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Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announces Repertory for 40th Anniversary Spring Season in 2015

The season opens with The Barber of Seville, conducted by St. Louisan Ryan McAdams, and includes the American premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart and new productions of the tragic saga Emmeline by Tobias Picker and Puccini’s classic La rondine.
 
St. Louis, MO, May 20, 2014 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis celebrates its 40th anniversary season in 2015, with high comedy, romance, heartbreak, adventure, and powerful tragedy. General director Timothy O’Leary today announced the repertory for the 2015 season, which includes Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Puccini’s La rondine, the American premiere of Handel’s Richard the Lionheart, and a new production of Tobias Picker’s saga Emmeline, as well as a new addition to the OTSL season: a concert highlighting the talents of the singers in the company’s renowned Gerdine Young Artist Program, accompanied on stage by members of the St. Louis Symphony.
 
Rossini’s sparkling comedy The Barber of Seville opens on May 23, 2015, staged by Michael Shell and conducted by St. Louis native Ryan McAdams, who led OTSL’s highly acclaimed production of The Pirates of Penzance in 2013. Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack returns as Rosina, a young woman locked away by her greedy guardian Bartolo (Dale Travis). Tenor Christopher Tiesi makes his OTSL debut as the love-struck Almaviva, whose plans to rescue Rosina are aided by a wily barber Figaro (Jonathan Beyer, also in his OTSL debut). Jeongcheol Cha is also featured as the music teacher Basilio.
 
The season continues on May 30, 2015 with a new production of Puccini’s romantic opera La rondine, the story of a beautiful Paris courtesan whose attempt to find happiness with a young man from the country is doomed by her secret past.  OTSL’s 2012 Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Prize winner and internationally acclaimed soprano Corinne Winters returns as the heroine Magda, opposite tenor Anthony Kalil, who makes his Opera Theatre debut in the role of Ruggero. Former Gerdine Young Artists Sydney Mancasola and John McVeigh also star as Lisette and Prunier in this new production, conducted by OTSL music director Stephen Lord and staged by Michael Gieleta.
 
Another highlight of the season is the American premiere of the Handel rarity Richard the Lionheart, which opens on June 7, 2015. Internationally acclaimed countertenor Tim Mead plays the heroic king of England, who is shipwrecked on his way to the Third Crusade and must travel in disguise in order to survive. Soprano Susannah Biller (2014’s Adina in The Elixir of Love) returns to portray Richard’s Spanish bride Costanza. The cast will also include Devon Guthrie, Tai Oney, Brandon Cedel, and Adam Lau, making their OTSL debuts. Eagerly anticipated by lovers of Baroque music, this premiere will be conducted by award-winning Handel specialist Christian Curnyn and directed by Lee Blakeley, both of whom will be making their first appearances at Opera Theatre.
 
Opera Theatre will close the season with Tobias Picker’s powerful American saga Emmeline, which mirrors the Greek tragedy of Oedipus, and is inspired by a true story from 19th century rural New England. Opening June 13, 2015, this powerful drama will receive its first full-scale staging since the 1996 world premiere production, continuing OTSL’s tradition of rediscovering important 20th century works. According to Heidi Waleson of The Wall Street Journal, “I saw Tobias Picker’s powerful first opera, ‘Emmeline,’ at its Santa Fe Opera premiere in 1996… Ever since, it has been a measure by which I assess the theatrical impact of other new operas.” Joyce El-Khoury makes her Opera Theatre debut in the title role. John Irvin plays Matthew Gurney, the dashing young man with whom she falls in love. Meredith Arwady returns as Hannah Watkins, with Wayne Tigges debuting as Mr. Maguire. George Manahan returns to conduct this compelling work, which is staged by OTSL artistic director James Robinson.
 
For the anniversary celebration, Opera Theatre introduces a new event in its main stage season: the Gerdine Young Artists Showcase Concert. This one-night-only concert on June 23, 2015 will highlight the extraordinary talents of OTSL’s Gerdine Young Artists, accompanied onstage by the St. Louis Symphony. Audiences will hear tomorrow’s operatic stars perform a range of beloved arias and ensembles from opera and music theater.
 
“It’s a thrill to look forward to Opera Theatre’s 40th season and to know that the traditions on which we were founded – artistic adventurousness and a commitment to discovering and nurturing great talent – are continuing to excite audiences from around the country and throughout the St. Louis region,” said general director Timothy O’Leary. “We are deeply grateful to the Opera Theatre family for making it possible – our artists, audiences, volunteers, and generous friends.”
 
All performances at Opera Theatre are accompanied by the members of the St. Louis Symphony in the orchestra pit and are performed in English, with projected supertitles. Performances are presented at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University. Subscription tickets to the 2015 season will be available for purchase throughout the Wells Fargo Advisors 2014 Festival Season. For the first time, the season will include both a four-opera Saturday matinee series, as well as pre-purchased valet parking. Subscription prices start at $75 for a two-opera Wednesday or Saturday matinee series and $150 for a four-opera evening or matinee series. Subscription prices will go up after September 30, 2014. Single tickets will go on sale in February 2015, and will start at $25.
 
 
About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
 
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a spring festival of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2014, Opera Theatre has presented 24 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be 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,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.
 
Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest operatic artists of the current generation.  Among the artists who had important early opportunities at Opera Theatre are Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, Lawrence Brownlee, Jamie Barton, Corinne Winters, Anthony Dean Griffey, and Christine Goerke.  Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.
 
Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2014 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.
 
Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and 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.

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