Cincinnati Opera Returns to Music Hall for 2022 Season | cultural | Cincinnati
Like many other events, the 2020 Cincinnati Opera Centennial Celebration fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic. But for the 2022 season, the opera will finally return to the Music Hall after a two-year absence. Even better: much of the original 2020 program remains intact.
There is something to celebrate. Five operas range from classic grand opera to chamber works and slapstick comedy. Three operas from the 2020 season are on the programme, including two world premieres. The cast features internationally acclaimed artists and some of today’s hottest young singers accompanied by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of acclaimed conductors. And the production teams bring together local creatives and designers joined by colleagues from around the world.
The season opener, Puccini’s Bohemian“makes it official that we’re back,” said Cincinnati Opera artistic director Evans Mirageas. CityBeat through a Zoom interview. “It’s familiar and it’s a favorite.”
BohemiaThe romantic and poignant story of love found and lost in Paris contrasts intimate emotional moments with rowdy comedy in Puccini’s exquisite score. The cast includes soprano Talise Travigne, tenor Ji-Min Park and Metropolitan Opera audition winner and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music alumnus Raven McMillon.
Comic relief comes when The Penzance Pirates navigates the Music Hall. William S. Gilbert’s lyrics and Arthur Sullivan’s brilliant score slyly deflate respectability, rectitude and grand opera with dazzling coloratura arias and driving choruses.
Gilbert and Sullivan were the hottest theatrical team of the Victorian era with a string of hits spanning two decades. pirateThe dialogue is laden with outdated barbs on British social and political targets, so Mirageas and production manager Sean Curran create more Cincinnati-centric lines.
“There are no sacred cows,” says Mirageas.
Tenor David Walton, who sang roles in the 2019 production of Ariadne in Naxos, returns as Frederick, the devoted apprentice pirate. Zachary James, featured in the Metropolitan Opera production of Philip Glass Akhenatenis the Pirate King, and in a deluxe casting feat, famed Wagnerian mezzo Amber Wagner sings the role of Ruth, the older woman in love with Frederick.
Two world premieres originally scheduled for the 2020 season finally debut, both scheduled for the School for Creative and Performing Arts’ Corbett Auditorium and both addressing issues facing contemporary audiences.
Fierce features four teenage girls challenged by sexuality, love, parental expectations and the devastation caused by cyber trolls. Northern Kentucky novelist Sheila Williams based her booklet on conversations with ten girls between the ages of 13 and 18. “We talked about everything from our favorite TV shows to our favorite makeup and then how we define ourselves as artists,” Williams said. CityBeat. “They blew me away with their honesty and ideas.”
Acclaimed pianist, conductor and pedagogue William Menefield was asked to compose Fierce after dazzling audiences with the Cincinnati Opera’s popular “Opera Goes to Church” series. Menefield is an alumnus of CCM and the School of Creative and Performing Arts, where Fierce will be carried out. Lynn Meyers of Ensemble Theater is directing the production, her first for the company.
Beaver and Patience tackles family, the festering wounds of racism and the impact of the 2008 recession. 2017-2019 American Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith based her booklet on her story about two members of a black family facing poverty and inheritance. Gregory Spears is the composer, following the successful premiere of his opera at the Cincinnati Opera in 2016 Travel Companions.
The season ends with Giuseppe Verdi Aida. Verdi’s tale of love, loyalty and revenge set in ancient Egypt contrasts the great choruses of the Triumphal March with passionate, intimate duets. For Mirageas, the production pays homage to the resources of Cincinnati Opera allowing the company to stage grand opera on a scale unmatched by other American summer opera companies.
Soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams is enslaved Ethiopian Princess Aida and internationally renowned tenor Gregory Kunde is her lover Radames. Mezzo Tichina Vaughn makes her corporate debut as the vengeful Egyptian princess Amneris. The Cincinnati Opera’s artistic advisor, Morris Robinson, is the high priest, and Gordon Hawkins returns to sing Aida’s father, Amonasro.
The Cincinnati Opera will kick off its 2022 season with a free public concert at 7:30 p.m. on June 12 in Washington Park. It will feature actors from Bohemian and pirate.
And at 7:30 p.m. on July 27, at the Music Hall, Robinson will host an evening of opera, gospel and musical theater with friends and colleagues. The event will feature soprano Talise Trevigne, tenors Larry Brownlee and Russell Thomas and baritone Will Liverman, who ripped it into Terence Blanchard Fire locked in my bones. They will be joined by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and a choir of singers from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“Expect the unexpected,” says Mirageas.
The Cincinnati Opera’s 2022 season runs from June 18 through July 31. Info: cincinnationopera.org.
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