Virginia Opera, The Official Opera Company of The Commonwealth of Virginia, announces its 2013-14 Season that features four, brand-new mainstage productions and two Special Engagement productions that span comedy, drama, farce and grand opera. The Company's 39th Subscription Season will open with Falstaff in September, followed by The Magic Flutein November, Ariadne auf Naxos in February, and Carmen in March. Special Engagements next season will include performances of The Girl of the Golden West in January and Sweeney Todd in May.
Russell P. Allen, President and CEO, stated "Virginia Opera is bringing to The Commonwealth a season that sparkles with new productions of old favorites and new productions of works not done by the Opera in 25-30 years. Also, it is exciting to offer two productions never previously produced by Virginia Opera. It will be a most memorable year for all of us."
"With the announcement of its enviable 2013-14 season, Virginia Opera takes another leap forward in providing its supporters and subscribers with an even wider variety of musical and dramatic experiences, and a surge in artistic quality that is nothing short of astounding," said Robin Thompson, Virginia Opera's Artistic Advisor.
FALSTAFF - Verdi
Virginia Opera will open the season by celebrating the bicentennial of Giuseppe Verdi's birth with performances of Falstaff beginning Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House. This effervescent, quicksilver comic opera snags one of the most endearing characters in literature in a backfiring scheme to get rich. The production will be directed by the internationally-acclaimed Stephen Lawless, who Opera Magazinecalls "a genius," and conducted by Joseph Rescigno. Rescigno returns to Virginia Opera after conducting Wagner's Die Walküre in 2011 where he was praised by The Virginian-Pilot for his "complete command" of the podium.
Baritone Stephen Powell makes his company and role debut as the charming, yet devious title character with a voice Opera Now describes as "gleaming." Also in their debuts, Weston Hurt will resume the role of Ford after his performances at Seattle Opera, where The Seattle Times hailed: "Hurt imbued the jealous husband [Ford] with just the right touch of fury...[he] has a baritone as mellifluous as the best tenors," and Elizabeth Caballero will perform as Alice, a wealthy object of Falstaff's affection. Ms. Caballero's voice was recently praised by the Kansas City Star as being "delicate yet powerful, passionate yet controlled."
The late-Verdi gem is the third installment of Virginia Opera's "First of Firsts" series-an initiative designed to present brand-new productions of operas never before seen by Virginia Opera audiences. Falstaffwill be sung in Italian with English supertitles.
The Magic Flute - Mozart
The fantastical world of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flutecomes alive as Virginia Opera's second production of the 2013-14 Season, opening Nov. 8, 2013 at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House. A timeless fairy tale that explores the limits of loyalty and love, The Magic Flute will see many audience-favorite artists return to Virginia Opera in this fresh production conceived by innovative director Michael Shell and conducted by former Music Director of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Mark Russell Smith.
Matthew Plenk makes a triumphant return as the noble Prince Tamino, after his popular portrayal of The Mikado's Nanki-Poo (2012). SopranoNadine Sierra makes her company debut as Pamina, the other half of this determined, lovesick couple. The quirky Papageno will be played by David Pershall, a former Virginia Opera Emerging Artist who recently wowed critics and audiences as Zurga in The Pearl Fishers. "As Zurga...baritone David Pershall radiated vocal confidence and decisiveness... his instrument was clear and strong," said The Washington Times.
In another highly anticipated return, Soprano Heather Buck will play the visually and audibly compelling Queen of the Night, a familiar role to Ms. Buck, whose performances with the English National Opera had London'sThe Times praising, "Heather Buck is quite a find as the Queen of Night: statuesque of bearing, surefire in the vocal stratosphere, and a powerfully ambiguous presence." Ms. Buck made her company debut as La Princesse in its 2012 production of Orphée and, most recently, performed as the doomed priestess Leila to great acclaim in the current season's production of The Pearl Fishers. The Magic Flute will be sung in English with English supertitles.
Ariadne auf Naxos - R. Strauss
February 2014 will see Richard Strauss' uproarious Ariadne auf Naxos as Virginia Opera's third opera of the 2013-14 Season. Last performed at Virginia Opera in 1990, it will open Feb. 7, 2014 at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House. Vienna's most affluent aristocrat creates a head-on collision between low comedy and high art when he asks a burlesque troupe to perform alongside an opera company. Tragic opera turns romantic comedy set against the backdrop of Strauss' passionate, soaring music, led by up-and-coming conductor Garrett Keast, who Symphony Magazinenamed "a conductor to watch.
Soprano Christina Pier will make her Virginia Opera mainstage debut as the opera company's Diva, and later the lovelorn Ariadne. Ms. Pier has been hailed by Opera News for her "big, gleaming soprano and impressive coloratura...." After making her recent debut at The Metropolitan Opera,Audrey Luna will take the stage as the saucy Zerbinetta-the star of the burlesque troupe and Ariadne's opposite in music and life-a role familiar to Ms. Luna. The New York Times said this of her performance with Tanglewood Opera Festival: "... Audrey Luna, in that soubrette role, very nearly did steal the evening. Her vocal athleticism was of a very different sort...nimble and daringly acrobatic. She delivered some of her most altitudinous and treacherous coloratura lying flat on her back." Ariadne auf Naxos will be sung in German with English supertitles.