acclaimed Haitian-American composer whose music blends funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music into a vital, experiential sonic form – and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, an arts activist known for spoken word performance, is “ambitiously interdisciplinary,” according to director, choreographer, and dramaturge Bill T. Jones. “We are plotting the course through treacherous terrain where musical forms, literary forms, and movement styles collide and, hopefully, fly,” said the celebrated choreographer, theater director, and dancer whose accolades include a MacArthur Fellowship, two Tony Awards, a Kennedy Center Honor, and a 2013 National Medal of Arts.

Spoken word artist Lauren Whitehead makes her company debut as Un/Sung, the self-appointed leader of the Family Stand, while Kirstin Chávez brings her “glorious voice” (Opera News) to the role of Glenda, a Philadelphia police officer whose encounter with the family leads to a standoff that could threaten to repeat history. Marian Anderson Vocal Award winner John Holiday, described as an “impressive young countertenor” with a “bright, virile voice” (The New York Times), creates the role of John Blue, with bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock as John Henry, baritone Adam Richardson as John Mack, and tenor Daniel Shirley as John Little.

Combining spoken word, contemporary movement, video projection, classical, R&B and jazz singing, and a brooding, often joyful score filled with place, purpose, and possibility, We Shall Not Be Moved is a timely exploration of past and present struggles.

“I'm excited and elated to be in collaboration with artists who share a long history of storytelling, deep inquiry, and innovation within the theater,” said Daniel Bernard Roumain. “When Opera Philadelphia approached me about creating a new work for them, I immediately wanted to develop a new chamber opera with Bill and Marc supporting an eclectic score within an immersive, theatrical experience. We have all been collaborating with one another for years, and this work, in some ways, is a culmination of dreams, desires, and talents.”

“My hope for the libretto is that it sensitively examines a historical moment, and legibly suggests an alternate future through the eyes of its young protagonists,” said Marc Bamuthi Joseph. “Structurally, the piece embellishes the traditional staples of the opera form with post-hip hop flourishes. This elasticity, this future-classic take on history in the present tense, is demanding a lot from the creative team, but I think we're uniquely prepared for the task.”

War Stories
A scene from the double bill presented in the Philadelphia Museum of Art Credit: Stephanie Berger

War Stories
Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda 
Music by Claudio Monteverdi
I Have No Stories to Tell You (Philadelphia Premiere)
Music by Lembit Beecher | Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch
Philadelphia Premiere
September 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 2017
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Co-presented by Opera Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Performed in Italian and English with English Supertitles

This “ingenious” (Wall Street Journal) site-specific double bill begins with Monteverdi’s timely tale of two warriors—one Christian, one Muslim—clashing in battle, staged in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s dramatic, medieval stone cloister, with its carved limestone cornices and 12th century fountain. This will be followed by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch’s response to Monteverdi’s masterwork, performed in the museum’s soaring Great Stair Hall, one of the city’s most iconic civic spaces.

Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, published in 1638, tells the story of the Christian soldier Tancredi (baritone Craig Verm) who battles with a Muslim soldier, unknown to Tancredi as his lover Clorinda (mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall) in disguise. When Clorinda is mortally wounded, Tancredi discovers her identity.

A graduate of Opera Philadelphia’s Composer in Residence program, Beecher collaborated with Moscovitch to create a response to Monteverdi’s work that focuses on the aftereffects of war. Their “cleverly devised, alluring one-act opera” (The New York Times) turns from the battlefield to domestic life to tell the story of Sorrel (Hall), a soldier who has returned home after extended assignment in the Middle East. Haunted by her experiences and reluctant to discuss them with a husband (Verm) who no longer seems to understand her, she struggles to readjust to home. Scored for a period instrument ensemble, and inspired by interviews with soldiers and army psychologists, I Have No Stories to Tell You explores the effects of war on one’s identity and sense of home.

“The opera asks how war changes us, and in particular, how it affects our relationships with those closest to us,” said Lembit Beecher. “In many ways, the end of the Monteverdi is the beginning of I Have No Stories to Tell You. While Il combattimento is about the act of war, my piece is about the aftereffects of war, the difficulty of coming home. Dramatically, both pieces center around a similar moment, a soldier holding a companion while s/he dies, though in the Monteverdi this moment is the culmination, and in my piece, it is a launching point, a memory that keeps haunting the soldier, Sorrel, throughout the work. Both pieces unfold as an intense series of confrontations between a man and a woman, and both pieces share many of the same themes: identity, gender, secrets, and sense of belonging. And ultimately, in each piece war acts as a catalyst for a changed sense of identity.”

