Opera Philadelphia

Published20 Mar 2018

Opera Philadelphia's 2018-2019 Season Kicks off in September with O18 Festival

When Opera Philadelphia’s inaugural Festival O launched the present season, the opera world responded with a standing ovation, welcoming it as “one of the most enjoyable additions to the fall calendar in years” (The Washington Post). Now, content “not to follow taste but to lead it” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), the company continues to shape the future of opera. The 2018-2019 season kicks off on September 20-30 with the festival’s second edition, O18, comprising five operatic happenings – two world premieres, two new productions, and a three-part cabaret event – at multiple venues across the city. The season continues in spring 2019 with a pair of repertory favorites in the historic Academy of Music as well as two co-presentations with Curtis Opera Theatre and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at the intimate Perelman Theater. Tackling thought-provoking subject matter and cutting-edge takes on the classics while providing extraordinary artists with the chance to create their most imaginative work, the new season underscores Opera Philadelphia’s status as “one of the most creative and ambitious companies in this country” (The New York Times).

O18
O18 takes place from September 20-30, 2018 Credit: The Karma Agency

Anchoring both the O18 festival and the company’s year-round Opera at the Academy series is a new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor from celebrated director and designer Laurent Pelly, named Best Director at the 2016 International Opera Awards. Co-produced with Wiener Staatsoper, the production debuts in Philadelphia before moving on to Vienna in February 2019. Coloratura soprano Brenda Rae showcases her “consummate musicality and killer technique” (Financial Times) in the title role, with baritone Troy Cook bringing his “dynamic elegance” (Opera News) to the role of her conniving brother,Enrico. Tenor Michael Spyres, hailed for his “limitless grace and vocal purity” (The Guardian), makes his company debut as Edgardo.

Composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, the team behind O17’s I Have No Stories to Tell You, return to Opera Philadelphia for the world premiere of Sky on Swings, a chamber opera that reflects on the impermanence of memory and the onset of a new hallucinatory reality untethered from identity and history. Beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade – “one of America’s finest artists and singers” (The New York Times) – portrays Danny, a proud woman whose entry to an assisted-living facility yields an unlikely companion in Martha, played by the “dignified” and “dramatic” (Opera News) Marietta Simpson. Together, the women exist in a love-filled, fantastical, and hallucinatory reality. Staged in the Perelman Theater, site of the recent world premieres of Elizabeth Cree, Breaking the Waves, and Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, the opera is directed by Joanna Settle.

Anthony Roth Costanzo, whose “blazing countertenor” (Wall Street Journal) graced February’s Philadelphia premiere of Written on Skin, returns in O18 to create the world premiere production of an immersive operatic installation with the New York-based luxury art and fashion multimedia company Visionaire. Pairing the music of Handel and Philip Glass, Glass Handel showcases collaborations with stars from the worlds of art, fashion, dance, and film. Staged in the expansive Annenberg Court of the Barnes Foundation, home to O17’s The Wake World, Glass Handel will offer a new way to experience live music, creating a unique experience for each audience member.

The site-specific production Ne Quittez Pas (Hold the Line) from director James Darrah (Breaking the Waves) offers an expanded context for Poulenc’s La voix humaine, setting the one-woman opera in the cabaret setting of Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts (TLA). Traditional productions of La voix humaine inevitably leave audiences wondering just who is on the other end of the line. The prelude that opens Opera Philadelphia’s voyeuristic multimedia staging answers that question, when baritone Edward Nelson performs a collection of French art and cabaret songs before soprano Patricia Racette, “the most fearless woman in opera” (Los Angeles Times), gives an intimate account of one of opera’s most powerful monologues.

The TLA will also be the site of a three-night, three-part cabaret takeover titled Queens of the Night starring renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe (aka Blythely Oratonio) and the “drag queen king” Dito van Reigersberg (aka Martha Graham Cracker). Philadelphia's cabaret stars, opera singers, and special surprise guests strut their stuff as Blythely and Martha preside over the pomp and pageantry, while casting furtive glances across the room at one another. It all leads up to a special reprise performance of Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night,the 2017 caba-play spectacular called "smart and bubbly in all the right places" by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The festival will also include two Friday afternoon recitals featuring members of Opera Philadelphia’s Emerging Artists Program from the Curtis Institute of Music in the intimate Field Concert Hall. Singers and repertoire will be announced prior to O18.

