Πέμπτη, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Ελληνορθόδοξη Παιδεία: Τι σημαίνει



Μητροπολίτη Σωτηρίου

Eλληνορθόδοξη παιδεία, κοντολογίς να πούµε, σηµαίναι αξιοπρέπεια στον εαυτό µας. Σεβασµός στους προγόνους µας. Αγάπη στην πατρίδα µας. Διορατικότητα. Σοβαρή και προγραµµατισµένη ενατένιση του µέλλοντος, για να µη χαθεί  η γλώσσα µας. Η φυλή µας. Ο πολιτισµός µας. Η αλήθεια της Ορθόδοξης πίστης µας.
Στον παγκόσµιο χάρτη σήµερα, η Ελλάδα γεωγραφικά είναι µια πολύ µικρή χώρα. Μικρή χώρα, αλλά µε ένδοξη ιστορία. Με απαράµιλλο πολιτισµό. Χώρα που έδωσε φως σε όλο τον κόσµο. Ποια άλλη χώρα στον κόσµο µπορεί να καυχηθεί για τόσο πανάρχαιο πολιτισµό; Για Οµήρους, για Σωκράτηδες, για Πλάτωνες; Για τόσο λογική και σωστή γλώσσα;
Η παγκοσµιοποίηση έρχεται µε όλα της τα αγαθά και όλα της τα κακά. Ολόκληρη η γη µε την πρόοδο της τεχνολογίας, ιδιαίτερα στα Μέσα Ενηµέρωσης, έχει γίνει µια γειτονιά. Μέσα σ’αυτή την παγκοσµιοποίηση -ίσως πολλοί δεν το καταλαβαίνουν- γίνεται µια φοβερή πάλη. Πάλη για την επικράτηση των ιδεών, των πολιτισµών, των γλωσσών. Δεν φαίνεται ότι τελικά θα επικρατήσει σε όλο τον κόσµο µία γλώσσα, αλλά εάν επικρατήσει, γιατί να µην είναι η Ελληνική, η οποία είναι η πιο σωστή και η πιο λογική.
Ξενητευτήκαµε για λόγους πολλούς και διάφορους. Δεν είναι του παρόντος να τους αναφέρουµε. Στις νέες πατρίδες να θυµούµαστε πάντοτε την στιγµή του αποχωρισµού µας από την Ελλάδα και την ευχή της µάνας µας. Τις σκέψεις που είχαµε τότε. Τις υποσχέσεις που δώσαµε.
Τα σηµερινά προβλήµατα της πατρίδας Ελλάδας είναι γνωστά σε όλους. Και το µεγαλύτερο πρόβληµα δεν είναι το οικονοµικό, όπως νοµίζουν οι πολλοί. Το µεγαλύτερο πρόβληµα είναι ο φιλαυτισµός των πολλών. Η έλλειψη αγάπης προς την Πατρίδα. Σεβασµού προς τους προγόνους. Αξιοπρέπειας στους εαυτούς τους.
