Opera Philadelphia Launches 2015-16 Season with Second Consecutive World Premiere: ANDY: A Popera (Sep 10–20)

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Opera Philadelphia Launches 2015-16 Season with Second Consecutive World Premiere: ANDY: A Popera (Sep 10–20)

Opera Philadelphia launches its 41st season with its second consecutive world premiere: ANDY: A Popera, an opera-cabaret hybrid inspired by the life, fame, and philosophy of pop icon Andy Warhol. Co-produced with the virtuosic and gender-bending Bearded Ladies Cabaret troupe, ANDY features music by 2014 TED Fellow Dan Visconti and Philadelphia’s Heath Allen and a libretto by Bearded Ladies artistic director John Jarboe (Sep 10–20). The world-premiere production is one of two new American operas in Opera Philadelphia’s thoughtfully curated 2015-16 lineup, which also showcases the East Coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain, starring the dream team of Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard, and Jay Hunter Morris (Feb 5–14). Complementing this cutting-edge fare are three undisputed classics. Lisette Oropesa and Alek Shrader headline the American premiere of a new staging of La traviata, complete with an Opening Night Gala and a free, open-air HD broadcast (Oct 2–11). The company joins forces with Curtis Opera Theatre to present a new production of Strauss’s Capriccio (March 2–6). And house favorites Sarah Shafer, Christopher Tiesi, Craig Verm, and Kevin Burdette draw the season to a comedic close in Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love (April 29–May 8).

As the New York Times reports, Opera Philadelphia has succeeded with “a wider shift toward more new music, co-commissions and a general willingness to take risks on unorthodox subjects and genres.” General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia David B. Devan explains:

“The 2015-16 Season at Opera Philadelphia is a celebration of the vitality of opera in the 21st century. This is a season that truly showcases Philadelphia as a hotbed of operatic innovation. I am so excited to team up with a devised theatre troupe on a cabaret-opera hybrid staged in a warehouse, and then shift to the Academy of Music for the East Coast Premiere of Cold Mountain written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Jennifer writes wonderful music that speaks to the audience; our ANDY cast will quite literally SPEAK to the audience during their show. I cannot wait to share these innovative new productions with opera lovers in Philadelphia.”

ANDY: A Popera (world premiere)

Transforming a city warehouse into a fabulous den of pop iconography, where singing soup cans, multiple Marilyns, and a lascivious banana share the stage with Warhol’s mother, his would-be assassin, and Warhol Superstars Candy Darling and Edie Sedgwick, ANDY explores what it means for a man to become a brand, and what the pop artist represents today. Having been hailed in development as “strange, smart and entertaining” (Philadelphia Inquirer), Opera Philadelphia’s premiere production follows on the heels of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD this past June, which marked the company’s first world premiere since 1976 and was greeted with generous critical acclaim. The Wall Street Journal called it “terrific,” noting, “Its rhythms snap and swing, its melodies … seize the ear, its ensembles crackle with energy.” Both operas reflect the company’s current commitment to programming works relevant to the Philadelphia community, and to broadening and diversifying opera’s audience; as radio station WRTI-FM marveled, Opera Philadelphia “is clearly not your father’s opera. It’s actually more like your hipster nephew’s opera.”

David Devan and John Jarboe discuss ANDY: A Popera
Click here to read composer Dan Visconti’s blogpost on ANDY: A Popera.

ANDY: A Popera is underwritten in part by the Knight Foundation.

Cold Mountain (East Coast premiere)

Under the auspices of its American Repertoire Program, Opera Philadelphia presents the East Coast premiere of Cold Mountain, the first opera by Philadelphia resident Jennifer Higdon, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Based on the National Book Award-winning novel by Charles Frazier, Higdon’s score is composed to a libretto by Gene Scheer, of Moby-Dick and An American Tragedy fame. A major new co-commission and co-production with the Santa Fe Opera and Minnesota Opera, Cold Mountain – one of the “most anticipated world premieres ahead” (NPR) – tells a compelling story of love, honor and determination, starring Grammy Award-winners Nathan Gunn, Isabel Leonard, and Jay Hunter Morris under Helpmann Award-winner Leonard Foglia’s direction.

Click here to see Higdon, Frazier, Scheer, Gunn, Leonard, and Foglia discuss Cold Mountain.