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art offers a rich and evocative setting for the performance of several works in Opera Philadelphia’s 2017-18 season,” said Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “We are committed to civic engagement and to the role we can play in fostering creative spirit in our community. A collaboration like this is ideal for us, and a great opportunity for Opera Philadelphia to engage new audiences. The Museum is a place that, uniquely, brings the art of the past into conversation with the art of the present. Therefore, it is especially fitting that we host this exciting double bill—the pairing of a classic work by Monteverdi with a contemporary work that responds to it.”

Gary Thor Wedow conducts the orchestra, with direction by Robin Guarino

The Barnes Foundation Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelph

The Wake World
Music and Libretto by David Hertzberg
Based on the story The Wake World by Aleister Crowley
World Premiere
September 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 2017
The Barnes Foundation
Co-presented by Opera Philadelphia and the Barnes Foundation
Performed in English with English Supertitles

Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence David Hertzberg and director R.B. Schlather take visitors on a fantastical journey through the treasured galleries of The Barnes Foundation. In this world premiere, two of the early 20th century’s most prolific and polarizing artistic visionaries collide: physician, collector, and writer Dr. Albert C. Barnes (1872-1951) and Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the British poet, magician, and occultist once dubbed the “wickedest man in the world.”

In a one-act opera inspired by Crowley’s ecstatic fairy tale The Wake World, visitors will experience Dr. Barnes’s collection as never before, following a wide-eyed seeker named Lola (soprano Maeve Höglund) and her guardian angel (mezzo Rihab Chaieb) on a dreamlike voyage. Works of art jump off the gallery walls and into the action as the museum is transformed, with the voices of the Opera Philadelphia Chorus drawing the audience through a mystical world of hallucinatory vividness. As a fully immersive performance, The Wake World memorably challenges understandings of art, opera, and the self.

Hailed as “opulently gifted” (Opera News) and “utterly original” (The New York Times), David Hertzberg’s “riveting work demonstrates that a gifted young composer can be inspired by masters and still speak with a vibrantly personal style” (The New York Times). His music is enhanced by the “intriguing, inventive directorial vision” (The New York Times) of R.B. Schlather, a celebrated young director with an “ability to demolish the barriers of propriety and politeness that seem to plague much of traditional operatic experience” (Opera News).

“To me, the Barnes Foundation is less like a museum and more like a shrine: a strange and wondrous temple exhumed from outside of time, wrought with symbols and hieroglyphs whose sympathetic resonances carry some unspoken and inarticulable significance,” said David Hertzberg. “I wanted to create something that would explode this glorious and singular quality of the collection, and transform the way people experience the space. When I first read Aleister Crowley’s The Wake World several years ago, I was both confounded and intoxicated by it, and it has lingered with me since. During a site visit to the Barnes, I was struck by an essential sameness in the creative visions of Crowley and Dr. Barnes — that they both sought to disclose the veiled unity behind seemingly disparate things, to contrive a whole of their ever-expanding worlds —  and felt that the premise of Crowley’s ecstatic tale of self-discovery would be the seed from which my work would grow.”

“My own first visit to the Barnes collection left me marveling at the quality and variety of the paintings and objects, and also the unique way they are arranged. This is the highest compliment I can give: I love encountering art that is personal, mysterious, and puzzling,” said R.B. Schlather. “We want to create a disorienting experience of the Barnes for those who have been before as well as those patrons coming for the first time, creating their own personal experience of both the fantastic collection and the transformative operatic happening.”

“At the Barnes, we seek to create new points of entry into the collection, and to highlight it as the limitless fount of inspiration that it is. We look forward to welcoming our members, visitors and new audiences to experience the ground-breaking, world premiere of The Wake World, and to engage with the collection in a whole new way,” said Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation. “O17 is an incredibly innovative, creative operatic program that will engage and celebrate Philadelphia’s many diverse communities and beyond. We are thrilled to participate in the inaugural festival.” 

Sondra Radvanovsky Credit: Pavel Antonov

Sondra Radvanovsky
Festival Artist
In Recital | Sunday, September 17, 2:30 p.m.
Master Class | Monday, September 18, 2:30 p.m.
The Perelman Theater

Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky is a globally celebrated artist, praised by The New York Times for her “alluringly dark-hued voice, with its distinctive timbre, expressive vibrato and gleaming top notes.” The sincerity and intensity that she brings to the stage as one of the most prominent sopranos of her generation have won her accolades from critics and loyalty from passionate fans.

