Opera Theatre of St. Louis Announces 2019 Season; Includes 28th World Premiere

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has announced the complete schedule for OTSL’s 2019 Festival Season, which will run May 25 – June 30, 2019.

The season continues OTSL’s long-standing commitment to creating resonant new opera performed by the
greatest young artists of this generation. Three all-new productions will be performed in
repertory with the previously announced “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” which is the company’s
28th world premiere.
The newly announced productions are Mozart’s comedy “The Marriage of
Figaro,” Verdi’s masterpiece “Rigoletto,” and Monteverdi’s bloody political thriller “The
Coronation of Poppea.”
The season, which will be Andrew Jorgensen’s first as the company’s
General Director, will also include the annual Center Stage concert, highlighting the talents of
OTSL’s highly selective young artist programs.
“I couldn’t be more delighted to begin my tenure at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis with such a
rich and diverse season of brilliant music making and powerful storytelling,” said General
Director Designate Andrew Jorgensen. “While these operas span several centuries, they share
one common thread: the power and beauty of live music to stir the soul. There is no better place
to see these stories come alive than an intimate venue like the Loretto-Hilton Center – and what a
talented group of artists we have assembled to create truly transformative experiences! I invite
audiences far and wide to discover this season with us. It’s going to be a wonderful journey.”
All operas are accompanied by members of the Grammy Award-winning St. Louis Symphony
Orchestra and are performed in English, with projected English titles. Details on casting, creative
teams, and performance dates are included here.
“The Marriage of Figaro”
May 25, 31, June 6, 8, 12, 16, 19, and 29
Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” opens the 2019 season with a new production directed by
two-time Tony nominee and Metropolitan Opera veteran Mark Lamos. Christopher Allen
returns to OTSL after conducting “The Grapes of Wrath” and “La Traviata.”
Mozart’s comic masterwork takes place during the day of the wedding of Figaro and Susanna,
two servants in the house of Count Almaviva. The Count is determined to seduce Susanna before
she ties the knot with Figaro. Susanna, however, has other ideas. With the help of the Countess
and a troublesome pageboy, a plan is set into motion to stop the madness before the day’s end.
Filled with moments of hilarity, sincerity, and humanity, The Marriage of Figaro reminds
audiences that love will always prevail – and that forgiveness is always within reach.
The roles of Figaro and Susanna will be performed by Aubrey Allicock and Monica Dewey,
starts whose careers began at OTSL young artists. Mr. Allicock, who is best remembered for his
heartbreaking portrayal of Emile Griffith in the world premiere of Champion, returns to OTSL
after debuts at such prominent venues as the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Philadelphia, and
Washington National Opera. Ms. Dewey, who was a Gaddes Festival Artist in 2017’s Titus and
who returns in 2018 as Alexandra in Regina, will represent the United States in the 2018
Operalia competition in Lisbon.
Baritone Theo Hoffman, last seen as Josef K. in 2017’s “The Trial,” will sing the jealous Count
Almaviva. Soprano Susanna Biller, who has recently originated world-premier roles at the
Minnesota Opera and San Francisco Opera, sings his wife, the Countess Rosina.
“Rigoletto”
June 1, 5, 14, 20, 22, 26, and 30
“Rigoletto,” Verdi’s tale of love and revenge, returns to the OTSL stage for the first time in over a
decade. Rigoletto, the court jester, serves up acerbic insults to amuse the court of the Duke of
Mantua, while the licentious Duke seduces any woman who catches his eye. The jester
begrudgingly serves his master until a curse from one of the Duke’s wronged families leaves
Rigoletto uneasy. The final straw comes when the Duke steals Rigoletto’s own daughter Gilda
away from him. Determined to seek revenge, Rigoletto sets a plan into action to repay the Duke
– but instead ends up reaping the hatred he helped sow.
Baritone Roland Wood returns to OTSL for his second Verdi title role after his critically
acclaimed appearance in 2016’s “Macbeth.” Since “Macbeth,” he has enjoyed international fame,
performing at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and the Santa Fe Opera. Soprano
So Young Park, who dazzled as Zerbinetta in 2016’s Ariadne on Naxos, sings his beloved
daughter Gilda. She recently made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, and appears frequently
at the LA Opera. Tenor Joshua Wheeker makes his leading role debut with OTSL as the Duke
after spending a year in the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program at the LA Opera.
Casablanca-born stage director Bruno Ravella makes his OTSL debut with the production, and
OTSL Head of Music Staff and Resident Conductor Roberto Kalb makes his debut conducting
the full run of a mainstage production.
“The Coronation of Poppea”
June 9, 13, 15, 22, 26, and 28
Claudio Monteverdi’s “The Coronation of Poppea,” first performed in 1643, has been thrilling
audiences from the beginning of operatic history with its story of political intrigue, blackmail,
murder, and divine intervention. Poppea, a social-climbing noblewoman, has won the heart of
Nero, the Emperor of Rome, and plans to marry him and become empress. Many obstacles stand
in her way, but Poppea will stop at nothing until she takes the throne.
The staying power of this extraordinary early masterpiece is captured brilliantly in director Tim
Albery’s new performing edition, which he originally devised in 2014 for Opera North (Leeds,
England) based on his own translation. “The result,” wrote The Guardian, “suggests that the
piece was a significant prototype for both kinds of opera, musical and soap…all set to music of
the most sensuous and exquisite beauty.”
For the OTSL production, Poppea will be conducted by Nicholas Kok in his US debut. The
highly sought-after English conductor’s previous appearances include multiple engagements
with English National Opera, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Oper Köln, London Philharmonic, BBC
