Fall Bets for Wagner Year – Coast to Coast

These Wagnerian performances are my suggestions for consideration of opera goers in Washington, DC, San Francisco, Chicago and Phoenix. One is on my schedule for upcoming reviews:


Tristan und Isolde (Wagner), Washington National Opera, September 15(m), 18, 21, 24 and 27, 2013.

As her first offering in her first season as Artistic Director of the Washington National Opera, Francesca Zambello mounts the Neil Armfield production of “Tristan und Isolde” with heldentenor Ian Storey singing the first four Tristans and Clifton Forbis the fifth. Dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt is Isolde in all performances. [See my review of two of these principals performing in a different production, see Forbis, Voigt Brilliant as Lyric’s Tristan and Isolde – Chicago, February 24, 2009.]

Elizabeth Bishop sings Brangaene. James Rutherford makes his WNO debut as Kurwenal, as does Wilhelm Schwinghammer as King Marke.

Neil Armfield, whose productions of Britten’s works I have admired [Incandescent Houston “Midsummer Night’s Dream” – January 25, 2009, and also, Houston’s Haunting, Inscrutable “Turn of the Screw” – January 29, 2010, and also Anthony Dean Griffey’s Imposing Peter Grimes – Houston Grand Opera, November 12, 2010, and also Britten’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Chicago: Enchanting, Luminous, Hilarious – Lyric Opera, November 17, 2010] directs the production.

The sets are by Brian Thomson. Philippe Auguin conducts.

[Below: Irene Theorin as Isolde; edited image, based on a Scott Suchman photograph, courtesy of the Washington National Opera.]


[WHB Note – On September 7, the Washington National Opera announced that Deborah Voigt has wirthdrawn from all performances and will be replaced by Irene Theorin [for my review of Theorin performances in San Francisco and Munich, see Luisotti Leads Superb “Turandot” Cast In David Hockney’s Treasured Production – San Francisco Opera, September 9, 2011 and Yonghoon Lee’s Calaf Tames Theorin’s Time-Traveling Turandot – Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, November 28, 2012 for the first four performances. The final performance will be sung by Alwyn Mellor [for my review of a Mellor performance, see Wagner’s “Walkuere” Victoriously Revived at Seattle Opera – August 5, 2013.]


The Flying Dutchman [Der Fliegnede Hollaender] (Wagner), San Francisco Opera, October 22, 26, 31, November 7, 12 and 15, 2013.

Greer Grimsley is the Dutchman in this production by Petrika Ionesco, a co-production with Liege, Belgium’s Opera Royal de Wallonie. Grimsley is joined by Petra Maria Schnitzer as Senta, Ian Storey as Erik and Kristinn Sigmundsson as Daland.

Three years ago San Francisco Opera presented the Ionesco production of Alfano’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” to acclaim [for my review, see Domingo’s Swashbuckling, Cinematic San Francisco “Cyrano” – November 6, 2010].

[Below: Greer Grimsley as the Dutchman (above) and Lise Lindstrom (below) as Senta; edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]


Ionesco’s beautiful sets and Lili Kendaka’s stunning costumes for the Alfano work suggest that this Belgian”Dutchman” will be as popular and well received in San Francisco as it was at its Liege premiere.

[Subsequent to the opening night, Lise Lindstrom replaced Petra Maria Schnitzler, and the San Francisco Opera removed Ionesco from his positions as stage director and production designer, as a result of artistic differences in transferring the Liege production to San Francisco.]

 For my performance review, see: Grimsley, Lindstrom Launch a Sonically Lavish, Visually Dazzling “Flying Dutchman” – San Francisco Opera, October 22, 2013.


Parsifal (Wagner), Lyric Opera of Chicago, November 9, 12, 17(m), 22, 25 and 29, 2013

A new production by Tony-winning production designer John Caird (“Les Miserables”) and role debuts by Paul Groves as Parsifal and Daveda Karenas as Kundry, joined by the Amfortas of Thomas Hampson, are among the attractions of the Lyric Opera “Parsifal”.

[Below: Paul Groves (front right) as Parsifal; resized image, based on a Dan Rest photograph, courtesy of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.]

PARSIFAL GROVES_Dan_Rest_DR2_0696-430x602

I have admired Caird’s stagecraft in his Houston Grand Opera production of Puccini’s “Tosca”, both in Houston (see my review at A New “Tosca” for Houston Grand Opera – January 30, 2010) and Los Angeles (Sondra Radvanovsky is a Radiant, Transcendent Tosca – Los Angeles Opera, May 18, 2013).

Particularly brilliant was his realization of the original form of Verdi’s “Don Carlos” (see my review at Brandon Jovanovich Triumphant in Historic “Don Carlos” Production – Houston Grand Opera, April 13, 2012, before the Parisian management forced major cuts hours before its world premiere.)


The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Hollaender), Arizona Opera, Phoenix November 15, 16 and 17(m), 2013, Tucson, November 23 and 24(m), 2013.

French stage director Bernard Uzan may be best known to North American opera goers as the former general manager of the Opera de Montreal, but his insightful productions are often seen on American stages (see, for example, my review of his recent “Attila” (Reveling in Early Verdi: Relyea, Garcia, Vratogna, Palombi in Montanaro’s Uncut “Attila” – Seattle Opera, January 14, 2012.)

He has a starry cast of Wagnerian singers for the five performances (three in Phoenix, two in Tucson). Mark Delavan (see The Dawning of a New Wotan: Interview with Mark Delavan Part 1 and The Dawning of a New Wotan – An Interview with Mark Delavan, Part 2) is the Dutchman.

The Senta is Lori Phillips, who stepped in triumphantly for two of the three Bruennhildes for the first Seattle “Ring of the Nibelungs” [see my reviews at Seattle Opera’s Sumptuously Sung, Sensuous “Siegfried” with a Surprise – August 7, 2013 and World Treasure: Seattle Opera’s Gripping and Glorious “Götterdämmerung” – August 9, 2013.]

[Below: Raymond Aceto (left) in costume for Daland and Mark Delavan (right) in costume as the Dutchman; edited image of a photograph from Facebook.com/az opera .]


Corey Bix is the Erik. The Daland is Raymond Aceto (see Rising Stars: An Interview with Raymond Aceto, Part I and Rising Stars: An Interview with Raymond Aceto – Part II) . The conductor is to be Joseph Rescigno.


Previous postings in my “Quests and Anticipations” series highlight September, 2013 performances of Boito’s “Mefistofele” in San Francisco [In Quest of “High Concept Direction” in Opera Performance – June-September 2013].

Also highlighted are productions of Bizet’s “Carmen” in Los Angeles and Delibes’ “Lakme” in Montreal [Best Bet Revivals of Live Opera Productions May-September, 2013].