In Quest of Intriguing Operas, Casts and Productions – October 2016-March 2017

The Quests and Anticipations operas listed below each are of more than routine interest because of the rarity of performances, the excellence of the casts, the new productions being created, or some combination of all these factors.

Faust (Gounod), Houston Grand Opera, October 28, 30(m), November 5, 8 and 11. 2016

The vintage Francesca Zambello production of Gounod’s “Faust” that I admire [see A “Faust” Surprise in Houston – January 23, 2007], will become the vehicle for as stellar cast, in which Michael Fabiano as Faust, Ana Maria Martinez ais Marguerite and Luca Pisaroni is Mephistopheles. Sol Jin is Valentin.

[Below: A scene from the Francesca Zambello production Gounod’s “Faust” at Houston Grand Opera; edited image of a Lynn Lane photograph, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera.]


Antonino Fogliani conducts. Garnett Bruce is the revival director. The sets and costumes are Earl Staley’s.

[For my performance review, see: Review: World Class Singing in Classic “Faust” – Fabiano, Martinez, Pisaroni, Hopkins at Houston Grand Opera, October 28, 2016.]

Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky) The Dallas Opera, October 28, 30, November 2, 5, 2016

The Tel Aviv opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s most famous opera stars Ukraininan baritone Andrei Bondarenko as Onegin, Russian soprano Svetlana Aksenova as Tatiana, Pennsylvania tenor Stephen Costello as Lensky, Esthonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel is Olga and Russian basso Mikhail Kazakov is Gremin.

[Below: Eugene Onegin (Andrei Bondarenko, right) is condescending to Tatyana (Svetlana Aksenova, left) in The Dallas Opera production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”; edited image, based on a Marty Sohl photograph, courtesy of The Dallas Opera’s Jean-Claude Auvray production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”; edited image, based on a Karen Almond photograph, courtesy of The Dallas Opera.]


The conductor is Emmanuel Villaume. Regina Alexandrovskaya is revival director for Jean-Claude Auvray’s originial production, whose costumes are by Chiara Donato.

[For my performance review, see: Review: A Fascinating “Eugene Onegin” at The Dallas Opera, October 30, 2016.]

Der Freischütz (Weber), Virginia Opera (Harrison Opera House, Norfolk) January 27, 29(m) and 31  (George Mason University, Fairfax) February 4, 5, 2017 (Carpenter Theater, Richmond)  February 17, 19, 2017.

Director Stephen Lawless mounts a new production of Weber’s “Der Freischütz”, the classic German work that, despite a recent production in Toronto, seems to be virtually unknown in most parts of contemporary North America.

[Below: Maestro Adam Turner conducts the Virginia Symphony in the dress rehearsal for the Stephen Lawless production of “The Magic Marksman”; edited image, based on a Ron Schill photograph, courtesy of the Virginia Opera.]

Max is Corey Bix, Agatha is Kara Shay Thomson. Caspar is Joseph Barron, Annchen is Katherine Polit.

Andrew Paulson is Prince Ottokar, Kevin Langan is Cuno, Trevor Neal is Killian and Jake Gardner plays A Hermit and Samuel.

Adam Turner conducts. The sets are by Benoit Dugardyn, the costumes by Susan Wilmington.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Freischütz American Style – Virginia Opera’s Praiseworthy “Magic Marksman” – Norfolk, January 27, 2017.]

L’Amore dei Tre Re [The Love of Three Kings] (Montemezzi), Sarasota Opera (Florida), March 11, 14, 16, 19(m) and 22, 2016

Since the HBO television series Game of Thrones has become a worldwide phenomenon, opera managements and directors should give consideration this infectiously melodious verismo work about marital infidelity occurring behind castle walls. Although composed a century before the HBO series, its plot points (including characters instantly dying after kissing poisoned lips) seem straight out of Westeros.

[Below: Archibaldo (Kevin Short, kneeling, right) mourns the death of his son Manfredo (Marco Nistico, lying on ground, center) who kissed the poisoned lips of Fiora (Elizabeth Tredent, lying on bier) as did his rival, Avito (Matthews Vickers, lying on ground, left) in a Sarasota Opera production of Montemezzi’s “L’Amore dei Tre Re”; edited image, based on a Rod Millington photograph for Opera Sarasota.]

It was one of the most popular early 20th century operas up until a half century ago, when it disappeared from most opera company repertories. However, the Sarasota Opera is creating a new production, the company’s second “Three Kings” production this century.

Elizabeth Trident is Fiora. Marco Nistico is Manfredo, Kevin Short is Archibaldo. Victor DeRenzi conducts, Stephanie Sundine directs. The scenic design is by David P. Gordon with Howard Tsvi Kaplan designing the costumes.

[For my performance, review, see: Review: Sarasota Opera’s Affectionate Mounting of “Love for Three Kings [L’Amore dei Tre Re]” – March 11, 2017.]

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed through August 2017:

Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Butterfly” in the American Southwest – October 2015 to December 2016.]

Janacek’s “The Makropoulos Case” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Operatic Masterpieces from the German and Czech Repertories – April- November, 2016.]

Sheng’s “Dream of the Red Chamber” at the San Francisco Opera and Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Houston Grand Opera [See In Quest of Repertory-Expanding Operas – April-December, 2016.]

Verdi’s “Aida” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Live Performances of Popular Operas – May-November, 2016.]

Giordano’s “Andrea Chénier” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Less-Often Performed Core Repertory Operas – June-September, 2016.]

Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” at the San Francisco Opera and “L’Elisir d’Amore” at the Houston Grand Opera and Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Operatic Comedy – July 2016 – August 2017.]