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  • Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    “Champion,” a co-commission with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis, will receive world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013

    Oct. 29, 2012 – Continuing their individual traditions of commissioning music that showcases the talents of the world’s best contemporary composers, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis have joined forces in the development of a new opera, featuring a powerhouse team of writers and performers.  With music by Terence Blanchard and libretto by Michael Cristofer, Champion blends the uniquely American tradition of jazz with the dramatic power of opera.  Based on the story of prizefighter Emile Griffith, the opera will star Denyce Graves, Arthur Woodley, Robert Orth, Aubrey Allicock, and Meredith Arwady.  Directed by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson and conducted by George Manahan, Champion will receive its world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013 as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season.

    The Story of Champion

    Emile Griffith was a three-time world welterweight champion and twice a world middleweight champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s.  However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the title from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also his greatest personal tragedy.  The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover.  Paret would die ten days later.  For Griffith, who had never wanted to be a boxer, the impact of the fight was devastating, and his career soon went downhill.

    Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret had mocked Griffith with a derogatory term for homosexual.  Years later, Griffith’s sexuality was revealed after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.”  Much later in his life, beginning to suffer from dementia, Griffith met the son of his opponent, Benny Jr., who was two years old at the time of the match, and who forgave the aging champion.  In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a contemporary tragic hero – a story of strength, courage, rage, regret, and compassion.

    The Cast of Champion

    Champion marks the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis debut for one of the world’s most acclaimed mezzo-sopranos, Denyce Graves, who originated the title role in Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner.  Ms. Graves sings the role of Emelda, Griffith’s mother. The cast is led by Arthur Woodley, distinguished for his portrayal of the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess world-wide, in the central role of Emile Griffith.  Aubrey Allicock returns to Opera Theatre to play Young Emile after performances as Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer in 2011 and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland in 2012.  Robert Orth, who has one of this country’s strongest pedigrees for originating roles in new American operas, plays trainer Howie Albert.  2012 Grammy Award-winner Meredith Arwady plays bar owner Kathy Hagen.  Rounding out the principal roles are Victor Ryan Robertson, doubling as Benny ‘The Kid’ Paret and Benny Jr. and Brian Arreola as Luis Rodrigo Griffith, Emile’s adopted son.

    The Creative Team for Champion

    Renowned for his work as a composer of hauntingly beautiful jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film, and stage, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards, including the 2007 Large Ensemble Grammy for A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina). Most recently for film, he wrote the score to Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, which chronicled the story of the Tuskegee pilots and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr.  His music was also recently represented on Broadway with the score to Emily Mann’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Blair Underwood.  Champion is Mr. Blanchard’s first opera.  “My father loved opera,” Mr. Blanchard says, “He was a baritone who studied opera, so it was impossible not to feel an emotional connection to him in writing Champion.  I was drawn to tell Emile’s story through music from the moment I first heard of his incredible journey.  I knew there was no other way to tell this story but through the unique power of opera.”

    For playwright, filmmaker, and actor Michael Cristofer, the Champion libretto is also a first.  In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for The Shadow Box.  Mr. Cristofer’s other plays include Breaking Up, Black Angel, The Lady and the Clarinet which starred Stockard Channing, and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason, which received the American Theater Critics Award for Best Play in 1997.  His work on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Falling in Love, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and HBO’s Gia has earned him a Golden Globe, a Writer’s Guild Award, two Emmy nominations, and a best director award from the Director’s Guild of America.  Currently, he appears on the NBC drama Smash. “Champion is the story of a man struggling to make peace with himself and to find his place in the world… as a fighter and a gay man,” Mr. Cristofer says.  “It’s the story of courage in the face of sexual oppression, of love in the face of hate, of grace in the face of physical and mental decline.  For me, Emile’s story not only asks the question of what it means to be a man. It asks what it means to be a human being.”

    Director James Robinson is one of America’s most sought-after opera directors, winning wide acclaim for productions that range from standard opera repertory to world premieres and rarely performed works.  Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Mr. Robinson has staged productions for major opera companies, including New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, and Seattle Opera.

    Conductor George Manahan continues an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary.  Currently Director of Orchestral Studies at the Manhattan School of Music and Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra, Mr. Manahan served as Music Director of the New York City Opera for fourteen seasons.  He has conducted for the New Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Opera National de Paris, and the Teatro de Communale de Bologna, among others.  In 2011, he was recognized by ASCAP for his “career-long advocacy of American composers and the music of our time.”

