Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is pleased to announce the complete casts for its 2016 Festival Season. The season features OTSL’s signature combination of compelling new operas and masterpieces by beloved composers, including Giacomo Puccini’s eternally popular La bohème, Richard Strauss’s moving comedy Ariadne on Naxos, Giuseppe Verdi’s magnificent and murderous Macbeth, and the highly anticipated world premiere of Jack Perla and Rajiv Joseph’s Shalimar the Clown, based on the much-admired novel by Salman Rushdie. The season also includes the second annual Center Stage concert, showcasing the talents of OTSL’s young artists. The company’s 2016 Festival Season begins Saturday, May 21 and continues through Sunday, June 26.
Casting highlights include the return of former OTSL Gerdine Young Artist Hae Ji Chang in her principal role debut as Mimì alongside Cardiff Singer of the World finalist Lauren Michelle as Musetta in La bohème. Significant debuts include Roland Wood in the title role of the company’s first-ever production ofMacbeth, Marjorie Owens and AJ Glueckert as Ariadne and Bacchus inAriadne on Naxos, and Andriana Chuchman (Boonyi Kaul / India Ophuls) and Katharine Goeldner (Peggy Ophuls) in the world premiere of Shalimar the Clown. Returning favorites include Sean Panikkar in the title role in Shalimar the Clown, Gregory Dahl as the American ambassador Max Ophuls, Julie Makerov as Lady Macbeth, and Levi Hernandez as the Music Master inAriadne on Naxos. As always, many returning artists are alumni of Opera Theatre’s young artist programs, including So Young Park (Zerbinetta) and Cecelia Hall (Composer) in Ariadne, Aubrey Allicock (Bulbul Fakh) and Jenni Bank (Firdaus Noman) in Shalimar, and Bradley Smoak (Colline) in La bohème. The season also features 38 members of OTSL’s current young artist programs – including 30 Gerdine Young Artists and 8 Richard Gaddes Festival Artists.
Season conductors include OTSL’s acclaimed Music Director Stephen Lord, as well as debuts by Emanuele Andrizzi, Rory Macdonald, and Jayce Ogren. All four directors for the new season return after recent triumphant productions at OTSL: Artistic Director James Robinson (who last directedEmmeline in 2015), Ron Daniels (who directed Il tabarro and Pagliacci in 2013), Lee Blakeley (who directed the American premiere of Richard the Lionheart in 2015), and Seán Curran (whose critically acclaimed production ofThe Pirates of Penzance was named “Operetta of the Year” by Opera Now in 2013).
All main season productions at Opera Theatre are accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony and are performed in English, with projected supertitles. Concerts and special events, such as Center Stage, feature music sung in its original language. Performances are presented in the Virginia Jackson Browning Theatre of the Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Webster University. Productions are performed in rotating repertory, making it easy for audiences to enjoy all four productions of the festival in a single weekend.
Subscriptions to the 2016 season are currently available, starting at $82 for a two-opera Wednesday or Saturday matinee series and $170 for a four-opera evening or matinee series. Special packages are available for K-12 educators, audiences under 45 years of age, and audiences travelling from out of town. Single tickets go on sale February 27, 2016, with prices starting at $25. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org or call the box office at (314) 961-0644.
Also at a press event yesterday in New York, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis General Director Timothy O’Leary announced details for the continuation of the company’s groundbreaking New Works, Bold Voices series — including the 2018 world premiere of An American Soldier, a full length opera by critically acclaimed composer Huang Ruo and Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. The opera will be the fourth world premiere in the series, which emphasizes the creation of American works, the telling of compelling modern stories, and themes of common humanity in today’s world. The opera originally premiered in a 60-minute version in 2014 as part of Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. It will be expanded into a full-length work for its premiere in St. Louis.
Previously announced world premieres in Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series include 2013’s Champion, 2014’s “27,” and the upcoming world premiere of Shalimar the Clown, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie. An American Soldier tells the story of the tragic death of Chinese-American Army Private Danny Chen, who took his own life while stationed in a guard tower at a base in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Based on the ensuing courts-martial of Chen’s fellow soldiers, An American Soldier addresses issues of patriotism, cultural identity, belonging, and otherness. Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson, who previously collaborated with Huang Ruo on the American premiere of Dr. Sun Yat-sen at The Santa Fe Opera, will direct.
Composer Huang Ruo has been lauded by The New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers” and by The New York Times for his “distinctive style.” His diverse compositional work spans from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance to cross-genre, sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. His opera Paradise Interrupted received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2015. Another performance of the opera is coming up at Lincoln Center Festival in 2016 before going on tour to Asia and Europe. His opera Dr. Sun Yat-sen will receive its Canadian premiere in 2017 at the Vancouver Opera. He was also recently named the composer-in-residence for the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan.
Librettist David Henry Hwang is one of America’s leading playwrights, acclaimed by TIME as “the first important dramatist of American public life since Arthur Miller.” His many plays include M. Butterfly (which earned him his first Tony nomination and award), Golden Child, Yellow Face, Chinglish, and Kung Fu. Named America’s most-produced living opera librettist by Opera News, he has written four works with composer Philip Glass, and collaborated on projects with Osvaldo Golijov, Phil Collins, Elton John, and Unsuk Chin. In 2014, he became the director of Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ M.F.A. program in playwriting.
“We are thrilled to be working with Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang on this project,” said Timothy O’Leary, General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. “As artists, they embody the kind of probing, meaningful work we aim to advance through Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series. It’s an honor to be collaborating with them, and with our friends at the Washington National Opera, who commissioned and premiered the first version of An American Soldier. Through the moving story of Private Danny Chen and his family, this is a work that addresses the very question of what it means to be an American.”
Operas from the New Works, Bold Voices series have already established themselves as significant new additions to the American operatic repertoire, earning strong reviews during their premieres in St. Louis and continuing on to important subsequent productions. Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s Champion receives its West Coast premiere in a co-production with SFJAZZ and Opera Parallel in February 2016. Its East Coast premiere will be announced in March 2016. Similarly, Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek’s “27” opens at Pittsburgh Opera in February 2016 and will make its New York debut in October 2016.
The world premiere of An American Soldier is made possible by theFred M. Saigh Endowment at Opera Theatre and with leadership gifts from the Whitaker Foundation, the Berges Family Foundation, and the Ferring Family Foundation. The opera will receive its world premiere during Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2018 Festival Season, opening June 3, 2018. Details about additional performance dates and casting will be forthcoming. V
Via Press Release