The Latest News at Opera Theatre Share


Opera Theatre Announces Casting for 2012 Spring Festival Season


 U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND highlights May 19-June 24 season

 With the return of many St. Louis favorites and debuts by international stars, Opera Theatre’s 2012 casts are filled with fresh and exciting talent.  The season begins with rising sensation Kendall Gladen in Bizet’s Carmen and continues with 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner Rachel Willis-Sørensen making her company debut as Fiordiligi and famed baritone James Maddalena returning as Alfonso in Così fan tutte.  Two-time Grammy nominee Rod Gilfry and Tony Award-winner Karen Ziemba make OTSL debuts as the conniving pair at the center of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  The 2012 season comes to a close with the return of Ashley Emerson as Alice in the American premiere of Alice in Wonderland, the captivating new opera by Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang.  In addition to 27 principal artists, 34 singers were chosen for the 2012 Gerdine Young Artist program, Opera Theatre’s renowned program for developing young artists. 

*Debut artist

 CARMEN (1875)

Georges Bizet, Henri Meilhac, and Ludovic Halévy

Nine performances: May 19, 23, 25, 31, June 8, 10, 13 (m), 16,  23 (m)

Conductor: Carlos Izcaray*
Stage Director: Stephen Barlow*
Costume and Set Designer: Paul Edwards*
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind

Carmen – Kendall Gladen • Don José – Adam Diegel* •
Escamillo – Aleksey Bogdanov • Micaëla – Corinne Winters • Zuniga – Bradley Smoak •Frasquita – Jennifer Caraluzzi* •
Mercedes – Shirin Eskandani* • Remendado – Michael Kuhn* • Dancairo – Thomas Gunther* • Morales – Hernan Berisso*

 After over a century, Carmen remains perhaps the world’s most popular opera. This all-new production evokes a sand-swept, lusty Seville.  Carmen will be the first starring role at Opera Theatre for St. Louis’s own Kendall Gladen, whose blazing talent first emerged in Opera Theatre’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training program when she was only 16 years old.  Adam Diegel*, currently appearing as Froh in the Metropolitan Opera’s new staging of Das Rheingold, debuts as Don José.  Three former Gerdine Young Artists (GYAs) return to the stage in principal roles – Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Prize-winner Corinne Winters as Micaëla, Aleksey Bogdanov as the bullfighter Escamillo, and Bradley Smoak as Zuniga.  Stephen Barlow* and Carlos Izcaray* make St. Louis debuts as director and conductor.

 This production is underwritten in part with a leadership gift from Centene Corporation.



Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler

Eight performances: May 26, 30, June 1, 7, 12 (m), 16 (m), 20, 24

Conductor: Stephen Lord
Stage Director: Ron Daniels*
Set Designer: Riccardo Hernandez*
Costume Designer: Emily Rebholz*
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind

 Sweeney Todd – Rod Gilfry* • Mrs. Lovett – Karen Ziemba* •
Anthony Hope – Nathaniel Hackmann* • Johanna – Deanna Breiwick* •
Tobias Ragg – Kyle Erdos-Knapp* • Judge Turpin – Timothy Nolen•
Beggar Woman – Susanne Mentzer • Beadle – Scott Ramsay* • Pirelli – Anthony Webb*

 Hailed in theaters and opera houses around the globe, this masterpiece of contemporary American music theater will be led by the powerhouse team of OTSL Music Director Stephen Lord and director Ron Daniels*.  Rod Gilfry*, whose opera credits include numerous roles at the Metropolitan Opera, makes his OTSL debut as Sweeney Todd.  Gilfry last performed the role in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtèlet, drawing praise from The New York Times: “Gilfry sings magnificently as Todd and invests the character with an almost wholesome candor, that, through it all, keeps one mindful of the barber’s vulnerability.”  (Ron Raines, previously announced in the role, has withdrawn due to a scheduling conflict with the opening of the Broadway production of Follies in Los Angeles.)  Karen Ziemba*, who received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Contact at Lincoln Center Theatre, debuts as his partner-in-crime, the batty Mrs. Lovett.  Acclaimed opera stars Susanne Mentzer (Beggar Woman) and Timothy Nolen (Judge Turpin) both make highly-anticipated returns to the OTSL stage. The cast also includes debuts by Nathaniel Hackmann* (Anthony Hope), Deanna Brewick* (Johanna), Kyle Erdos-Knapp* (Tobias Ragg), Scott Ramsay* (Beadle), and Anthony Webb* (Pirelli).



Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte

Six performances: June 3, 6, 9, 14, 20 (m), 22

 Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni
Stage Director: Michael Shell
Set and Costume Designer: James Schuette
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind

Fiordiligi – Rachel Willis-Sørensen* • Dorabella – Kathryn Leemhuis • Ferrando – David Portillo  
Guglielmo – Liam Bonner • Despina – Jennifer Aylmer • Alfonso – James Maddalena

 This shimmering romantic comedy features Mozart’s most unabashedly beautiful score and is the finale to OTSL’s cycle of Mozart and Da Ponte’s great operas.  Rachel Willis-Sørensen* and former Gerdine Young Artist Kathryn Leemhuis (Zerlina in 2011’s Don Giovanni) match wits with Liam Bonner (Pelléas in OTSL’s 2011 season) and David Portillo (Don Ottavio in 2011’s Don Giovanni), as Cosìs star-crossed lovers.  Jennifer Aylmer is the cunning maid Despina and James Maddalena is Alfonso.  Michael Shell directs and Canada’s Jean-Marie Zeitouni conducts.  “His dynamically nuanced… approach to the score [was] filled… with the kind of vitality that transcends centuries of cultural change,” said The Toronto Star.

 Opera Theatre’s 3-year Mozart/Da Ponte cycle is made possible with leadership support from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee, and The Commerce Trust Company.



American Premiere 


Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang

Six performances: June 13, 15, 17, 19 (m), 21, 23


Conductor: Michael Christie
Stage Director: James Robinson
Set Designer: Allen Moyer
Costume Designer: James Schuette
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind

Alice – Ashley Emerson • Cheshire Cat – Tracy Dahl • Mad Hatter/Duck – Aubrey Allicock •
White Rabbit– David Trudgen • Queen of Hearts – Julie Makerov* •
Mouse/ Dormouse/Pat/Invisible Man – Matthew DiBattista •King of Hearts – Bradley Smoak •
Caterpillar/ Mock Turtle (dancer) – Seán Curran •Caterpillar (bass clarinet) – James Meyer*

 Unsuk Chin’s dazzling musical invention finds captivating new voices for familiar friends in an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole.  Ashley Emerson, who received glowing reviews for her 2011 performance as Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment, stars as Alice. “Armed with a bright smile… and a gift for physical comedy, Ms. Emerson was captivating,” wrote The New York Times.  The production features former Gerdine Young Artist Aubrey Allicock as the Mad Hatter, Matthew DiBattista as the Dormouse (both featured in 2011’s The Death of Klinghoffer), Tracy Dahl as the Cheshire Cat, and David Trudgen as the White Rabbit (both featured in 2010’s The Golden Ticket). Making a much anticipated debut as the Queen of Hearts is Julie Makerov*, with Bradley Smoak (2011’s Masetto in Don Giovanni) as the King of Hearts.  Choreographer Seán Curran dances the role of the Caterpillar.

 Made possible with a leadership gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with generous support from The Saigh Foundation and the Fred M. Saigh Endowment at Opera Theatre.  Major production support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whitaker Foundation, and Phoebe Dent Weil.

 Subscriptions to all four operas may currently be purchased in person at the Opera Theatre box office or by phone at (314) 961-0644 or online at  Tickets in a subscription package range from $37.50 to $93.50, a savings of at least 25% off the cost of single tickets.


About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis SymphonyAs of 2012, Opera Theatre will have presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is one of the highest percentages of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.  OTSL’s general director is Timothy O’Leary; Stephen Lord is music director and James Robinson is artistic director.


Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. 

 Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.