Monday, May 9, 2016

Your 2016 Summer Opera Fix

The idyllic grounds at the Caramoor Center for the Arts
As the Met just closed its 2015/2016 season with a bang with the explosive Elektra, we’re gearing up to make the most of the extremely busy and varied summer opera scene in NYC (and surroundings). If there is still someone out there ranting that opera is a dying art form, we invite him/her to think again and go enjoy any or all of the below. We know we will!

Ines de Castro, inspiration for Malvina di Scozia
A handful of companies will unveil rarely performed works, which is a guarantee of exciting discoveries. The indie jewel-box Vertical Player Repertory led by Judith Barnes is producing a concert version of Giovanni Pacini’s Malvina di Scozia. A long lost opera that is rumored to be enchantingly beautiful but has not been performed in over 150 years. So, it will be like hearing a completely new opera from 1851, plus it’s based on a notorious Portuguese scandal involving the royally sanctioned murder of a prince’s lover. May 11 and 13, at the Christ and Saint Stephen’s Church 120 W 69th Street. 

Known for its “immersive” approach, Onsite Opera will stage a site-specific production of Marcos Portugal’s The Marriage of Figaro in the wonderfully eclectic venue 632 on Hudson in the West Village. Written for Carnival season of 1800 at the Teatro San Benedetto – just 13 years after Mozart’s Figaro, this will be a rare opportunity to hear Portugal’s vibrant music in a fado-inspired re-orchestration. This show is so hot that tickets seem to be sold out, but there is a waiting list, so there may be hope. June 14-17 at 632 on Hudson
The rooftop terrace at 632 on Hudson
Performances of baroque opera are sadly always a rarity, thank goodness for Jennifer Peterson’s Operamission that will bring us a concert version of Handel’s Rinaldo - Handel’s first London opera, based on Torquato Tasso’s epic chivalric poem La Gerusalemme Liberata. June 14-16 at the Merkin Concert Hall

Contemporary opera, too, is far from being commonly performed. The recently resuscitated NYC Opera will take care of that by staging Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas. Inspired by the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez and the first Spanish-language opera ever commissioned by a major American opera company, will be performed here in an original production of Nashville Opera. June 22 – 26 at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater.

For productions of more familiar repertoire, Brooklyn’s Sunset Park always prolific and solid Regina Opera will stage Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. May 14-15, 21, 22 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Academy of Brooklyn.

If you’re in the mood for more Puccini, Chelsea Opera brings us a production of the one-act opera Suor Angelica, very aptly set in an Upper West Side church. June 16-17 at the Christ and Saint Stephen’s Church 120 W 69th Street

Moving to Verdi, Amore Opera will produce the classic heart-wrenching drama Rigoletto. This is one is particularly promising as it would seem that tenor Paolo Buffagni and soprano Sarah Moulton-Faux will play the Duke and Gilda, respectively. We discovered these two singers in these same roles a couple of years ago with Regina Opera and were literally blown away by their sheer intensity and bravura. May 20-29 at the Sheen Center. 

On a lighter note, the hip and trendy undisputed queen of indie opera companies LoftOpera will stage Rossini’s Comte d’Ory at the circus school The Muse in deep Bushwick. Yes, it’s a trek to get out there but, in classic LoftOpera fashion, singers and musicians will be top notch, the show will feel like the most cool and sexy event in the city, and there will be free beer. So, the schlep out there will be well worth it. June 2, 4,7,9, 11 at The Muse, 350 Moffat Street, Brooklyn. 

For another feel good comedy, the prolific Utopia Opera will stage Massenet’s Cendrillon (Cinderella).  This indie company defines itself as a “talented group of friends (and sometimes strangers) who join together to create spirited representations of operatic works for the masses. We provide entertainment you didn't even know you were missing.” Who would want to miss that? June 3-11 at Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College (East 69th St between Park/Lex). 

The Swing (Fragonard)
Summer opera in NYC brings also a couple of training programs for up and coming young singers and are particularly exciting as they display fresh and eager talent that is always a pleasure to discover. Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance program this year will produce Puccini’s Boheme and Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. July 7-10, at The Kaye Playhouse @ Hunter College, E. 68th st. between Lexington and Park Avenue

The excellent Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble led by fearless maestro Christopher Fecteau will produce a festival titled “Violetta and her sisters”, with performances of Verdi’s Traviata and Massenet’s Manon. Also, a program of  "Scenes from the demimonde", featuring excerpts from Puccini's La Rondine and Leoncavallo's La Boheme and "Chansons de Baudelaire",  featuring song settings of Baudelaire by Debussy, Duparc, Fauré, Vierne, d'Indy, Loeffler, Judith Zaimont and others.  August 13-28 at the Baruch Performing Arts Center 55 Lexington Ave. 

Last but not least, classic summer festivals! As always, we’ll look forward to driving up to Katonah for a picnic on Caramoor’s idyllic grounds and their bel canto program, this year showcasing Rossini’s  Aureliano in Palmira - July 16 at The Caramoor Center for the Arts. 

Nearby, Bard SummerScape will focus on verismo, with the rarely performed Iris by Pietro Mascagni. Debuted in Rome in 1898, ushering in a wave of fin-de-siècle exotic opera, Mascagni’s dreamlike score provides the backdrop for a tragic story of Iris, an innocent young girl tricked into abandoning her elderly blind father and lured to a brothel in Tokyo’s notorious red-light district. Pretty exciting stuff! In addition, this festival will present a series of events ranging from panel discussions, to recitals to movies, all somehow related to Puccini and the opera world after him.  July and August dates at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts
A bit further upstate, Francesca Zambello’s Glimmerglass Opera Festival this year will produce Rossini’s La Gazza Ladra, Ward’s The Crucible, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Puccini’s La Boheme. Who does not want to get away from the city through a bucolic drive, chill by the lovely Ostego lake and enjoy excellent quality full productions in an opera house that looks like a barn? Various dates in July and August at the Alice Busch Opera Theater in Cooperstown. 
Ostego Lake

Back in the city, the classic Mostly Mozart Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer. Of particular interest, The Illuminated Heart (July 25-26), with British director and video artist Netia Jones stages an evening of Mozart’s most beloved opera arias and ensembles, featuring superstar singers like Peter Mattei (aka one of the most swoon-inducing lyric baritones out there), Matthew Polenzani, Christine Goerke, Ana Maria Martinez and Nadine Sierra. The festival will also feature staged concerts of Cosi’ Fan Tutte (August 15) and Idomeneo (August 18). Last but not least, Wolfie’s C-minor Mass and Requiem (August 19-20). 

Happy operatic summer to all!

- Lei & Lui

1 comment:

  1. And there is more, check out the New York Opera Fest!