Gilbert Resigns from Santa Fe Opera; 2008 Season to Feature U.S. Premiere of Adriana Mater

Santa Fe Opera announced today that after a four-year tenure, Alan Gilbert has resigned as the company's music director.

A statement issued by the Opera said that Gilbert's burgeoning international schedule had made it difficult for him to fulfill the demands of his position with the company. In addition to the music directorship of Santa Fe Opera, Gilbert is chief conductor and artistic advisor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor of Hamburg's North German Radio Symphony Orchestra.

"We are honored to have had Alan as our music director for four wonderful years," said Santa Fe Opera general director, Richard Gaddes, in the statement. "Our time together has been delightful and many things have been accomplished. The Opera Orchestra has never sounded better. The operas he has led have been outstanding. Last year's production of The Tempest comes especially to mind. Alan is a profoundly gifted musician, and his career is skyrocketing. All of us at The Santa Fe Opera wish him well, and look forward to having him return to our podium in future years. He will always be welcome."

"It is a very bittersweet moment for me to leave The Santa Fe Opera," said Mr. Gilbert in the statement. "It is a great opera company with the highest musical standards. I have had the privilege of working with a superb orchestra, gifted singers, and fabulous creative teams as well as the dedicated Opera staff. The position of Music Director unfortunately requires a time commitment that at the present I feel I am unable to make."

Gilbert's long association with the company dates back to 1993, when he served as the orchestra's assistant concertmaster. In 2003, he was made Santa Fe Opera's first music director. In addition, both of Gilbert's parents played in the Opera orchestra, with his father having served as concertmaster for a number of years.

News of Gilbert's resignation came on the same day that Richard Gaddes announced plans for the company's 2008 season. Running from June 27 through August 23, 2008, the company's offerings will include the American premiere of Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Mater, the Santa Fe Opera premieres of Billy Budd and Handel's Radamisto - both in new productions - as well as new productions of Nozze di Figaro and Falstaff.

"2008 is a wonderfully varied season that spans four centuries, from the 1720 Radamisto to the 2006 Adriana Mater," Gaddes is quoted as saying. "Our choices this season are in a long-standing tradition of presenting a mix of popular favorites, some rarities and something brand new. We have learned that our audiences are eager to hear operas they might not have heard before, and they seem to be willing to put faith in our choices. Certainly that proved to be the case last year when all the performances sold out."

Adriana Mater premiered in Paris in 2006 in a production by Peter Sellars, featuring sets designed by George Tsypin; the pair will reunite for the Santa Fe performances, which will mark the second Saariaho opera mounted by the company, following the successful 2002 presentation of her L'Amour de Loin. Spanish conductor Ernest Martinez Izquierdo will make his American debut pacing the performances, which will feature mezzo Monica Groop in the title role, Finnish soprano Pia Freund as Refka, tenor Joseph Kaiser as Jonas and bass Raymond Aceto as Tsargo.

The company's new production of Falstaff will feature Laurent Naouri and Anthony Michaels-Moore sharing the opera's title role, with Paolo Arrivabeni leading the performances in his American debut. The opera, which marked the first Verdi work performed by the company, will be staged by a director that the company plans to announce at a later date.

British theater director Jonathan Kent, who staged the company's production of Thomas Adès' The Tempest in 2006, will stage its new production of Figaro. Luca Pisaroni will make his company debut as Figaro under the baton of Kenneth Montgomery. The cast also includes Elizabeth Watts's Susanna, Susanna Phillips's Countess, Mariusz Kwiecien's Almaviva and Isabel Leonard's Cherubino.

Baroque specialist Harry Bicket conducts David Alden's new production of Radamisto, which will feature countertenor David Daniels making his company debut as Radamisto. Soprano Laura Claycomb also makes her Santa Fe Opera debut as Polissena; sopranist Michael Maniaci sings Fraarte; and Luca Pisaroni is Tiridate.

The company's new production of Billy Budd will be directed by Paul Curran and conducted by Edo de Waart. New Zealander Teddy Tahu Rhodes makes his company debut in the title role, singing alongside William Burden's Vere, Peter Rose's Claggart, Richard Stilwell's Mr. Redburn, John Stephens's Lieutenant Ratcliffe and Keith Jameson's Novice.

Gaddes also announced today that Santa Fe Opera has commissioned its first work, an adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's 1927 drama, The Letter. The opera, which will be the first written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec, is scheduled to premiere as part of the company's 2009 season. The work will feature a libretto by Wall Street Journal drama critic, Terry Teachout.

"Maugham's narrative is timeless and universal, naturally operatic in its dramatic arc and emotional intensity," Moravec is quoted as saying. Teachout added: "We're shaping The Letter into a very tight structure - ninety minutes with no intermission. We want it to have the feel of a film noir and the impact of a verismo opera."

More information can be found at Santa Fe Opera and the OPERA NEWS Archives.

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Current Issue: September 2014 — VOL. 79, NO. 3