Following the fall festival, February brings the U.S. production premiere of Robert Carsen’s classic staging of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which finally makes its way stateside after a quarter-century of audience and critical acclaim in Europe. To conclude the Academy season, April marks the return of Davide Livermore’s “visually inventive and colorful” (Opera News) production of Puccini’s La bohème, featuring soprano Vanessa Vasquez – a grand-prize winner at the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017 National Council auditions – in her company debut as Mimì.

Opera Philadelphia will also partner with the Curtis Institute of Music and the Kimmel Center to co-present two productions at the Perelman Theater. March brings Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a new production by R.B. Schlather, the “edgy and imaginative young director” (The New Yorker) behind O17’s The Wake World, winner of the Music Critics Association of North America's award for Best New Opera, and the Curtis Opera Theatre’s Doctor Atomic. Curtis alumna Karina Canellakis, part of an exciting new generation of female conductors, conducts this classic Mozart opera. In May, the Perelman Theater will be the site of a new production of Empty the House, a 2016 opera composed by Curtis alum and Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Rene Orth, featuring a new orchestration and libretto by Mark Campbell.

“This season, we have curated three operas in the Academy of Music that our audience very likely know and love. We certainly do,” said David B. Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia. “But along with this commitment to explore the finest the canon has to offer comes a commitment to continue to journey into the future of opera by creating new works, interesting, site-specific productions, chamber productions with incredible partners, and multimedia installations that both push the boundaries of opera while also making us fall in love anew with this amazing art form.”

O18 festival packages and full-season subscriptions are now on sale at operaphila.org, or by calling 215.732.8400 (Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Single tickets will go on sale on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, at operaphila.org or 215.732.8400.

Lucia di Lammermoor
Credit: The Karma Agency

O18
September 20-30, 2018

Lucia di Lammermoor
Music by Gaetano Donizetti | Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano
New Production | Co-produced by Opera Philadelphia and Wiener Staatsoper
September 21, 23, 26, 28, 30, 2018
Academy of Music
Performed in Italian with English Supertitles

Often considered the Scottish take on Romeo & Juliet, Lucia di Lammermoor explores the depths of passion and despair that overtake its heroine, who is used as a political pawn for her family. When the defiant yet fragile Lucia is forced to marry a man she does not love—rather than her beloved Edgardo, the mortal enemy of her brother Enrico—Lucia is driven to derangement, escalating to one of the most haunting mad scenes in all of opera.

Returning to the Opera Philadelphia stage for the first time in more than two decades, Donizetti’s bel canto classic takes a dreamlike, ethereal turn courtesy of “A-plus director” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Laurent Pelly, named Best Director at the 2016 International Opera Awards. Taking center stage is coloratura soprano Brenda Rae, whose performances in the title role have been called “astounding” (The Classical Review).  Baritone Troy Cook brings his “dynamic elegance” (Opera News) to the role of Enrico, alongside tenor Michael Spyres, known for his “limitless grace and vocal purity” (The Guardian), in his company debut as Edgardo. Maestro Corrado Rovaris, a master of the Donizetti tradition having likewise hailed from Bergamo, Italy, leads the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Lucia / Brenda Rae
Edgardo / Michael Spyres*
Enrico / Troy Cook
Raimondo / Christian Van Horn*
Arturo / Andrew Owens*

Conductor / Corrado Rovaris
Director / Laurent Pelly*
Set Design / Chantal Thomas*
Costume Design / Laurent Pelly*
Lighting Design / Duane Schuler

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Sky on Swings
Credit: The Karma Agency

Sky on Swings
Music by Lembit Beecher| Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch
World Premiere
September 20, 22, 25, 27, 29, 2018
Perelman Theater
Performed in English with English Supertitles

Is there any grace in forgetting? Can time’s cruel and random destruction of memory also produce fleeting moments of happiness and love, unencumbered by the past and stripped of the self?

Composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, the team behind O17’s I Have No Stories to Tell You, return to Opera Philadelphia for the world premiere of an opera that reflects on the impermanence of memory and the onset of a surreal new reality, untethered from identity and history. Beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade brings her “superior artistry … and unpretentious passion” (Opera News) to the role of Danny, a proud woman who finds unlikely companionship with Martha, portrayed by mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson, whose performances are imbued with “infinitely touching and vivid expressiveness” (Opera News).Together in a care home, the two women share a love-filled, fantastical, and hallucinatory experience of reality, as captured in the “hauntingly lovely” (San Francisco Chronicle) music of Lembit Beecher. Daniel Taylor and Opera Philadelphia newcomer Sharleen Joynt round out the ensemble as the women’s children, in a production by celebrated theater director Joanna Settle.

