In Quest of 21st Century American Operas – November, 2018 – August, 2019

I am scheduled to review the following operas, which include two world premieres and the revival of a work on whose world premiere I reported previously. These operas are to be presented by the San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera or the Glimmerglass Festival between November 2018 and August 2019:

It’s a Wonderful Life (Heggie), San Francisco Opera,November 17, 20, 24, 25, 29; December 1, 4, 7 and 9, 2018.

Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer have created an opera, that is based upon, but reimagines, the storyline of Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life.

The creative team from the work’s Houston Grand Opera’s 2016 world premiere, including Maestro Patrick Summers and Director Leonard Foglia, will be present for the work’s West Coast Premiere. Reprising their roles from Houston are William Burden as the idealistic George Bailey, Joshua Hopkins as George’s brother Harry, and Rod Gilfry as the shrewd, but heartless business rival, Mr Potter.

[Below: the Brothers Bailey, Harry (Joshua Hopkins, left) and George (William Burden, right) embrace; edited image, based on a Lynn Lane photograph, courtesy of the Houston Grand Opera.]

The most obvious difference with the Capra film is the opera’s emphasis on the process of new guardian angels earning their wings through doing good deeds for humans. In the opera the guardian angel is Clara, to be performed by South African soprano Golda Schultz in her San Francisco Opera debut. Clara is advised by an “Angel Quartet” consisting of Sarah Cambidge, Ashley Dixon, Amitai Pati and Christian Pursell.

Other debuting artists include Andriana Churchman as Mary Hatch and Keith Jameson as Uncle Billy.

[For my review of the opera’s world premiere in Houston, see: World Premiere Review: Jake Heggie’s Celestial Transformation of “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Houston Grand Opera, December 2, 2016.]

[For my review see: Review: Jake Heggie’s Revised “It’s a Wonderful Life” – San Francisco Opera. November 25, 2018.]

The Phoenix (O’Regan), Houston Grand Opera, April 26, 28(m), May 4, 7 and 10, 2019

Houston Grand Opera has commissioned a world premiere of an opera based on the life of Mozart’s librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, with music composed by Tarik O’Regan to a libretto by John Caird.

[Below: Baritone Thomas Hampson, who will create the role of Lorenzo da Ponte in the Houston Grand Opera world premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s “The Phoenix”; edited image, based on a publicity photograph.]

Baritone Thomas Hampson is Da Ponte. Hampson’s real life son-in-law bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni is Da Ponte as a youth. Multiple paiew rts are shared by Rahib Chaieb, Joseph Kaiser, Lauren Snouffer and Elizabeth Sutphen.  John Caird directs; Maestro Patrick Summers conducts.

[For my review, see: World Premiere Review: Superb Performances from Thomas Hampson and Luca Pisaroni in O’Regan and Caird’s “The Phoenix” – Houston Grand Opera, April 26, 2019.]

The Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliani), Glimmerglass Festival, July 13, 23, 25, August 3, 9, 12, 18 and 23, 2019.

The Glimmerglass Festival presents John Corigliani’s fantasy about the ghost of Marie Antoinette, the Revolutionary dramatist Beaumarchais and Beaumarchais’ inventions, the characters from “Barber of Seville” and “The Marriage of Figaro”.

Although the opera itself was first performed in the last decade of the 20th century, it has had important new productions (an indication of a work’s durability) in the 21st century. The staging to be seen at Glimmerglass is a co-production between the Glimmerglass and France’s Royal Opera of Versailles.

[Below: Yelena Dyachek as the Ghost of Marie Antoinette; edited image, based on a Karli Cadel photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival.]

Jay Lesenger directs. Maestro Joseph Colaneri conducts.

[For my review of a performance of the opera at the Los Angeles Opera, see: Review: Los Angeles Opera Launches Ambitious New Production of “Ghosts of Versailles” – February 7, 2015.]

[For my performance review, see: Review: An Elegant New Production of “Ghosts of Versailles”, Glimmerglass Festival, July 13, 2019.

Blue (Tesori), Glimmerglass Festival, July 14, 26, 29, August 2, 6, 10, 17 and 22, 2019.

The Glimmerglass Festival 2019 will present a new opera by composerJeannine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson. The subject of the opera is an African-American couple in Harlem coming to terms with the death of their son at the hands of a police officer.

Bass Kenneth Kellogg will sing the role of The Father and leads a cast that includes bass-baritone Eric Owens. The sets are by Donald Eastman, costumes by Jessica Jahn and lighting by Robert Wierzel. Eric Sean Fogel is choreographer.

[ Below: the Son (Aaron Crouch) shows deliberate disrespect for his father’s occupation; edited image, based on a Karli Cadel photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival.]

Tazewell Thompson directs. Maestro John DeMain conducts.

[For my performance review, see: World Premiere Review: Tesori and Thompson’s Sobering “Blue”: Lushly Melodic, Dramatically Persuasive – Glimmerglass Festival, July 14, 2019.]

For my review of a previous Tesori opera presented at the Glimmerglass Festival, see: The Pittsingers as the O’Neills in Tesori’s “Blizzard on Marblehead Neck” – Glimmerglass, August 13, 2011.]

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed through August 2019:

Wagner’s “Siegfried” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Humperdinck’s “Hansel und Gretel” at the Los Angeles Opera, Dvorak’s “Rusalka” at the San Francisco Opera and “The Thirteenth Child” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Operas Based on Myths and Fairy Tales – November 2018 – August 2019.]

Verdi’s “Falstaff” at The Dallas Opera, Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” and Janacek’s “Jenufa” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Less Often Performed Repertory Operas – October 2018 – August 2019.]

Puccini’s “La Boheme” at the Houston Grand Opera and the Santa Fe Opera and Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Glimmerglass Festival [See In Quest of Italian Opera Favorites, October 2018-August 2019.]

Mozart’s “Idomeneo” at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” at the Los Angeles Opera and Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at the Houston Grand Opera [See In Quest of Mozart Operas (October 2018-April 2019)].

Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” at the Seattle Opera [See In Quest of Verdi Operas, March 2018-January 2019.]