Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announces Full 2018 Season
Newly Announced Casts Include Susan Graham and James Morris in Regina and Jennifer Johnson Cano and Andriana Chuchman in Orfeo and Euridice
Season Includes Directorial Debut of Patricia Racette as well as the World Premiere of Full-Length Version of An American Soldier by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang.
St. Louis, MO, June 5, 2017 – Timothy O’Leary, General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, has announced the complete repertory for the 2018 Festival Season, which will run from May 19 – June 24, 2018. The newly announced 2018 productions are Marc Blitzstein’s American masterpiece Regina led by Susan Graham and James Morris, and Gluck’s mythological romance Orfeo and Euridice starring Jennifer Johnson Cano and Andriana Chuchman. Previously announced 2018 productions include Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s An American Soldier, which will receive its world premiere as a two-act opera, and La traviata, featuring the directorial debut of Patricia Racette.
Regina will mark the return of mezzo-soprano Susan Graham to the OTSL stage in the opera’s title role, as well as the OTSL debut of bass-baritone James Morris in the role of Regina’s brother Ben. Ron Raines returns to OTSL (after debuting in the company’s first season) to sing the role of Regina’s other brother Oscar. Ms. Graham made her professional leading role debut at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in 1988 in Vanessa – the beginning of a career which has brought her to the world’s greatest stages. Hailed by The New York Times as “an artist to treasure,” Ms. Graham will take on one of the most complex and fascinating characters written for the American stage. Blitzstein’s opera is adapted from Lillian Hellman’s ground-breaking play The Little Foxes, which depicts epic struggles of class, gender, greed, and goodness in a family of ruthless Southern capitalists in the aftermath of Reconstruction. The iconic character of Regina has been portrayed in the play and film versions by artists from Bette Davis to Tallulah Bankhead to Elizabeth Taylor. The production will also reunite OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson, who will direct, with Stephen Lord, in his first OTSL conducting engagement as the company’s Music Director Emeritus.
Christoph Willibald Gluck’s revolutionary Orfeo and Euridice will also feature a homecoming of OTSL artists who have gone on to major international careers. In the role of Orfeo, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, who has built a celebrated career at the Metropolitan Opera and venues around the world, returns to Opera Theatre, where she first began as a high school student in OTSL’s Spring Training program, and later as an OTSL Gerdine Young Artist. As the New York Times writes, “Her voice seems to come out of a happy nexus of heart, soul, and brain that lends an authoritative weight to every note.” As Orfeo’s beloved Euridice, soprano Andriana Chuchman returns to OTSL after receiving rave reviews as Boonyi/India in Shalimar the Clown during the 2016 season and going on to performances at such acclaimed companies as the Metropolitan Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. In the role of Amore, Maria Valdes makes her OTSL debut. Gluck’s telling of this ancient myth transforms Orpheus’s descent into the underworld to rescue Eurydice into an eloquent affirmation of the power of love and music to overcome all obstacles. The new production is directed by Ron Daniels and conducted by Pierre Vallet.
As the latest addition to OTSL’s New Works, Bold Voices series, the company presents the world premiere of the full-length version of An American Soldier. Composer Huang Ruo and librettist David Henry Hwang have teamed up to create a candid and moving account of the story of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen, whose tragic death during his deployment in Afghanistan resonates powerfully today. Private Chen will be sung by tenor Andrew Stenson, making his Opera Theatre debut. Wayne Tigges, last seen as Mr. Maguire in 2015’s Emmeline, appears as Sargent Aaron Marcum. OTSL favorite Michael Christie conducts, and Matthew Ozawa makes his first appearance at OTSL as stage director, with OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson collaborating as co-director and dramaturg.
As previously announced, Verdi’s La traviata brings audiences the debut of legendary soprano Patricia Racette as a stage director. This lasting tale of love and sacrifice has moved audiences since its 1853 premiere, and features some of the most famous melodies in all of opera. Ms. Racette’s debut as a stage director follows a gradual expansion of her career, including her increasing role as a sought-after master class artist. Conductor Christopher Allen, who leads The Grapes of Wrath in the 2017 season, returns to the podium to conduct an electrifying young cast. Sydney Mancasola sings Violetta, and Geoffrey Agpalo is her young admirer Alfredo. Baritone Joo Wan Kang makes his Opera Theatre debut as Germont.
For one night during the 2018 Festival Season, on June 19, the annual Center Stage Concert returns for a one-night-only event of extraordinary singing. Featuring the Richard Gaddes Festival and Gerdine Young Artists, this concert features highlights from classic operatic repertoire. Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord will lead members of the St. Louis Symphony for this exclusive performance.
“We could not be more excited about these artists and operas,” said General Director Timothy O’Leary. “Each of these works is a masterpiece of its kind, from the greatness of Gluck to the brilliance and insight of modern masters like Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang. The stories in An American Soldier and Regina speak powerfully to questions of identity that shape our most meaningful conversations today, just as La traviata and Orfeo speak to truths about the human heart that never change. It is a joy and privilege to work with such astonishing artists – both homecomings to OTSL and exciting debuts. I’m so thankful to the whole Opera Theatre family for making this possible.”
OTSL will welcome leaders from across the international opera community during the 2018 season, as the host for Opera America’s annual conference, June 20 - 23, 2018. Over the course of these four days, over 500 industry leaders will travel to St. Louis to discuss innovations, issues, and opportunities in the field of opera today, working to ensure the future health and vitality of the entire industry. This is the second time that Opera Theatre has hosted this event, the largest gathering of opera professionals in North America.
All performances in the 2018 season are accompanied by the St. Louis Symphony and are performed in English with projected supertitles. Performances are presented at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University.
Subscriptions to the 2018 season are available for purchase now. Subscriptions can be purchased by phone or in person during the current 2017 season, and will be available online at the end of June. Early bird subscription tickets start at $79. Prices increase after September 30, 2017. Single tickets will be available for purchase starting in October, 2017, with prices starting at $25 per ticket.
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 its 2017 Festival Season, Opera Theatre has presented 25 world premieres and 27 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 Erie Mills, Jerry Hadley, Christine Brewer, Thomas Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, Patricia Racette, Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelly Kaduce, and Jennifer Johnson Cano. 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 the late Colin Graham.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with audience building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation.
Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony is provided by Jack C. Taylor and the Taylor family.