When The Washington Post praised her singing as “outright gorgeous, poignant and silvery,” it confirmed what Radvanovsky followers had known for years. The exquisite depth and color of her voice are matched by her artistry and versatility across a remarkable range of repertoire, from the title roles in Rusalka and Lucrezia Borgia to the enormously challenging Norma. Her signature role is Leonora in Il trovatore, and she is widely regarded as one of the premiere Verdi sopranos alive today. She was recently heralded for her remarkable take on Donizetti’s “Tudor Queens” trilogy, starring in Anna Bolena, Mary Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux during The Metropolitan Opera’s 2015-2016 season.

Opera Philadelphia is thrilled to welcome Ms. Radvanovsky as the inaugural Festival Artist during O17. The superstar soprano will perform a recital at the intimate Perelman Theater and conduct a Master Class with Opera Philadelphia Emerging Artists.


Written on Skin
Music by George Benjamin| Libretto by Martin Crimp
Philadelphia Premiere | New Production
February 9, 11M, 16, 18M, 2018
Academy of Music
Performed in English with English Supertitles

Since its 2012 premiere, composer George Benjamin’s first full-length opera, Written on Skin, has received wide critical acclaim. The New York Times called the score “a triumph for modernist musical languages” and Rupert Christiansen of The Telegraph said, “If Written on Skin doesn’t end up a modern classic, I’ll eat my hat.” Now this thrilling tale, with a haunting libretto by Martin Crimp, makes its Philadelphia debut.

A powerful landowner, the Protector, commissions a young artist to create an illuminated manuscript celebrating his life and family. When a relationship develops between the Boy and the Protector’s wife, Agnès, she compels him to reveal their clandestine love within his illustrations. Both passion and violence erupt in the household; all the while, a mysterious cluster of angels watches the story unfold. Drawn from a 12th-century legend but imbued with a contemporary twist, “an achievement like Written on Skin is awesome by any measure” (The New Yorker).

Lauren Snouffer lends her “rich-toned soprano” (Boston Globe) to the role of Agnès, alongside the “matinee-idol good looks, vocal warmth and personal charm” (Opera News) of baritone Mark Stone in his role debut as the Protector. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who boasts an “instrument of inexorable beauty” (Opera News), takes on the dual role of Boy and First Angel. Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris leads the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra in a new production by director Will Kerley, with set and costume design by Tom Rogers.

Music by Georges Bizet | Libretto by Ludovic Halévy, Henri Meilhac
April 27, 29M, May 2, 4, 6M, 2018
Academy of Music
Performed in French with English Supertitles

With its twisting tale of romance, deceit, and disaster set to magnetic melodies, Bizet’s masterpiece, Carmen, has become one of the world’s most popular operas.

Everyone is drawn to Carmen, an irresistible Spanish gypsy – except Corporal Don José. But even he soon succumbs to her seduction, fleeing a life in the military to join the gypsy world, all in Carmen’s name. When the famous bullfighter Escamillo begins to win her affection, however, a dangerous love triangle grows. Micaëla, Don José’s hometown sweetheart, attempts to wrest him from Carmen’s grasp, but to no avail – fate has already dealt its hand. This unforgettable story of runaway passions and dire consequences meets its match in Bizet’s intoxicating score in this bold new production from the team behind 2015's La traviata.

Heading a stellar cast, Daniela Mack portrays Carmen, an equally intoxicating heroine, bringing the “caramel timbre, flickering vibrato, and crisp articulation” (Opernwelt) of her mezzo-soprano to the iconic role. Evan LeRoy Johnson brings his “fervent tenor” (Philadelphia Magazine) to the role of Don José, alongside baritone Zachary Nelson, with his "strutting stage presence" (National Business Review), as Escamillo,and the Micaëla of soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, who impressed Opera UK with her “poise, expressive singing and excellent vocalism.” Paul Curran (La traviata) directs with Yves Abel leading the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra.


Opera lovers from the Philadelphia area and visitors to the city will enjoy an immersive experience in the fall, with curated hotel, restaurant, and leisure packages designed to enjoy O17 to its fullest, plus after-parties at a yet-to-be-announced festival hub. A full schedule of events and packages will go on sale along with single tickets to all performances in May.

“Philadelphia has always had great art—on our stages, in our museums, on the walls of our buildings, and in our civic spaces,” said Meryl Levitz, President and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA®. “Now, O17, presented by Opera Philadelphia, provides opera buffs and the opera-curious a new reason to visit Philadelphia. They can curate their own experience, pairing dynamic opera productions with museum tours, great meals, a bit of history, lively nightlife options, and an overnight stay in the middle of all the action.”



The Magic Flute, Written on Skin, and Carmen are performed at the Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets. Performance times are Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. (Please note: Written on Skin will not have a Wednesday performance.)