Aurora productions in the Perelman Theater are underwritten, in part, by the Wyncote Foundation at the recommendation of Frederick R. Haas. Additional production support received by the Allen R. and Judy Brick Freedman Venture Fund for New Opera.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Danny / Frederica von Stade
Martha / Marietta Simpson
Ira / Daniel Taylor
Winnie / Sharleen Joynt*

Conductor / Geoffrey McDonald*
Director / Joanna Settle*
Set Design / Andrew Lieberman
Costume Design / Tilly Grimes*
Projection Design / Jorge Cousineau
Lighting Design / Pat Collins
Sound Design / Daniel Perelstein 

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Glass Handel
Credit: The Karma Agency

Glass Handel
Music by Philip Glass and George Frideric Handel
World Premiere Production | Produced by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Visionaire, and Cath Brittan
Co-presented by Opera Philadelphia, the Barnes Foundation, and National Sawdust
September 22, 23, 30, 2018
The Barnes Foundation
Performed in English and Italian

Superstar countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, together with the New York-based luxury art and fashion multimedia company Visionaire, creates an hour-long operatic art installation with the music of G. F. Handel and Phillip Glass. Incorporating music, art, fashion, dance, film, and technology, the immersive evening will offer each audience member a unique experience in the expansive Annenberg Court of the Barnes Foundation

“Opera Philadelphia is really pushing the boundaries of what opera can be, and we want to take it even further and reach out to new audiences, people who are aesthetically primed for a fascinating experience that exists within the context of opera,” said Costanzo.

Glass Handel initially appears to be a traditional concert setting, but quickly deconstructs as audience members are taken on different paths through the space, encountering visuals from a variety of disciplines. The evening will feature live painting by George Condo, “one of the most influential living American artists” (Vanity Fair); new work by the prolific Justin Peck, choreographer in residence of New York City Ballet and choreographer for Broadway’s upcoming revival of Carousel, with star dancer Patricia Delgado formerly of Miami City Ballet; and videos by 2018 Academy Award-winner James Ivory of Merchant Ivory, Rupert Sanders, director of  the blockbuster Ghost in the Shell, and Pix Talarico,director of over 200 music videos and multiple Grammy Award nominee, along with many others.

Opera Philadelphia’s world premiere production also serves as the international launch for the first recording of Costanzo’s exclusive new contract with Decca Gold, the U.S.-based classical label of Universal Music Group. Recorded with Les Violons du Roy, the new album combines arias by Handel, including “Pena tiranna” from Amadigi di Gaula and “Stille amare” from Tolomeo, with new arrangements from Glass’s catalogue, the “Hymn” from Akhnaten, and a world-premiere recording. This integration of the contemporary with Baroque epitomizes Costanzo’s iconoclastic approach to the countertenor repertoire.

“For me, singing is about emotion, and both Handel and Glass generate a kind of cathartic drama, but often in completely different ways,” Costanzo explained. “I can’t wait to explore how these operatic emotions can impact a wide spectrum of listeners.”

Glass Handel will continue on to New York and beyond after the Philadelphia premiere.

Ne Quittez Pas
Credit: The Karma Agency

Ne Quittez Pas (Hold the Line)
A reimagined La voix humaine
Music by Francis Poulenc | Libretto by Jean Cocteau
Based on the play by Jean Cocteau
September 22, 23, 27, 29, 30, 2018
Theatre of Living Arts
Performed in French with English supertitles

This site-specific new production begins with an intimate performance featuring a selection of French art and cabaret songs, followed by one of opera’s most powerful monologues, La voix humaine (The Human Voice), where a lonely woman lays bare the heartbreak of unrequited love. Based on an original play by Jean Cocteau, where "the telephone is sometimes more dangerous than the revolver, its tangled cord drains us of our strength, while giving us nothing in return,” Poulenc—well-acquainted with this type of torment, having gone through a breakup himself—described his telephonic opera as a “musical confession.”

