Opera Philadelphia in 2021/22

Opera Philadelphia announces ‘live and digital’ 2021-2022 season

Building on the success of its acclaimed 2020-2021 season, described by The New York Times as ‘laying claim to the mantle of making new material during the pandemic’, Opera Philadelphia has announced plans for an untraditional 2021-2022 season. Eliminating the time constraints of what constitutes an ‘opera season’, the Opera Philadelphia Channel will continue to stream original films, archival performances and new programming year-round.

Acclaimed films of David T. Little’s Soldier Songs and Tyshawn Sorey’s Cycles of My Being, as well as world premiere commissions like Sorey’s Save the Boys, Angélica Negrón’s The Island We Made and Caroline Shaw’s We Need to Talk, will continue to be available on-demand along with a series of digital commissions from three composers to be announced at a later date.

They will be joined by new films of Francis Poulenc’s La voix humaine, starring soprano Patricia Racette and directed by James Darrah, and Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón, starring bass-baritone Sir Willard White and directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges and Jorge Cousineau. A concert film and documentary will bring audiences a fresh perspective on Glass Handel, created in 2018 by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo in collaboration with producer Cath Brittan and avant-garde fashion/art company Visionaire.

Additional programming includes the digital premiere of The Drama of Tosca on 17 June, starring soprano Ana María Martínez, tenor Brian Jagde and baritone Quinn Kelsey; and Organ Stops in July 2021, a performance piece celebrating the Reflection & Re-Vision series, which continues to look deeper into the opera genre by exploring its musical and theatrical elements as well as cultural, social and historical perspectives. New programming will be announced throughout the year.

While the channel remains an ongoing and active digital stage, Opera Philadelphia will also bring live performances to audiences at three celebrated Philadelphia music venues: the outdoor Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park; Verizon Hall inside the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts; and the historic Academy of Music, Opera Philadelphia’s longtime home for grand opera productions. The three very different live performances produced in these contrasting venues will all be connected by the leadership of Music Director Corrado Rovaris and the talents of the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus.

Tenors Lawrence Brownlee and Michael Spyres team up for the American premiere of Amici e Rivali, a pre-season concert of Rossini arias and vocal fireworks on 26 August at the Mann. Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and George Walker’s Lilacs form a concert program to be presented on 21 & 23 January 2022 at Verizon Hall, featuring soloists William Burden, Rehanna Thelwell and Mark S. Doss. The concerts spotlight the talents of the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus.

Lilacs, by American composer George Walker (1922-2018), is a setting of the Walt Whitman poem, ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d’, a poignant reflection on the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, scored for soprano soloist and orchestra. Premiered in 1996 in Boston, Lilacs was honored with that year’s Pulitzer Prize for Music, making Walker the first Black composer to win the award. His trailblazing series of firsts included being the first Black graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, the first Black pianist to play a recital at New York’s Town Hall and the first Black instrumentalist to play solo with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

The season will culminate with Opera Philadelphia’s return to the Academy of Music for the first time in more than two years with four performances of Verdi’s Rigoletto in April 2022.

The 2021-2022 season is a first step towards returning to a new normal at Opera Philadelphia, as we get back to bringing audiences and artists together for live performances while also integrating cinematic work into our ongoing exploration of the future of opera’, said David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia. ‘With music, artists and storytelling at the center of all activity, this season offers opera lovers both near and far an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of revelatory operatic experiences that remind us both why we love this art form and how it continues to evolve in the twenty-first century’.

Rick Perdian

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