Γραµµατισµένοι και Μέσα Ενηµέρωσης –όχι όλοι βέβαια- που θα έπρεπε να είναι οι φύλακες της γνησιότητας της ελληνικής γλώσσας, επιτρέπουν την νοθεία της. Όχι µόνο την επιτρέπουν, κάµνουν την νοθεία οι ίδιοι. Τους βλέπουµε και τους ακούµε καθηµερινά, στις τηλεοράσεις που φθάνουν κι εδώ στις µακρινές µας νέες πατρίδες.
Οταν βλέπεις και ακούς αυτά στα Ελληνικά Μέσα Ενηµέρωσης, πώς να συγκρατήσεις εδώ την νέα γενιά, τα παιδιά; Όταν είσαι επωµισµένος µε το µεγάλο καθήκον, να διδάσκεις την εκµάθηση της ελληνικής γλώσσας, την εµπέδωση της Ορθόδοξης Πίστης, την αγάπη στην Πατρίδα, τον σεβασµό στους προγόνους, αισθάνεσαι σαν τον Σίσυφο.
Τούτος ο λόγος σήµερα εκφράζει αγωνία. Κρούει τον κώδωνα του κινδύνου. Καλεί σε συναγερµό µικρούς και µεγάλους. Να δουλέψουµε όλοι πρέπει. Όχι για την διάσωση, αλλά για την επικράτηση του ελληνικού πολιτισµού. Για την επικράτηση του φωτός της Ορθοδοξίας που είναι η Αλήθεια προσωποποιηµένη.
Η φωνή µας είναι µικρή. Ίσως δεν θα την ακούσουν αυτοί που πρέπει. Συ όµως ο Ελληνοκαναδός, µείνε σ’ αυτά που διδάχθηκες και έµαθες. Θυµήσου αυτά που υποσχέθηκες φεύγοντας από την πατρίδα σου. Κράτησε και ζήσε την Ορθοδοξία σου. Κράτησε και χρησιµοποίησε την ελληνική σου γλώσσα. Φρόντισε να την διδάξεις στα παιδιά σου, στα εγγόνια σου, στους απογόνους σου. Έτσι µόνο έχεις πραγµατική αγάπη στη πατρίδα σου, την απαράµιλλη Ελλάδα. Σεβασµό στους προγόνους σου που εδοξάσθησαν και δοξάζουν και σένα. Αξιοπρέπεια στον εαυτό σου και αγάπη και σεβασµό στους απογόνους σου.
Ελληνορθόδοξε του Καναδα, µη πλανιέσαι από τις σειρήνες του κόσµου. Μείνε Ελληνορθόδοξος. Κράτησε τα παιδιά σου και τους απογόνους σου Ελληνορθοδόξους. Έτσι, όχι  µόνο δοξάζεις την πατρίδα σου, αλλά συνεχίζεις να είσαι φως του κόσµου. Βαδίζεις και οδηγείς στην κορυφή της πυραµίδας, στην σωτηρία. Πρόσεχε, µη αποκάµεις στον δρόµο. Η νίκη είναι δική σου. Καλή επιτυχία.
Με πατρική αγάπη και θερμές ευχές

