Carmen - Bizet
Rounding out Virginia Opera's mainstage subscription offerings for 2013-14 is Georges Bizet's Carmen, opening Mar. 21, 2014 at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House. The passionate tale of desire and vengeance is the apex of Bizet's career, whose brilliance shines in numerous celebrated arias such as the "Toreador's Song" and the "Habanera."
Opera's most notorious vixen will be played by mezzo-soprano HeatherJohnson in her mainstage company debut. Ms. Johnson was one of four headlining artists at Virginia Opera's Opera in the Park earlier this season, performing a variety of opera's greatest hits, including arias from Carmen. Bass-baritone Ryan Kuster will take the stage as the assertive bullfighter Escamillio, a role he recently performed at San Francisco Opera, where his performance was called "pure bravado." The role of Micaela-the opera's hometown sweetheart-will be performed by Corinne Winters, who recently sang the part at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to several rave reviews, one naming her as the "standout" of the production.
Conductor John DeMain will return to Virginia Opera to lead Bizet's powerful score after his praised debut conducting Aida in 2011. DeMain is currently the Artistic Director of the Madison Opera after having served as the Music Director and Principal Conductor of Houston Grand Opera for eighteen years. Award-winning stage director Tazewell Thompson returns to tackle the opera's sultry world of Seville alongside recent Pearl Fisherscollaborators: Merrily Murray-Walsh (costumes), Donald Eastman (set design) and Robert Wierzel (lighting design). Carmen will be sung in French with English supertitles.
Virginia Opera will offer two Special Engagement presentations alongside the four mainstage operas for the 2013-14 Season. Giacomo Puccini's The Girl of the Golden West will be performed in January 2014 at Virginia Beach's Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, Newport News' Ferguson Center for the Arts and the Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage.The Girl of the Golden West was originally slated to be part of Lyric Opera Virginia's 2012-13 Season, which they chose to no longer produce. Virginia Opera committed to presenting the production as part of a joint agreement to ensure Lyric Opera subscribers would not be left with unredeemable tickets. (See Virginia Opera press release dated Nov. 20, 2012.
The Golden (and Wild) West shines as Minnie, a gun-wielding, saloon-owning firecracker, stands her ground against miners, cowboys and her own heart. Director Lillian Groag-a familiar force to Commonwealth audiences due to her 20-year history with Virginia Opera (beginning with Puccini's Tosca in 1993)-remounts her production of Puccini's "love letter to America" originally from Glimmerglass Opera. "Puccini's evocation of the California Gold Rush captures all the frenetic activity, camaraderie, loneliness and improbability of love in music that anticipates the exotic harmonies of Turandot," says Robin Thompson. The Girl of the Golden West will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.
The second Special Engagement presentation of the 2013-14 Season is Stephen Sondheim's popular Sweeney Todd, which will be performed in May 2014 at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House and the Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage. Director Ron Daniels remounts his equally dark and delightful production from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where The Demon Barber of Fleet Street comes alive in this chilling Tony Award-winning thriller that The Wall Street Journal called "the best of both opera and Broadway worlds." Sweeney Toddis the third installment of Virginia Opera's American Opera Cycle and is presented in collaboration with co-producer, the Virginia Arts Festival. It will be sung in English with English supertitles.
Subscriptions, STUDENT NIGHTS and Performance Schedule
Due to the increased number of productions in its 2013-14 Season, Virginia Opera has condensed its schedule at Norfolk's Harrison Opera House from four to three performances in its Subscription Series. Opening Night for each production has moved from Saturday evenings to Friday evenings, merging its subscribers with those from the former Friday Night series. In addition, the Wednesday Night series has moved to Tuesday evenings. The Sunday series will see no changes.
Subscriptions for the new season in Norfolk and Richmond are available online at www.vaopera.org, in person at performances and by calling Virginia Opera's Box Office at 1.866.OPERA.VA (1.866.673.7282). Subscriptions in Fairfax will be available beginning April 11, 2013 through George Mason University's Center for the Arts, which may be reached at 703.993.ARTS (2787). The two Special Engagement productions are currently available as additions to any 2013-14 Season subscription tickets.
Each performance of Virginia Opera's 2013-14 Season will feature a free pre-performance discussion by Virginia Opera's Dr. Glenn Winters. There will also be Student Night at the Opera performances offered in Norfolk for Virginia Opera's mainstage productions, occurring the Wednesday evening before each Opening Night. There will be additional Student Night performances in Richmond for Carmen and in Virginia Beach for The Girl of the Golden West. For more information on Student Night at the Opera, contact Laura Wigginton at email@example.com or 757.627.9545 ext 3347.