This voyeuristic, multimedia staging begins with a prelude that answers the lingering question of La voix humaine, “Who is on the other line?” as the “attractive,” “agile,” and “ardent” (Opera News) Edward Nelson performs a collection of French art and cabaret songs. Soprano Patricia Racette then takes the stage in a “deeply poignant performance as the unhappy heroine of Poulenc’s setting” who “colors words with supple phrasing, velvety tone, and excellent French diction” (Chicago Tribune). Directed by the “incredibly ingenious, creative, and talented” (Huffington Post) James Darrah.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Elle / Patricia Racette*
Le Jeune Homme / Edward Nelson*
Music Director & Pianist / Christopher Allen*

Director / James Darrah
Costume Design / Chrisi Karvonides
Lighting Design / Pablo Santiago

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Queens of the Night
Credit: The Karma Agency

Queens of the Night

September 24, 2018: Cabaret Night hosted by Blythely Oratonio
September 25, 2018: Cabaret Night hosted by Martha Graham Cracker
September 28, 2018: Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night

Theatre of Living Arts
Performed in English

The Theatre of Living Arts (TLA) becomes the site of a three-night, three-part cabaret takeover hosted by Blythely Oratonio (aka Stephanie Blythe) and Martha Graham Cracker (aka Dito van Reigersberg). Philadelphia's cabaret stars, opera singers, and special surprise guests strut their stuff as Blythely and Martha preside over the pomp and pageantry, while casting furtive glances across the room at one another. It all leads up to a special reprise performance of Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night,the 2017 caba-play spectacular called "smart and bubbly in all the right places" by The Philadelphia Inquirer. "For a night, anyway, Philadelphia managed to put what seemed like one of everyone into a single room—gay, straight, young, slacker, and establishment types—and the world was a loving, funny place."

Written and directed by John Jarboe (Bearded Ladies Cabaret), Dito & Aeneas is a concert and dance party with costumes designed by Machine Dazzle, whose elaborate designs for Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music were described as “gaudy, glittery, and gorgeously subversive” by The New York Times.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Blythely Oratonio / Stephanie Blythe
Martha Graham Cracker / Dito van Reigersberg

Writer and Director/ John Jarboe
Music Director and Arrangements / Daniel Kazemi
Costumes and Scenic Design / Machine Dazzle
Martha Costumes /Max Brown
Lighting Design / Drew Billiau
Sound Design / Daniel Perelstein

 

Fridays at Field
Co-presented with the Curtis Institute of Music
September 21 and 28, 2018
Field Concert Hall
Curtis Institute of Music
Singers and repertoire to be announced

Hear tomorrow’s stars on today’s stage, as members of Opera Philadelphia’s Emerging Artists Program from the Curtis Institute of Music perform in recital at the historic and intimate Field Concert Hall.

Midsummer
Credit: The Karma Agency

Spring 2019

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Music by Benjamin Britten | Libretto by Benjamin Britten & Peter Pears
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
U.S. Production Premiere | Production of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence & Opera National de Lyon
February 8, 10, 15, 17, 2019
Academy of Music
Performed in English with English Supertitles

Having toured the world for over a quarter century, Robert Carsen’s staging of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream finally makes its way stateside. This jovial adaptation of Shakespeare’s popular comedy follows a throng of characters as they get tangled in complicated love triangles, mistaken identities, and alarming transformations. Join the Fairies, the Royals, and the Rustics on a beguiling journey that explores the blurred lines between reality and dreams, the natural and supernatural, and sexual desire.

Hailed as a show that's so much fun” (The Guardian), this much-traveled production features beguiling orchestration and melodic invention that will enchant and entice. Leading the cast, countertenor Tim Mead revisits his “seductive and commanding” portrayal of Oberon (The Guardian) opposite the “sexy and flirty” (The Wall Street Journal) Tytania of soprano Anna Christy. Birgit Nilsson Prize-winning tenor Brenton Ryan, “sensational” (The Financial Times) soprano Georgia Jarman, andCurtis Institute of Music graduate Matthew Rose – styled the “top of the Bottoms” by The Times of Londonfor his “funny and touchingly endearing” performance (The Guardian) – round out the colorful operatic cast. Complementing them with his “richest of speaking voices and fearless tumbling skills” (Bachtrack) is Game of Thrones alumnus Miltos Yerolemou as Puck.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Oberon / Tim Mead*
Tytania / Anna Christy*
Puck / Miltos Yerolemou*
Helena / Georgia Jarman*
Hermia / TBD
Lysander / Brenton Ryan
Demetrius / Johnathan McCullough
Theseus / Evan Hughes*
Hippolyta / Allyson McHardy*
Bottom / Matthew Rose
Flute / Miles Mykkanen*

Conductor / Corrado Rovaris
Director / Emmanuelle Bastet*
Original Direction / Robert Carsen*
Set & Costume Design / Michael Levine
Lighting Design / Robert Carsen* and Peter Van Praet* 