La traviata

Following recent grand-scale stagings of Nabucco and Don Carlo, it is again with Verdi that Opera Philadelphia makes its first appearance of the season at the Academy of Music, with the American premiere of a stylish new production of La traviata from award-winning Scottish director Paul Curran, which debuted at the Bucharest National Opera last year. Highlighted by a black-tie Opening Night Gala (Oct 2), and a free HD broadcast in Independence National Historical Park which marks the company’s fifth annual Opera on the Mall event (Oct 3), Opera Philadelphia’s presentation showcases the house and role debuts of Metropolitan Opera favorite Lisette Oropesa and Grammy Award-winner Alek Shrader, with Music Director Corrado Rovaris on the podium.

Click here to see a video preview of La traviata.

Capriccio (new production)

Opera Philadelphia’s annual co-productions with Curtis Opera Theatre and the Kimmel Center have been recognized as “must-see events for serious operagoers” (Opera News). Marking the collaboration’s ninth season, they join forces once again for a new production of Richard Strauss’s final opera Capriccio, starring gifted young voices from Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, directed by Chas Rader-Shieber and conducted by Timothy Myers in the Kimmel Center’s intimate Perelman Theater, “one of the ideal chamber opera venues in the Northeast” (Arts Journal).

Click here to see a preview video of Capriccio.

This production is funded, in part, through support from the William Penn Foundation.

The Elixir of Love

Drawing Opera Philadelphia’s 41st season to a glorious close, Music Director Corrado Rovaris reunites with director Stephen Lawless to reprise their hit take on The Elixir of Love in the Academy of Music. Transplanting Donizetti’s tender bel canto comedy to the World War II era, the production will boast a talented cast of company favorites anchored by soprano Sarah Shafer (Ainadamar) and tenor Christopher Tiesi (Powder Her Face) – “a great find as Nemorino” (Daily Express) – with Craig Verm (La bohème) and Kevin Burdette (The Barber of Seville) as the huckster Dulcamara.

Click here to see a video preview of The Elixir of Love.

Opera Philadelphia is supported by major grants from Wyncote Foundation, The William Penn Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, and the Knight Foundation. US Airways is the official airline of Opera Philadelphia. Hyatt at the Bellevue is the official hotel of Opera Philadelphia. Burdumy Motors Incorporated is the official automotive dealership of Opera Philadelphia. Opera Philadelphia receives arts funding support through grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and The Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

About Opera Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia creates outstanding productions of both classic and new operatic works that resonate within the community, assembles the finest international creative artists, and presents a wide array of programming that educates, deepens, and diversifies the opera audience in Philadelphia and beyond. Opera Philadelphia is leading the field in the development of new opera. In partnership with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music-Theatre Group, the company runs the nation’s first collaborative Composer-in-Residence program, made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with talented composers Lembit Beecher, Missy Mazzoli, Andrew Norman, and David T. Little each involved in several years of intensive, hands-on work to develop an understanding of the many facets of developing and producing opera. In tandem with the Composer-in-Residence program, the American Repertoire Program is aimed at fostering a new generation of opera composers and telling authentically American stories. It is steered by the American Repertoire Council, a committed group of volunteer advisors overseen by operatic baritone Nathan Gunn. More information is available at www.operaphila.org.

To download high-res photos, click here.

Opera Philadelphia 2015-16 season

Sep 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, & 20
ANDY: A Popera (world premiere)
Co-Production with Bearded Ladies Cabaret
Warehouse space located at 1526 North American Street
Music by Dan Visconti and Heath Allen
Text by John Jarboe in development with Sean Lally and ensemble
Music Director: Heath Allen*
Director: John Jarboe*

Oct 2, 4m, 7, 9 & 11m
Verdi: La traviata
Academy of Music
American premiere of production from Bucharest National Opera
Conductor: Corrado Rovaris
Director: Paul Curran*

Feb 5, 7m, 10, 12 & 14m
Jennifer Higdon: Cold Mountain (East Coast premiere)
Academy of Music
American Repertoire Program
Co-commission and co-production with The Santa Fe Opera and Minnesota Opera in collaboration with North Carolina Opera
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Conductor: Corrado Rovaris
Director: Leonard Foglia

March 2, 4 & 6m
Richard Strauss: Capriccio
New production of the Curtis Institute of Music presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Aurora Series: Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater
Conductor: Timothy Myers
Director: Chas Rader-Shieber
Curtis Opera Theatre Artistic Director: Mikael Eliasen

April 29, May 1m, 4, 6 & 8m
Gaetano Donizetti: The Elixir of Love
Academy of Music
Production from The Santa Fe Opera
Conductor: Corrado Rovaris
Director: Stephen Lawless

*Opera Philadelphia Debut


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