Ο ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙΤΗΣ

Ο ΤΟΡΟΝΤΟ ΣΩΤΗΡΙΟΣ

Δευτέρα, 21 Ιανουαρίου 2013

FWOpera General Director Darren K. Woods to appear on KERA’s THINK

Announces Opera of the Americas: A Ten-Year Vision of Premieres
by Composers of the Americas.
Darren K. Woods, General Director of Fort Worth Opera (FWOpera) will appear on KERA’s widely
popular program Think—the daily topic driven and call-in radio show hosted by Krys Boyd—this afternoon, Monday, January 7, 2013, at 1:00 p.m. (CST). During this special hour long, in-depth interview he will discuss the recent announcement of the organization’s new artistic vision, Opera of the Americas, a ten-year commitment to the production of thought-provoking works by contemporary composers of the Americas.
Nationally announced this morning, Opera of the Americas is envisioned as a long-term, multi-phase initiative that will be launched in spring 2014 with the professional world premiere of With Blood, With Ink by composer Daniel Crozier and librettist Peter M. Krask. Following seasons will include the world premieres of A Wrinkle in Time by composer Libby Larsen and librettist Bradley Greenwald in 2015, and JFK  (working title) by David T. Little, composer, and Royce Vavrek, librettist, in 2016. As part of this mission, the 2014 Festival will also include the regional premiere of the 2012 Pulitzer-Prize winning Silent Night by composer Kevin Puts—in co-production with Minnesota Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Additionally, a second work by David T. Little and Royce Vavrek, the highly-acclaimed Dog Days—based on the short story of the same name by Judy Budnitz—will receive its regional premiere in co-production with Beth Morrison Projects within the first three years of Opera of the Americas. Contemporary programming selections for future seasons, as well as full festival announcements, will be made at a later date.
Audiences interested in learning more about FWOpera’s long-term artistic vision or about the productions announced as part of Opera of the Americas can listen live on 90.1 FM or online at http://www.kera.org/think/ and can submit questions or comments via telephone at 1.800.933.5372 or email at think@kera.org. Podcasts of each THINK episode are available for download at http://www.kera.org/podcasts/think/.
ABOUT KERA
KERA is a not-for-profit public media organization that serves the people of North Texas. The station broadcasts to the fourth-largest population area in the United States. KERA produces original multimedia
content, carries the best in national and international public television and radio programs, and provides online resources atwww.kera.org. The station’s extensive coverage of the arts can be found at www.artandseek.org. KERA-TV broadcasts on Channel 13.1. KERA WORLD broadcasts on 13.2. KERAFM broadcasts on 90.1 in Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton, 88.3 in Wichita Falls, 100.1 in Tyler and 99.3 in Sherman. The music station KXT 91.7 FM is also streamed online at www.kxt.org.
ABOUT FORT WORTH OPERA: Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually performing
opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of General Director Darren K. Woods since 2001, the organization has gained national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic quality and willingness to take risks. Known throughout the operatic world as a champion of new and rarely-performed works, the company has taken a leadership role in producing contemporary operas. In 2007, when the company changed its fall/winter schedule to a condensed one-month long Festival in the spring, FWOpera staged its first world premiere, Frau Margot; and followed up the next season with Angels in America (which resulted in More Life: the Art and Science of AIDS, a community-wide collaboration amongst organizations in the performing and visual arts, children’s education, medicine, and social services), Dead Man Walking in 2009, the world premiere of Before Night Falls in 2010, and Hydrogen Jukebox in 2011. The 2012 Festival staged the regional premieres of Mark Adamo’s Lysistrata and Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers, the first time the two composers’ works were co-programmed. The company’s CD recordings of Frau Margot and Before Night Falls are available on the Albany label.
