Three strong female characters will headline the three productions in Opera Omaha's 2013-14 season, dubbed a year of “Breaking Boundaries.”
General director Roger Weitz said he is again balancing the season with shows representing a classic greatest hit, Bizet's “Carmen”; a widely known top-200 title, Rossini's “Cinderella”; and a lesser-known, more adventurous work, Handel's “Agrippina.”
With the last work, he is alternating years with shows from either the earliest or more modern bookends of opera's repertoire, such as this month's “Bluebeard's Castle.”
Weitz offered details he said make each production a compelling event for Omaha audiences:
“Carmen,” Nov. 1 and 3
Featuring some of opera's most beloved music, “Carmen” is a thriller about a soldier's ill-fated obsession with a femme fatale. The production was acquired from the New York City Opera. Weitz described it as big, beautiful and full of spectacle, including a huge chorus.
Director Lillian Groag, a playwright and actress, promises to make the show as gripping theatrically as it is musically. One of her collaborators, whose credits include shows on cable TV's HBO, will choreograph the show's passionate fight scenes.
It will star Leann Sandel-Pantaleo, Jonathan Burton and Leah Partridge. Hal France will conduct. It's in French with English supertitles.
“Agrippina,” Feb. 14 and 16, 2014
The oldest opera ever staged by Opera Omaha, this 1709 work centers on the mother of Roman emperor Nero. When her husband dies, Agrippina uses seduction and deception to make sure her son takes the throne. The show is fast-paced and full of plot twists and dark comedy, and is considered one of George Frideric Handel's best.
The production is being built from scratch for Opera Omaha, which is premiering a new version shaped by director James Darrah and conductor Stephen Stubbs. It will include an aria imported from another Handel work.
Weitz said “Agrippina” often is considered Handel's first masterpiece. He said Darrah is a rising young star in the opera world, employing a team of designers committed to staging early operas in ways that resonate with contemporary audiences.
Stars will be Jennifer Rivera, Hadleigh Adams and Nathan Medley. It's in Italian with English supertitles.
“Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola”), April 25 and 27, 2014
This whimsical, colorful and family-friendly show contains some of Gioachino Rossini's finest writing, both solos and ensemble, Weitz said. It will feature the vocal fireworks of an exciting young cast. But it differs a bit from the version of the tale most children know.
Instead of a stepmother, there's a stepfather. Instead of a glass slipper, Cinderella gets a bracelet the prince must match to claim her. Instead of a fairy godmother, there's a friendly tutor. And a subplot involves the prince and his valet exchanging clothes and identities, causing the wicked stepsisters to fawn over the wrong man.
Stars will be Daniel Belcher, Andrew Gangestad and Levi Hernandez. Leonardo Vordoni will conduct. It's in Italian with English supertitles.
Season subscriptions go on sale Wednesday, starting at $49. That's a 15 percent discount on individual tickets, which will go on sale around Labor Day. Information is available at operaomaha.org.
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