Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Announces 2019 Festival Season Repertory
2019 Season, Andrew Jorgensen’s First as General Director, Includes World Premiere of Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemons’ Fire Shut Up in My Bones, and All-New Productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Rigoletto, and The Coronation of Poppea.
St. Louis, MO, May 16, 2018 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has announced the complete schedule for OTSL’s 2019 Festival Season, which will run May 25 – June 30, 2019. The season continues OTSL’s long-standing commitment creating resonant new opera performed by the greatest young artists of this generation. Three all-new productions will be performed in repertory with the previously announced Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which is the company’s 28th world premiere. The newly announced productions are Mozart’s comedy The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi’s masterpiece Rigoletto, and Monteverdi’s bloody political thriller The Coronation of Poppea. The season, which will be Andrew Jorgensen’s first as the company’s General Director, will also include the annual Center Stage concert, highlighting the talents of OTSL’s highly selective young artist programs.
“I couldn’t be more delighted to begin my tenure at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis with such a rich and diverse season of brilliant music making and powerful story telling,” said General Director Designate Andrew Jorgensen. “While these operas span several centuries, they share one common thread: the power and beauty of live music to stir the soul. There is no better place to see these stories come alive than an intimate venue like the Loretto-Hilton Center – and what a talented group of artists we have assembled to create truly transformative experiences! I invite audiences far and wide to discover this season with us. It’s going to be a wonderful journey.”
All operas are accompanied by members of the Grammy Award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and are performed in English, with projected English titles. Details on casting, creative teams, and performance dates can be found in the following pages.
The Marriage of Figaro
May 25, 31, June 6, 8, 12, 16, 19, and 29
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro opens the 2019 season with a new production directed by two-time Tony nominee and Metropolitan Opera veteran Mark Lamos. Christopher Allen returns to OTSL after conducting The Grapes of Wrath and La traviata.
Mozart’s comic masterwork takes place over the course of the day of the wedding of two servants in the house of Count Almaviva, Figaro and Susanna. The Count is determined to seduce Susanna before she ties the knot with Figaro. Susanna, however, has other ideas, and with the help of the Countess and a troublesome pageboy, a plan is set into motion to stop the madness before the day’s end. Filled with moments of hilarity, sincerity, and humanity, The Marriage of Figaro reminds audiences that love will always prevail – and that forgiveness is always within reach.
The roles of Figaro and Susanna will be performed by Aubrey Allicock and Monica Dewey, starts whose careers began at OTSL Young Artists. Mr. Allicock, who is best remembered for his heartbreaking portrayal of Emile Griffith in the world premiere of Champion, returns to OTSL after debuts a such prominent venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and Washington National Opera. Ms. Dewey, who sang as a Gaddes Festival Artist in 2017’s Titus and who returns in 2018 as Alexandra in Regina, will represent the United States in the 2018 Operalia competition in Lisbon.
Baritone Theo Hoffman, last seen as Josef K. in 2017’s The Trial, will sing the jealous Count Almaviva. Soprano Susanna Biller, who has recently originated world-premier roles at the Minnesota Opera and San Francisco Opera, sings his wife, the Countess Rosina.
June 1, 5, 14, 20, 22, 26, and 30
Rigoletto, Verdi’s tale of love and revenge, returns to the OTSL stage for the first time in over a decade. Rigoletto, the court jester, serves up acerbic insults to amuse the court of the Duke of Mantua, while the licentious Duke seduces any woman who catches his eye. The jester begrudgingly serves his master until a curse from one of the Duke’s wronged families leaves Rigoletto uneasy. The final straw comes when the Duke steals Rigoletto’s own daughter Gilda away from him. Determined to seek revenge, Rigoletto sets a plan into action to end the Duke – but instead ends up reaping the hatred he helped sow.
Baritone Roland Wood returns to OTSL for his second Verdi title role after his critically acclaimed appearance in 2016’s Macbeth. Since Macbeth, he has enjoyed international fame, performing at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and Santa Fe Opera. Soprano So Young Park, who dazzled as Zerbinetta in 2016’s Ariadne on Naxos, sings his beloved daughter Gilda, who recently made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and appears frequently at the LA Opera. Tenor Joshua Wheeker makes his leading role debut with OTSL as the Duke after spending a year in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at the LA Opera.