Fort Worth Opera’s 2013 Festival season (April 20–May 12, 2013)
La Bohème (April 20, 28m, May 3, 11, 2013) - Puccini’s tragic drama of young love, (which Rent is loosely based upon), featuring renowned soprano Mary Dunleavy and up-and-coming Sri Lankan tenor Sean Panikkar in their company debuts as the ill-fated Mimì and her smitten poet Rodolfo; Puerto Rican soprano Rosa Betancourt, a FWOpera Studio alumna, as the saucy Musetta, and baritone Wes Mason as her jealous beau, the struggling painter Marcello. FWOpera Music Director Joe Illick conducts, with direction by David Lefkowich, who made his company debut with FWOpera’s critically acclaimed Il Trovatore in 2011.
The Daughter of the Regiment (April 27, May 5m, and 10, 2013)- Donizetti’s spirited switched-at-birth romantic comedy, featuring Texas soprano Ava Pine (Lysistrata, 2012), in the title role of Marie, and tenor David Portillo as her love interest, Tonio, (Don Giovanni, 2010). Bass-baritone Rod Nelman (Tosca and The Marriage of Figaro, 2012), sings Sergeant Sulpice, head of the 21st regiment. Renowned character mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle (The Turn of the Screw, 2003), returns as the Marquise of Berkenfeld, and FWOpera General Director and retired character tenor Darren K. Wood makes his company debut as the hapless butler Hortensius. Conductor Christopher Larkin (Three Decembers, 2012) conducts, with direction by Broadway and Hollywood veteran Dorothy Danner (Pirates of Penzance, 2004), a frequent conductor-director team who have led Daughter to great acclaim and laughter across the U.S.
Glory Denied (April 21m, 23, 24, 27m, 30; May 1, 4m, 7, 8, and 11m, 2013 – regional premiere) - American composer Tom Cipullo’s emotion-packed, landmark work based on the bestselling book by journalist Tom Philpott, of the tragic, true story of America’s longest-held Vietnam prisoner-of-war, Colonel Jim Thompson. Featuring Texas baritone Michael Mayes (Lysistrata, 2012) in role debut as Older Thompson; Caroline Worra in company debut reprising the role of Older Alyce; tenor David Blalock in company debut as the Young Thompson; soprano Sydney Mancasola in company debut as Young Alyce. Tyson Deaton, a longtime FWOpera pianist and in-demand collaborative recitalist, makes his company conducting debut. Also on the team are Dean Anthony, a former character tenor turned director directs; set designer Richard Kagey (Lysistrata, 2012), and Emmy Award-winning costume designer Stephen Chudej.
Ariadne auf Naxos May 4, 12m, 2013) – FWOpera’s first-ever production of Strauss’ entertaining and comedic opera-within-an-opera. Featuring soprano Marjorie Owens (Il Trovatore, 2011), as the Prima Donna, whose character Ariadne is wooed by the Greek god Bacchus, sung by tenor Corey Bix in his company debut; soprano Audrey Luna makes her company debut as Zerbinetta, and mezzo-soprano Cecelia Hall makes her company debut singing the pants role of the Composer. FWOpera Music Director Joe Illick conducts, and frequent FWOpera presence David Gately (Lysistrata, 2012) directs.
Frontiers, FWOpera’s, annual new works program, makes its debut during the 2013 Festival. The showcase will present eight unpublished works by composers from the Americas during May 6 – 11 of the 2013 Opera Festival in the McDavid Studio across from Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth http://www.fwopera.org/Frontiers/
Please note that the company’s 67th season and seventh festival is one month earlier than previous seasons as it moves to its new time. For more on all the information above, please visit www.fwopera.org or call 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372.
ABOUT FORT WORTH: Fort Worth boasts a unique mix of western culture, urban sophistication, and fine art. The city is home to world-renowned arts organizations such as the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Amon Carter Museum, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. On the other end of the spectrum, the city sponsors daily cattle drives through its Stockyards district, hosts equestrian and livestock events throughout the year, and is home to the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Downtown Fort Worth is a lively spot for residents and tourists; attractions include fine dining, shopping, night life, and the opera house, the acclaimed Bass Performance Hall.
http://www.fwopera.org