    Commissioning Partner and Underwriting

    Co-commissioning partner Jazz St. Louis has been an integral part of the creation and development of this opera.  Terence Blanchard has performed with Jazz St. Louis on many occasions, and through that relationship, Jazz St. Louis Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford introduced Blanchard to Opera Theatre.  “Terence Blanchard is among the best jazz composers and musicians living today. We believe that this new opera will be remembered as a major work in the decades to come, both for American jazz and for American opera, as it bridges the two audiences and art forms in a fresh and exciting way.” says Mr. Bradford.

    The commissioning and development of Champion was made possible with a leadership gift from the Whitaker Foundation, and with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.  The production of Champion is made possible with a leadership gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and generous support from the Whitaker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Phoebe Dent WeilNew Voices for Opera, the audience development programming surrounding the project, is made possible by OPERA America’s Opera Fund and PNC Arts Alive.

    Performance Schedule

    Champion will be presented as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season (May 25 – June 30, 2013), which also includes Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Smetana’s The KissChampion will receive six performances, on June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 30, 2013.  Tickets to Champion are now available as part of a subscription to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Single tickets will go on sale February, 2013.

     

    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage 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, and Lawrence Brownlee.  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 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.

     

    About Jazz St. Louis

     

    Jazz St. Louis is on an incredible journey to advance the uniquely American art of jazz in St. Louis through live performance, education, and outreach. Each year, this non-profit organization presents over 270 performances on its internationally-acclaimed Jazz at the Bistro concert series. Artists appearing onstage at the Bistro regularly participate in one of Jazz St. Louis’s several education and outreach offerings. This unique, successful model sets the organization apart as an institution that presents jazz, educates future audiences, and nurtures budding musicians. Over 10,000 students are impacted each year by the organization’s work – all of which is offered free of cost to area schools and students. In this three-pronged approach, Jazz St. Louis maintains a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and artistic quality unmatched in its field.

     

    Jazz St. Louis gratefully acknowledges Wells Fargo Advisors as the presenting sponsor of the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 Jazz at the Bistro Series.

     

    Jazz St. Louis receives significant support from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Arts Alive, the Regional Arts Commission, the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, and the Whitaker Foundation.

     

    

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  • Opera Theatre Achieves Marked Growth in Attendance and Sales During 2012 Season

    St. Louis, MO, June 27, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis general director Timothy O’Leary announced that the company’s 37th season yielded increased sales and continued growth in the size and diversity of its audience, a cornerstone of the company’s strategic plan adopted in 2009. 

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  • Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    “Champion,” a co-commission with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis, will receive world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013

    St. Louis, MO, May 16, 2012 – Continuing their individual traditions of commissioning music that showcases the talents of the world’s best contemporary composers, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis have joined forces in the development of a new opera, featuring a powerhouse team of writers and performers. With music by Terence Blanchard and libretto by Michael Cristofer, Champion blends the uniquely American tradition of jazz with the dramatic power of opera. Based on the story of prizefighter Emile Griffith, the opera will star Denyce Graves, Aubrey Allicock, Arthur Woodley, and Robert Orth. Directed by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson, Champion will receive its world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013 as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season.

    The Story of Champion

    Emile Griffith was a three-time World Welterweight Champion and twice a World Middleweight Champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s. However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the Welterweight Championship from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also one of his greatest personal tragedies. The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover. Paret would die ten days later.

    Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret mocked Griffith repeatedly with a derogatory term for homosexual. Years later, Griffith’s sexuality as a gay man was revealed to the public after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.” In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a great contemporary tragic hero – a man of strength and courage consumed ultimately by rage, regret, and the terrible consequences of his actions.

    The Cast of Champion

    Champion marks the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis debut for Denyce Graves, who originated the title role in Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner. Graves sings the role of Emelda, Griffiths’ mother. The cast is led by Aubrey Allicock, returning to Opera Theatre to play Young Emile after performances as Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer in 2011 and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland in 2012. Arthur Woodley, distinguished for his portrayal of the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess world-wide, plays Old Emile. Robert Orth, who has one of country’s strongest pedigrees for originating roles in new American operas, plays Howie. Further casting will be announced in 2013.