Elizabeth Cree is performed at the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce Streets. Performance times are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

We Shall Not Be Moved is performed at the Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street. Performance times are Saturdays, Sundays, Monday and Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

War Stories is performed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Performance times are Saturdays, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

The Wake World is performed at the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Performance times are Mondays, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday at 8:00 p.m.


Initial support for Opera Philadelphia's festival O has been provided by The William Penn Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Wyncote Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Presser Foundation, Mrs. Sandra K. Baldino, Judy and Peter Leone, Ms. Barbara Augusta Teichert, Donald and Gay Kimelman, and Caroline Kennedy. The Composer in Residence program is made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Described as “the very model of a modern opera company” by the Washington Post, Opera Philadelphia was the only American finalist for the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company. The company is charting a bold new path to September 2017, when Opera Philadelphia will open its 2017-18 season with an immersive, 12-day festival featuring seven operatic happenings in six venues throughout the city. The first festival, “O17,” will feature three world premieres and a Philadelphia premiere, plus the exclusive East Coast appearance of Barrie Kosky’s groundbreaking production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and a recital by superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Opera Philadelphia will continue to present a spring season each year, including two additional productions in February and April, making it the only U.S. opera company producing an annual opera season that begins with a dynamic festival. For more information, visit operaphila.org.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia's art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts. For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100. For more information, visit philamuseum.org.

The Barnes Foundation (barnesfoundation.org) was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to "promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture." The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles; American paintings and decorative arts; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. The Foundation's Barnes-de Mazia Education Program engages diverse audiences. These programs, held at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
The Barnes Arboretum, at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,500 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes a fern-leaf beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Laciniata'), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias and magnolias. The Horticulture program at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes.

Art Sanctuary is dedicated to bringing Philadelphians together through the unique community-building power of black art. We celebrate diversity passionately, understanding the unparalleled strength we gain by embracing our cultural differences. We use this strength to provide opportunities where they do not yet exist; when Philadelphia schools are underfunded and inner city neighborhoods underserved, Art Sanctuary sees possibilities and works to bring them to life through the transformative influence of black art in the community. Art Sanctuary is just that; we’ve worked tirelessly to build a safe place for creative expression and development of not just the community, but the self. We believe this sanctuary transcends physical space, and that the idea of “home” is one we carry with us. Home is a place that is welcome to all, and shaped by the relationships which inspire us. For more information, visit artsanctuary.org.

The legendary Apollo Theater—the soul of American culture—plays a vital role in cultivating emerging talents and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.
With music at its core, the Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes the October 2014 premiere and 2015 international tour of the dance celebration project James Brown: Get on the Good Foot, the annual Africa Now! Festival, and the recent New York premiere of the opera Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD. The Apollo is a presenting organization that also produces festivals, large-scale dance and music works organized around a set of core initiatives: Apollo Music Signature Programs—Amateur Night, Salon Series, Apollo Music Café; Legacy Series— work that celebrates and extends the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens; Global Festivals including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival and Breakin’ Convention, international and U.S.-based artist presentations focused on a specific theme; and Special Projects, multidisciplinary work with partner organizations.
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms, and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, Miri Ben Ari, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, and Stevie Wonder; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy.
The Apollo Theater is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to extend the institution’s role in fostering artistic innovation and in building appreciation of American culture around the world. For more information, visit apollotheater.org.

Hackney Empire is a special building in a special place. Built in East London in 1901 by Frank Matcham and fully refurbished and restored in 2004, it is an extraordinarily atmospheric theatre. A Grade II* listed building, Hackney Empire has always been a confluence of the arts and popular culture. Today Hackney Empire has the world on its doorstep and the world on its stage.
We are a positive and passionate organization and our core values of EXCELLENCE, DIVERSITY and ENGAGEMENT consistently underpin all aspects of our artistic and cultural proposition. In the period from 2017 we will further develop and focus our distinctive offer to an ever-growing and astonishingly wide range of customers.
We look to commission, produce and present work that is both local and global in its appeal and its origins - work accessible to local Hackney audiences and attractive to audiences from across London and beyond. We are determined to nurture and present work that is at once extraordinary, inclusive, inspirational and transformative.
Music – and especially its intrinsic role in emotional narrative – is at the heart of Hackney Empire’s work. We actively celebrate culturally diverse artists and audiences, and nurture early-career artists. By developing and collaborating on innovative work we aim to become a truly dynamic place for audiences to experience opera in the 21st century.
We are delighted to be partnering with Opera Philadelphia over the next few years. This is much more than a sharing of resources. It will build bridges for audiences into opera and break boundaries within the art form itself. For more information, visit hackneyempire.co.uk

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