26 February 2017
Opera Philadelphia's 2017-18 Season, Kicking Off Inaugural O17 Festival, to Feature Three World Premieres, Including Kevin Puts's Elizabeth Cree and Daniel Bernard Roumain's We Shall Not Be Moved
Season will also include War Stories, a site-specific double-bill to be staged at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; David Hertzberg's The Wake World at the Barnes Foundation; Barrie Kosky's The Magic Flute; a New Production of George Benjamin's Written on Skin; and a new production of Carmen
PERA PHILADELPHIA'S 2017-18 season, in which the company will present its inaugural fall festival, dubbed O17, is to feature three world premieres, two local premieres of modern works, two standard repertory works in new stagings and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky serving in the role of festival artist, the company announced today.
The season opens with a twelve-day festival running from September 14 to 25, wherein the company will present more than twenty-five performances in six different venues across the city.
“The 2017-2018 season truly pushes the limits of how and where and why we experience this wonderful art form,” David B. Devan, Opera Philadelphia’s general director said in a statement released today. “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.”
The season opens with the East Coast premiere of Barrie Kosky’s Komische Oper Berlin production of The Magic Flute taking the stage of the Academy of Music. The Australian director’s staging, created with British theatre group 1927, alludes to 1920s silent movies and finds the principals interacting with animated projections in homage to Mozart’s opera. Ben Bliss will sing Tamino to Rachel Sterrenberg’s Pamina; baritone Jarrett Ott will sing Papageno and Olga Pudova takes on the Queen of the Night. David Charles Abell’s baton will pace the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and chorus.
The company will also present the world premiere of a chamber opera based on Peter Ackroyd’s The Trial of Elizabeth Cree, which will feature the creative team behind the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night: Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell’s new opera, Elizabeth Cree, will be set in London in the 1880s as the titular heroine is put on trial for the poisoning her husband. Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack will sing the title role, while baritone Troy Cook will sing Elizabeth’s husband John; tenor Joseph Gaines will sing the music hall star Dan Leno. David Schweizer will direct the production, and Opera Philadelphia’s music director Corrado Rovaris will conduct.
The world premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved—a chamber opera featuring music by Daniel Bernard Roumain and a libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph—will take the stage of the Wilma Theater in a production staged by director, choreographer and dramaturge Bill T. Jones on September 16. The piece, co-commissioned and co-produced with the Apollo Theater and London’s Hockey Empire, will tell the story of five North Philadelphia teens who find refuge in a condemned house on Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia that is inhabited by the ghosts of members of the MOVE organization. Spoken word artist Lauren Whitehead makes her company debut as Un/Sung, the self- appointed leader of the Family Stand, and Kirstin Chávez sings the role of Glenda, a Philadelphia police officer. Countertenor John Holiday will create the role of John Blue, bass-baritone Aubrey Allicock sings John Henry and baritone Adam Richardson sings John Mack. The piece will fuse spoken word, contemporary movement, video projection, classical, R&B and jazz influences.
War Stories, a site-specific double-bill staged at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, will feature will feature Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda performed alongside Lembit Beecher’s I Have No Stories to Tell You. Monteverdi’s opera, which tells the story of a Christian soldier Tancredi who battles with a Muslim solider—who turns out to be his lover in disguise—will be staged in the museum’s medieval stone cloister and will feature baritone Craig Verm as Tancredi and mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall as Clorinda. Lembit Beecher’s opera, which features a libretto by Hannah Moscovitch, will be performed in the museum’s Great Stair Hall, and is meant to function as a response to Monteverdi’s scene that considers the aftermath of war. Hall sings the role of Sorrel, who returns home to her husband, sung by Verm, after an extended tour of duty in the Middle East. Robin Guarino wills stage the double-bill and Gary Thor Wedow will conduct a period-instrument ensemble.
The world premiere of The Wake World, by Opera Philadelphia composer in resident David Hertzberg, will play at the Barnes Foundation in a immersive production by R.B. Schlather on September 18. Inspired by Aleister Crowley’s ecstatic fairy tale, the one-act opera will allow audiences to experience Barnes’s art collection as they follow mezzo Rihab Chaieb — singing “a wide-eyed seeker and her guardian angel” — on an immersive, dreamlike voyage that will also feature the Opera Philadelphia Chorus.
Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, the company’s first festival-artist, will present a recital at the Perelman Theater on September 17 and will conduct a masterclass with Opera Philadelphia emerging artists the following day.
Opera Philadelphia’s spring season begins on February 9, when it presents a new production of composer George Benjamin’s acclaimed 2012 opera, Written on Skin; the work, which will be seen for the first time in Philadelphia, features a libretto by Martin Crimp. Lauren Snouffer sings the role of Agnès, Anthony Roth
Costanzo sings the dual role of Boy and First Angel and baritone Mark Stone makes his role debut as the Protector; Corrado Rovaris conducts and director Will Kerley stages the new production.
Director Paul Curran’s new production of Carmen will close the company’s season, and will feature mezzo Daniela Mack in the title role. Joining her will be Evan LeRoy Johnson as Don José, Zachary Nelson as Eecamillo and Kirsten MacKinnon as Micaëla; Yves Abel conducts.
More information can be found at Opera Philadelphia.