    The Creative Team for Champion

    Renowned for his work as a composer of hauntingly beautiful jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film, and stage, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards, including the 2007 Large Ensemble Grammy for A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina). Most recently for film, he wrote the score to Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, which chronicled the story of the Tuskegee pilots and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr. His music is currently represented on Broadway with the score to Emily Mann’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which stars Blair Underwood. Champion is Blanchard’s first opera. “My father loved opera,” Blanchard says, “He was a baritone who studied opera, so it was impossible not to feel an emotional connection to him in writing Champion. I was drawn to tell Emile’s story through music from the moment I first heard of his incredible journey. I knew there was no other way to tell this story but through the unique power of opera.”

    For playwright, filmmaker, and actor Michael Cristofer, the Champion libretto is also a first. In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for The Shadow Box. Cristofer’s other plays include Breaking Up, Black Angel, The Lady and the Clarinet which starred Stockard Channing, and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason, which received the American Theater Critics Award for Best Play in 1997. His work on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Falling in Love, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and HBO’s Gia has earned him a Golden Globe, a Writer’s Guild Award, two Emmy nominations, and a best director award from the Director’s Guild of America. Currently, he appears on the NBC drama Smash. “Champion is the story of a man struggling to make peace with himself and to find his place in the world… as a fighter and a gay man,” Cristofer says.  “It’s the story of courage in the face of sexual oppression, of love in the face of hate, of grace in the face of physical and mental decline. For me, Emile’s story not only asks the question of what it means to be a man. It asks what it means to be a human being.” 

    Director James Robinson is one of America’s most sought-after opera directors, winning wide acclaim for productions that range from standard opera repertory to world premieres and rarely performed works. Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Robinson has staged productions for major opera companies, including New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, and Seattle Opera.

    Commissioning Partner and Underwriting

    Co-commissioning partner Jazz St. Louis has been an integral part of the creation and development of this opera. Terence Blanchard has performed with Jazz St. Louis on many occasions, and through that relationship, Jazz St. Louis Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford introduced Blanchard to Opera Theatre. “Terence Blanchard is among the best jazz composers and musicians living today. We believe that this new opera will be remembered as a major work in the decades to come, both for American jazz and for American opera, as it bridges the two audiences and art forms in a fresh and exciting way.” says Bradford.

    The commissioning and development of Champion was made possible with a leadership gift from the Whitaker Foundation and with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America.  Support for the production of Champion is generously provided by the Whitaker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Phoebe Dent Weil.  New Voices for Opera, the audience development programming surrounding the project, is made possible by OPERA America and PNC Arts Alive.

    Performance Schedule

    Champion will be presented as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season (May 25 – June 30, 2013), which also includes Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Smetana’s The Kiss. Champion will receive six performances, on June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 30, 2013. Tickets to Champion are now available as part of a subscription to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Single tickets will go on sale February, 2013.

     

    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 Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage 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.            

     

    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.

     

    About Jazz St. Louis

    Jazz St. Louis is on an incredible journey to advance the uniquely American art of jazz in St. Louis through live performance, education, and outreach. Each year, this non-profit organization presents over 270 performances on its internationally-acclaimed Jazz at the Bistro concert series. Artists appearing onstage at the Bistro regularly participate in one of Jazz St. Louis’s several education and outreach offerings. This unique, successful model sets the organization apart as an institution that presents jazz, educates future audiences, and nurtures budding musicians. Over 10,000 students are impacted each year by the organization’s work—all of which is offered free of cost to area schools and students. In this three-pronged approach, Jazz St. Louis maintains a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and artistic quality unmatched in its field.

     

    Jazz St. Louis gratefully acknowledges Wells Fargo Advisors as the presenting sponsor of the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 Jazz at the Bistro Series.

     

    Jazz St. Louis receives significant support from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Arts Alive, the Regional Arts Commission, the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, and the Whitaker Foundation.

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  • Opera Theatre Responds to High Ticket Demand for 2012 Season, with Extra Carmen Performance Added June 19 at 8 p.m.

    Opera Theatre Responds to High Ticket Demand for 2012 Season, with Extra Carmen Performance Added June 19 at 8 p.m.

    Growth in subscription base and strong single ticket presale prompt added performance, bucking national sales trends

    ST. LOUIS – Less than two weeks before the start of the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season, Opera Theatre announces the addition of a new Carmen performance, to be offered Tuesday, June 19 at 8 p.m. The performance will help Opera Theatre meet strong demand for center orchestra seating during the run of Carmen. Currently, less than 4% of center orchestra seating and barely 1% of tickets in the $25 seating section remain available in the previously scheduled 9 performances of the opera. This is the first time in 8 years that Opera Theatre has added a performance to its festival calendar after tickets have gone on sale.

