Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Opera Ain't Dying in NYC this Summer

The NYC and surroundings summer opera scene has so much going on this year that we can barely keep up. So far in the next three months we counted twenty-five different full operas (and some exciting recitals). That’s pretty much the same number of works that the Met offers over its eight-month season. Is someone out there still saying opera is a dying art form?

Met Summer Recital Series in Brooklyn Bridge Park

Chelsea Opera is staging a concert version of Puccini’s Tosca in a church, which is very site-specific of them (at least for Act I).Thursday June 4 at 7:00pm and Saturday June 6 at 4:00pm - St. Peter's Church in Chelsea 346 W 20th St (Btwn 8th/9th Ave).

Speaking of site-specific, OnSite Opera (that has a mission statement to produce operas in non-traditional venues) will kick off its 3-year “Figaro Project” of  lesser-known operatic adaptations of French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. First up is Paisiello’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the garden and courtyard of the charming UES Fabbri Mansion. June 9, 11, 12 and 13, 2015 07:30pm - Fabbri Mansion (House of the Redeemer) 7 East 95th Street. 

OnSite Opera's Barbiere at Fabbri Mansion
Photo credit: Rebecca Fay

Pierre Beaumarchais
Beaumarchais must be hot this summer as the always musically and theatrically excellent Dell’Arte Opera Ensemble is also offering a full Beaumarchais festival, including staged performances of Paisiello’s Barbiere (1792), Mozart’s Nozze (1786) and  Hiram Titus’ Rosina (1980), as well as a concert featuring excerpts of other settings of the Rosina/Figaro trilogy, including music of Rossini, Massenet, Milhaud, Corigliano, Wikstrom and Pecou. We are particularly looking forward to this festival as Dell’Arte’s artistic director Christopher Fecteau has a proven track record of doing wonders with rising young singers and bringing opera back to the intimacy of a chamber setting. All Performances in August 2015.  7:30 evening performances and 2 p.m. matinees - The Rose Nagelberg Theater in the Baruch Performing Arts Center Entrance and Box Office on E. 25th St. bet. Lexington and 3rd Aves. 

Martina Arroyo as Butterfly
Another program that has a focus on promising young performers is Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance, this year producing fully staged versions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (July 9 and 11) and Donizetti’s La Fille du Regiment (July 10 and 12) - Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College which is on 68th St. between Lexington & Park Avenues. 

Just one block away, the indie and hyper-productive Utopia Opera led by William Remmers is performing Strauss’ comic opera “about comedy and opera” Ariadne auf Naxos. June 5, 6, 12 and 13 Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College (East 69th St between Park/Lex).

Opera Company of Brooklyn’s BYOB Opera Series (operas performed in an Inwood private residence with drinks on the side)  this summer offers Rossini’s Barbiere (June 6), Strauss’ Salome (June 20), Verdi’s Trovatore (July 11) and Traviata (August 22), Donizetti’s Elisir (July 25) and Mozart’s Nozze (August 8).  OperaRox Presents, recently founded by young singers Kimberly Feltkamp and Jaimie Appleton, will produce its first full length opera, Mozart’s Nozze, on August 21 and 23 at Opera America

And for something a little bit outside the canon, Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater, and The Harlem Chamber Players join forces to present a semi-staged concert production of the Harlem Renaissance opera VOODOO by Harry Lawrence Freeman, that will be performed for the first time since its 1928 premiere. Friday, June 26th & Saturday, June 27th, 2015 - Miller Theatre/Columbia University-  2950 Broadway @ 116 St. 

Caramoor gardens
Now, for more institutional (but no less exciting) summer festivals... the Caramoor Music Festival this summer offers two operas on the collision of church and state: Donizetti’s La Favorite (July 11) and Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmelites (July 25) - who does not want to drive up to Katonah, have a picnic in idyllic gardens and enjoy a performance masterfully lead by Will Crutchfield in an open air Venetian theater?  

Also in bucolic settings, right by the Ostego Lake in upstate New York, the Glimmerglass Festival celebrates its 40 years with new productions of Verdi’s Macbeth, Mozart’s Magic Flute, Gershwin’s Candide and Vivaldi’s Catone in Utica. We are particularly excited about this last one as it’s so rarely performed and it has Operalia’s superstar countertenor John Holiday in it. Various dates in July and August. 
Ostego Lake

Back in Manhattan, the Lincoln Center Festival will host the Cleveland Orchestra for a concert performance of Strauss’ Daphne. July 15 and 18 - Avery Fisher HallAnd the Mostly Mozart Festival offers the much-anticipated U.S. stage premiere of George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, hailed as “erotic and visceral”, telling the tale of a woman bound by a cruel marriage and consumed by an illicit passion. In case one needs further incentive, Alan Gilbert will be conducting the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. August 11, 13 and 15 - David H. Koch Theater. 
Apollo and Daphne
Benjamin's Written on Skin
Photo Credit: Festival d'Aix-en-Provence
LoftOpera’s Lucrezia Borgia was one of the most electrifying shows of the year, so we’re highly intrigued by this hip company’s announcement of a “Summer Series at Industry City”. While no details on dates or programming have been provided yet, the fact that LoftOpera is behind this (whatever it is), is sufficient for us to save the dates (whichever they will be). Also, the Industry City venue (a beautifully restored warehouse structure on the waterfront of Sunset Park in Brooklyn) does not hurt. Dates TBA - Industry City, 31st St, Brooklyn
Industry City
And last but not least, the Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series around New York City’s parks are always a good bet - just bring your picnic blanket and a bottle of rose’, the City’s lights at dusk will take care of the rest. June 15, 17, 24, 26, 28 and 30 (note June 15 and 17 Isabel Leonard and Nathan Gunn will perform) - various locations around NYC. 

- Lei & Lui

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