Casablanca-born stage director Bruno Ravella makes his OTSL debut with the production, and OTSL Head of Music Staff and Resident Conductor Roberto Kalb makes his debut conducting the full run of a mainstage production.
The Coronation of Poppea
June 9, 13, 15, 22, 26, and 28
Claudio Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, first performed in 1643, has been thrilling audiences from the beginning of operatic history with its story of political intrigue, blackmail, murder, and divine intervention. Poppea, a social-climbing noblewoman, has won the heart of Nero, the Emperor of Rome, and plans to marry him and become empress. Many obstacles stand in her way, but Poppea will stop at nothing until she takes the throne.
The staying power of this extraordinary early masterpiece is captured brilliantly in director Tim Albery’s new performing edition, which he originally devised in 2014 for Opera North (Leeds, England) based on his own translation. “The result,” wrote The Guardian, “suggests that the piece was a significant prototype for both kinds of opera, musical and soap… all set to music of the most sensuous and exquisite beauty.”
For the OTSL production, Poppea will be conducted by Nicholas Kok in his US debut. The highly sought-after English conductor’s previous appearances include multiple engagements with English National Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Oper Koeln, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, and Radio Sinfonie Orchester Berlin. Mezzo-soprano Emily Fons, who sings the title character Poppea, recently created the role of Ruby in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain and makes her company debut at the Seattle Opera in 2019. Acclaimed young tenor Brenton Ryan as Nero, who was recently seen at the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, and Houston Grand Opera. Metropolitan Opera veteran bass-baritone David Pittsinger sings the doomed Seneca, and internationally renowned soprano Patricia Schuman sings the role of Arnalta, Poppea’s confidant.
Fire Shut Up in My Bones
June 15, 19, 21, 23, 27, and 29
As announced earlier in 2018, Fire Shut Up in My Bones will continue OTSL’s critically acclaimed New Works, Bold Voices series of new American opera, commissioned by OTSL to broaden the operatic canon. Co-commissioned with Jazz St. Louis, this opera-in-jazz by Grammy Award-winning composer Terence Blanchard (Champion, A Tale of God’s Will – A Requiem for Katrina) and screenwriter and librettist Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Black Nativity) is adapted from the memoir of celebrated writer and New York Times columnist Charles Blow.
A powerfully redemptive memory story, Fire Shut Up in My Bones traces the tale of young “Charles-Baby” growing up in the tiny town of Gibsland, Louisiana – where the legacy of his elders is closely felt alongside a near-constant wash of violence. The young Charles’ attachment to his mother – a fiercely driven woman – cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of an older cousin. Years follow of anger and searing self-questioning, until Charles faces a life-changing decision: continue the cycle of violence or chose forgiveness instead.
The cast features debuts of three of prominent American singers. Bass-baritone Davóne Tines sings the role of Charles Blow, having previously originated roles in major world premieres including Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, and has appeared at the Teatro Real de Madrid and Opéra National de Paris, among other prestigious international venues. Soprano Julia Bullock, whose operatic career began in OTSL’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training program, has enjoyed an international career at the English National Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Soprano Karen Slack, whose recent credits include performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington National Opera sings the role of Charles’ mother. OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson directs, and William Long makes his OTSL debut conducting.
June 25, 2019
OTSL’s now-annual Center Stage concert returns for a one-night-only event of extraordinary singing, showcasing the talents of OTSL’s Richard Gaddes Festival Artists and Gerdine Young Artists, one of the most selective young artist programs in the country, accepting 30 to 40 singers annually from among as many as 1200 applicants. Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord will lead members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on stage for this exclusive performance.
Subscriptions to the 2019 Festival Season become available on Saturday, May 19, 2018 and can be purchased by phone or in person throughout OTSL’s 2018 Festival Season. Subscriptions will be available for purchase online in late June. Early bird subscription tickets start at only $40 for a two-opera matinee package or $76 for a four-opera series. Subscription prices increase September 29, 2018. Single tickets will be available for purchase in October 2018, with prices starting at just $25 per ticket. For more information about the 2019 Festival Season, visit ExperienceOpera.org or call the Opera Theatre box office at (314) 961-0644.