    “I’m thrilled that popular demand for Carmen has necessitated this additional performance,” says Opera Theatre General Director Timothy O’Leary. “Not only is Carmen the most popular opera in the history of the world, but this production in St. Louis is special because of its phenomenal cast, especially our home-grown international opera star Kendall Gladen in the title role.  Watching her and the rest of the cast in rehearsals, I am certain that once the opera opens, tickets will become scarcer still.”

    The added performance of Carmen is one reflection of the high demand for Opera Theatre tickets in 2012. Other early sales highlights of the 2012 Season include:

    • Season Subscriptions at this early date are up 2% over 2011’s end-of-season final numbers, both by total number of households and by total revenue. This reverses a multi-year trend of declining subscription volume for Opera Theatre, which has been consistent with a national decade-long trend subscription decline in the performing arts. The company will welcome its largest number of new or lapsed subscribers since the economic downturn in 2008, up 8% from 2011, while renewing 86% of its 2011 subscription base.
    • Young Friends Events are already 33% ahead in sales of 2011’s end-of-season final numbers. Young Friends Nights for Carmen and Sweeney Todd are already sold out. Tickets remain available for the Così fan tutte Young Friends Night on June 9, as well as a newly added Young Friends reception at Spotlight on Opera on May 14.
    • Illuminating Opera, a four-week April lecture series, exceeded total attendance by 31% and subscription volume by 47% over 2011. Normally only offered one morning per week, Illuminating Opera added an additional weekly Saturday series to meet demand.
    • Spotlight on Opera, a four-week panel discussion series which began on Monday, April 30, continues its growth in subscriptions – up 9% over 2011 and up 14% since 2010. Two more Spotlight events continue on May 14 and May 21.
    • Opera Theatre’s Spring Gala, held on Saturday, May 5, raised a record $727,000 for the company’s annual fund and attracted nearly 450 guests. The event was chaired by Noémi Neidorff, with honorary chair Donna Wilkinson and co-chair Kara O’Leary.

    Carmen opens the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season on Saturday, May 19th. Before the 8pm performance that evening, Opera Theatre offers a complimentary wine tasting to all opening night guests from 6:30 – 7:30pm under the tent in the Opera Theatre gardens. Carmen performances continue on May 23 at 8 p.m., May 25 at 8 p.m., May 31 at 8 p.m., June 8 at 8 p.m., June 10 at 7 p.m., June 13 at 1 p.m., June 16 at 8 p.m., June 19 at 8 p.m., and June 23 at 1 p.m. The season also includes Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (opening Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m.), Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (opening Sunday, June 3 at 7 p.m.), and the much-anticipated American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland (opening Wednesday, June 13 at 8 p.m.) Tickets for all performances are available at ExperienceOpera.org or (314) 961-0644.

    About Opera Theatre

    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 Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage 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.           

    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.

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  • Wells Fargo Advisors Makes Lead Gift to Sponsor Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's 2012 Season

    Wells Fargo Advisors Makes Lead Gift to Sponsor Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2012 Season
    The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season Will Open May 19

     St. Louis, MO, April 11, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is pleased to announce that Wells Fargo Advisors has given a leadership gift of $150,000 to sponsor the 2012 Festival Season.  Now in its third year, the sponsorship extends the company’s role as both the presenting sponsor of the spring festival season as well as a presenting sponsor of the annual spring gala.

    “Wells Fargo Advisors is committed to enriching the civic and cultural fabric of the St. Louis community and our support for Opera Theatre is an important part of that effort,” said Danny Ludeman, president and CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors.

    Throughout this time, Opera Theatre’s relationship with Wells Fargo Advisors has grown beyond the sponsorship and into the community. General Director Timothy O’Leary, said “We are thrilled and grateful about this ongoing partnership with Wells Fargo Advisors.  Not only do they help us bring world-class productions to the stage, but they also strengthen our community outreach and education programs, such as our recent joint event with the St. Louis Public School District featuring St. Louis’s own internationally-celebrated mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladen.”  In all, Opera Theatre’s education programs reach 11,000 school children in 26 school districts throughout the metropolitan area.

    The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season at Opera Theatre opens on May 19 with rising sensation Kendall Gladen in Bizet’s Carmen and continues with Mozart’s sparkling comedy Così fan tutte and the company’s second Sondheim, his 1979 masterpiece Sweeney Todd. The season concludes with the much-anticipated American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland.   Full ticket prices begin at just $25, with special pricing available for as little as $15 for students and active members of the military.  For more information, visit www.ExperienceOpera.org.