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Don Giovanni
Credit: The Karma Agency

Don Giovanni
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
March 7, 8, 9, 10, 2019
Perelman Theater
Performed in Italian with English Supertitles
Curtis Opera Theatre at the Perelman in partnership with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Opera Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts have teamed up for a decade of co-presentations, hailed as “must-see events for serious operagoers” by Opera News. Under the artistic direction of Mikael Eliasen, the Curtis Opera Theatre has become known for imaginative productions, bold concepts, and absorbing theatre. Promising young singers work alongside professional directors and designers, resulting in innovative, one-of-a-kind productions. In addition to a four-opera season in Philadelphia at venues including the Prince Theater, Curtis Opera Studio, and Perelman Theater, Curtis’s voice and opera students appear frequently with Curtis on Tour, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Philadelphia.

Director R.B. Schlather has brought his distinctive vision to Curtis Opera Theatre in recent seasons, directing striking 2017 productions of Doctor Atomic by John Adams and Impressions of Pelléas by Claude Debussy. He brings his distinctive vision to this new production of Mozart’s classic opera based on the legends of Don Juan, led by Karina Canellakis, called an “impressive rising conductor” by the LA Times.

Full cast and creative team details will be announced with the Curtis Opera Theatre season later this year.

La Boheme
Credit: The Karma Agency

La bohème
Music by Giacomo Puccini | Libretto by Luigi Illica, Giuseppe Giacosa
Production of the Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofía” in Valencia, Spain, in 2012
April 26, 28, May 1, 3, 5, 2019
Academy of Music
Performed in Italian with English Supertitles

A chance encounter on a winter night changes everything for Mimì and Rodolfo, sending them into a deep, passionate romance in the heart of Paris, living among other young Bohemians who are making art and falling in love. This popular revival of Puccini’s romantic blockbuster features masterpieces from the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Vivid projections of some of the world’s most renowned Impressionist art from the turn of the 20th century—including works from Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Cassatt—will set the stage at the Academy of Music.

When first mounted by Opera Philadelphia in 2012, Davide Livermore’s “visually inventive and colorful” (Opera News) production was deemed “an absolute success, full of fine singing and acting, and eye-filling stage direction” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). In this much-anticipated revival, 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions-winning soprano Vanessa Vasquez—known for “melting all hearts” (Chicago Tribune)—makes her Opera Philadelphia debut as the shy seamstress Mimì. Opposite her as Rodolfo is Evan LeRoy Johnson, who impressed Philadelphia magazine with his “ardently full-voiced tenor.” Baritone Troy Cook returns to the role he had in 2012, during which he offereda strong, well-rounded portrayal of Marcello” (Opera News). The “mellow-voiced and charismatic” (The New York Times) baritone Will Liverman (Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD) returns as Schaunard, with the “aural and interpretive beauty” (WQXR) of Peixin Chen as Colline.

CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
Rodolfo / Evan LeRoy Johnson
Mimì / Vanessa Vasquez*
Marcello / Troy Cook
Musetta / TBD
Schaunard / Will Liverman
Colline / Peixin Chen
Benoit & Alcindoro / Kevin Burdette

Conductor / Corrado Rovaris
Direction & Set Design / Davide Livermore
Costume Design / Davide Livermore and Palau de Les Arts
Audiovisual / D-Wok

*Opera Philadelphia debut

Empty the House
Credit: The Karma Agency

Empty the House
Music by Rene Orth| Libretto by Mark Campbell
May 2, 4, 5, 2019
Perelman Theater
Performed in English with English Supertitles
Curtis Opera Theatre at the Perelman in partnership with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

Rene Orth is a composer who "breaks new ground" (Opera News), writing music described as “...always dramatic, reflective, rarely predictable, and often electronic” (Musical America).  The Dallas, Texas native is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she held the Edward B. Garrigues Fellowship, and currently serves as Opera Philadelphia’s sixth Composer in Residence, a post that she will hold through the 2018-19 season.

Orth’s chamber opera, Empty the House, with a libretto by Mark Campbell, received its world premiere with Curtis Opera Theatre in a sold-out run in January 2016. An intimate, poignant exploration of the complex nature of forgiveness, the opera centers on a mother who invites her grown daughter home for a last weekend in a house filled with painful memories, which nearly overwhelm them both. In this new production, Orth will expand the orchestration for chamber orchestra, originally written for a nine-instrument ensemble and electronic soundtrack.

Full cast and creative team details will be announced with the Curtis Opera Theatre season later this year.

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