Symphony, and Radio Sinfonie Orchester Berlin. Mezzo-soprano Emily Fons, who sings the
title character Poppea, recently created the role of Ruby in Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain and
makes her company debut at the Seattle Opera in 2019. Acclaimed young tenor Brenton Ryan is
Nero, following performances at the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, and Houston Grand Opera.
Metropolitan Opera veteran bass-baritone David Pittsinger sings the doomed Seneca, and
internationally renowned soprano Patricia Schuman sings the role of Arnalta, Poppea’s
confidant.
“Fire Shut Up in My Bones”
June 15, 19, 21, 23, 27, and 29
As announced earlier in 2018, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” will continue OTSL’s critically
acclaimed New Works, Bold Voices series of new American opera, commissioned by OTSL to
broaden the operatic canon. Co-commissioned with Jazz St. Louis, this opera-in-jazz by
Grammy Award-winning composer Terence Blanchard (Champion, A Tale of God’s Will – A
Requiem for Katrina) and screenwriter and librettist Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou, Black
Nativity) is adapted from the memoir of celebrated writer and New York Times columnist
Charles Blow.
A powerfully redemptive memory story, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” traces the tale of young
“Charles-Baby” growing up in the tiny town of Gibsland, Louisiana – where the legacy of his
elders is closely felt alongside a near-constant wash of violence. The young Charles’ attachment
to his mother – a fiercely driven woman – cannot protect him from secret abuse at the hands of
an older cousin. Years follow of anger and searing self-doubt, until Charles faces a life-changing
decision: continue the cycle of violence or choose forgiveness instead.
The cast features company debuts of three prominent American singers. Bass-baritone Davóne
Tines sings the role of Charles Blow, who previously originated roles in major world premieres
including Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, and has appeared at the Teatro Real
de Madrid and Opéra National de Paris, among other prestigious international venues. Soprano
Julia Bullock, whose operatic career began in OTSL’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training Program,
has enjoyed an international career at the English National Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and
the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Soprano Karen Slack, whose recent credits include
performances at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington National Opera sings the role of
Charles’ mother. OTSL Artistic Director James Robinson directs and William Long makes his
OTSL debut conducting.
Center Stage
June 25, 2019
OTSL’s now-annual Center Stage concert returns for a one-night-only event of extraordinary
singing, showcasing the talents of OTSL’s Richard Gaddes Festival Artists and Gerdine Young
Artists. These are among the most selective young artist programs in the country, accepting just
30 to 40 singers annually from among as many as 1,200 applicants. Music Director Emeritus
Stephen Lord will lead members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra on stage for this
exclusive performance.
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Subscriptions to the 2019 Festival Season become available on Saturday, May 19, 2018 and can
be purchased by phone or in person throughout OTSL’s 2018 Festival Season. Subscriptions will
be available for purchase online in late June. Early bird subscription tickets start at only $40 for a
two-opera matinee package or $76 for a four-opera series. Subscription prices increase
Sept. 29. Single tickets will be available for purchase in October 2018, with prices
starting at just $25 per ticket. For more information about the 2019 Festival Season, visit
ExperienceOpera.org or call the Opera Theatre Box Office at (314) 961-0644.
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About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American opera companies, known for a
spring festival of inventive new productions sung in English, featuring the finest American
singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony. As of its 2018 Festival
Season, Opera Theatre has presented 27 world premieres and 27 American premieres — which
may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any US company. Described by
the Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” Opera
Theatre of Saint Louis annually welcomes visitors from nearly every state and close to a dozen
foreign countries. Although the size of the theater typically limits box office income to less than
a quarter of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while
never accumulating a deficit.
Opera Theatre also has a long tradition of discovering and promoting the careers of the finest
operatic artists of the current generation. Among the artists who had important early
opportunities at Opera Theatre are Erie Mills, Jerry Hadley, Christine Brewer, Thomas
Hampson, Sylvia McNair, Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, Dwayne Croft, Patricia Racette,
Matthew Polenzani, Nathan Gunn, Lawrence Brownlee, Kelly Kaduce, and Jennifer Johnson
Cano. Opera Theatre has always been known for distinguished leadership: founding general
director Richard Gaddes was succeeded in 1985 by general director Charles MacKay, with
famed British stage director Colin Graham as artistic director and Stephen Lord as music
director. (Mr. Lord became music director emeritus and artistic director of young artist programs
in 2017.) Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008, at the same time
acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeded the late Colin Graham. At the conclusion of
Mr. O’Leary’s tenure as General Director in July 2018, he will be succeeded by General Director
Designate Andrew Jorgensen.
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is funded in part by the Regional Arts Commission, Arts and
Education Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Missouri Arts Council, with
audience building programs supported by The Wallace Foundation.
Generous leadership support for the services of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is provided by the Taylor Family and the late Jack C. Taylor.

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