    About Wells Fargo Advisors

     With $1.1 trillion in client assets as of December 31, 2011, Wells Fargo’s brokerage businesses are comprised of 15,263 full-service financial advisors and 3,548 licensed bankers.  This vast network of advisors, one of the nation’s largest, serves clients through offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by two separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company: Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (members SIPC).  Statistics include other broker-dealers of Wells Fargo & Company.   www.wellsfargoadvisors.com

     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 Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage 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.            

     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.

     

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  • Registration Open for Summer Camps at Opera Theatre

    Four weeks of programs for students grades 4-12 begin May 29

     St. Louis, MO, March 28, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has opened registration for its annual week-long summer camps – Opera Camp for students grades 4 – 8 and Spring Training, a vocal camp for high school singers. Both programs take place during the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season and include tickets for students to see a live performance of one of Opera Theatre’s internationally acclaimed productions. Each week of camp includes five full days of fun and music. Registration is $160 per week.

    Opera Camp

    Grades 4-8
    June 4-8, 2012 at City Academy in St. Louis
    June 18-22, 2012 at Edgar Road Elementary School in Webster Groves
    8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    In these week-long camps offered in two St. Louis-area locations, students grades 4-8 participate in all the things that go into Opera Theatre’s productions - including singing, dancing, writing words and music, making instruments, and learning about costumes and makeup, lighting and set design. Campers will also tour backstage, work with Opera Theatre professionals and leading music educators, and see a performance of the much-anticipated American premiere of Alice in Wonderland, by renowned Korean composer Unsuk Chin and Tony-award winner David Henry Hwang.

    Opera Camp is made possible by lead corporate sponsor Edward Jones and with generous support from Fox Performing Arts Foundation.

    Spring Training Vocal Camp

    Grades 9-12
    May 29-June 1, 2012
    June 4-8, 2012
    Community Music School on the campus of Webster University
    9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

     Students in these week-long camps will receive daily private voice lessons, vocal coaching, and classes in movement, acting, dance, and Alexander Technique. They also gain practical experience at afternoon mini-recitals, and attend an opera scene rehearsal and performance with Opera Theatre singers, a live performance of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd or Bizet’s Carmen, and classes in opera set design and makeup. Students are taught by faculty, including Jolly Stewart, Retired Director of Opera Programs at Washington University and Principal Stage Director at Union Avenue Opera, as well as staff members of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, Webster University, and SIU-Edwardsville.

    Spring Training is underwritten by Monsanto Fund and is an extension of Opera Theatre’s nationally award-winning Monsanto Artists-in-Training program.

     Registration for both camps is limited and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, contact Dan Mayo, Opera Theatre Education Assistant at (314) 963-4251 or 251@opera-stl.org.

     

    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 Symphony.  As of 2011, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 22 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage 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.            

    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.

     

     

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  • Opera Theatre Announces Casting for 2012 Spring Festival Season

    OPERA THEATRE 2012 SPRING FESTIVAL SEASON OPENS SATURDAY, MAY 19

     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. 

     THE 2012 REPERTORY
    *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.

     

    SWEENEY TODD (1979)

    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).

     

    COSÌ FAN TUTTE (1790)

    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.

     

    ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2007)

    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 ExperienceOpera.org.  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.

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  • Emerson Gift Establishes Technology and Production Training Center

     St. Louis, MO — Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) announces a lead gift of $350,000 from Emerson to establish the Emerson Technology & Production Training Center at the Sally S. Levy Opera Center.  The center will include a state-of-the-art digital media lab enabling students, interns, and leading professionals to master new technologies in video and lighting design, video projection, and scenic automation.  The center will also incorporate an adjacent rehearsal hall, allowing production artists to instantly transfer technology applications to a rehearsal setting.  

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  • Young Opera Theatre Stars Win Top International Prizes

    barbera-for-webSt. Louis, MO — Tenor René Barbera – star of Opera Theatre’s 2011 production of The Daughter of the Regiment ­­– won three first place prizes on Sunday, July 24 at the 2011 Operalia Competition in Moscow.  Operalia is an international contest founded by tenor Placido Domingo to promote the best young talent in the opera world.

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  • OTSL Season Achieves Widespread Acclaim and Unprecedented Level of New Audiences

    St. Louis, MO — Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) closes its 2011 Wells Fargo Advisors Festival Season with exceptional national and international acclaim, as well as an unprecedented level of new audiences discovering the company’s work – continuing to enhance the profile of the company and the classical music community in St. Louis among local and global audiences.

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