Opera Theatre of the Rockies Announces its 15th Anniversary Season

Opera Theatre Announces its 15th Anniversary Season

Who:               Opera Theatre of the Rockies
What:              15th Anniversary Season
When:              Oct. 1, 2012-September 30, 2013
Where:            Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, Armstrong Theater at Colorado College, and Other Smaller Venues in Colorado Springs
Tickets:           Tickets for Die Fledermaus will go on sale on January 11 at the Pikes Peak Center box office and all Tickets West outlets; by calling 719-520-SHOW (7469) or toll-free at 866-464-2626; Online at www.ticketswest.com.  Inquire about student, senior or group discounts.
For more information, please go to www.operatheatreof the rockies.org or call the Opera Theatre at 719-570-1950.   Watch for updated information about tickets for our other performances.
Opera Theatre of the Rockies has announced its exciting 15th Anniversary Season.  And 2013 is sure to offer something for everyone with a full calendar of operatic music planned.  Once again, Opera Theatre will produce two major operas.  The first production is Johann Strauss’ effervescent Die Fledermaus coming to the Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday evening, March 2 at 7:30 pm and Sunday afternoon, March 3, 2013 at 3 pm.  An audience favorite, this mainstay of the operetta repertoire is the fun-filled story of pranks, mistaken identity, glamorous parties, and laughter galore set in romantic Vienna.  First performed in 1874, Die Fledermaus is produced by opera companies across the globe and is remembered for its endearing tunes and Viennese waltz.
Back by popular demand and together again after a triumphant performance of Verdi’s La Traviata in March 2012, are heralded stars, Annamarie Zmolek and Joel Burcham, singing the lead roles of Rosalinde and Alfred.  Annamarie’s beautiful singing has been called “a voice that defines the art of the soprano, a gift from beyond, a sweet lyric tone that is musical at all times.” She is a true star on the rise and together with Joel once again, we anticipate no less than magic on stage.  Also returning this year is local favorite, Brittany Ann Robinson singing the role of Adele, fresh from “stealing the stage” in her heralded performance as Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme with Florida Grand Opera.
We also welcome to our company Drake Dantzler, tenor in the role of Eisenstein (Opera News says: “he has a voice of molten silver, immaculate musicianship, and an expressive stage persona”), and Christopher Clayton as Dr. Falke who has been praised for his “golden baritone” and “dynamic stage presence” as well as being lauded by the Salt Lake Tribune for his “charisma and warmth”.  Amber Markova will sing Prince Orlovsky, Brian Harris is Dr. Blind, Chad Reagan is Frank and Amy Mushall is cast as Ida.  Also exciting is the return of our highly praised conductor and director from 2012, Christopher Zemliauskas and Linda Ade Brand, respectively.  With last year’s La Traviata hailed as “the finest operatic orchestral performance ever given in the Pikes Peak Region,” this should be a superlative production of Die Fledermaus.
Spring and summer will bring us a number of exciting opera events such as the return of Marcia Ragonetti with Steven Taylor in a Cole Porter benefit concert on May 9.  We all remember the beauty of their performances in A Little Night Music.  Sparks will surely fly as they reunite for this special performance.
Southern Colorado’s opera company, Opera Theatre of the Rockies is also excited to include in this year’s packed season theVocal Arts Festival - a combining of already established professional opera singers with a Young Artist Intensive Training Program for aspiring singers in conjunction with Colorado College’s Summer Music Festival, set for July 8–August 4, 2013.  This newly restructured festival underlines Opera Theatre’s mission to feature gifted Colorado performers in professional productions, in addition to providing opportunities for younger singers to train with some of the country’s renowned teachers/performers and to gain actual stage experience.  This exciting offering features a fully-staged-scenes concert in July and a special performance as featured artists in the 2013 Colorado Springs Philharmonic Free Summer Outdoor Series.   The Vocal Arts Festival Ensemble’s featured performance, POP-era in the Park is generously underwritten by the Bee Vradenburg Foundation celebrating the legendary Bee Vradenburg and Charles Ansbacher.
The Festival culminates with Opera Theatre’s second major opera production, Robert Ward’s Pulitzer-prize winning opera,The Crucible on August 2 & 4, 2012 at Armstrong Theater.  Based on Arthur Miller’s celebrated play, this is a work of historic proportions.  Set in 1692 during the infamous Salem witch trials, accusations explode like fireworks in this fully staged opera production – the 17th Century version of “Girls Gone Wild”.  Be prepared to be transported back in time as Armstrong Theater on the Colorado College campus will be “turned” into Salem, Massachusetts as this riveting drama comes to life on Friday evening, August 2 and Sunday afternoon, August 4, 2013.  With a cast of 23 named roles, Opera Theatre’s amazing singer/actors will bring this exceptional score to life as never before.  Also familiar to Colorado Springs’ audiences, the wildly successful team of conductor, James Allbritten and stage director, Steven LaCosse, both from Piedmont Opera, Opera Carolina, and North Carolina’s famed School of the Arts will return for this powerful production.
Martile Rowland, Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ Founder and Artistic Director, says, “I’m so thrilled that Opera Theatre of the Rockies has reached this important milestone in presenting a full calendar of exciting musical events for its 15th Anniversary Season. The Pikes Peak Region has embraced Opera Theatre and all its talented singers through the years, performing in more than 22 different operas. This season is particularly noteworthy as we offer southern Colorado a wide range of unique opera productions including everything from a one act comedic work, Old Maid and the Thief, that successfully kicked off our Crystal Season this fall and a free community concert with The Colorado Springs Philharmonic to one of the most performed American operas in the repertoire. And we congratulate the Pikes Peak Opera League on their first annual Young Voice Competition coming up this spring.  This will be a year of extraordinary performance opportunities and we especially thank our opera family – our amazing company singers, hundreds of volunteers, our donors and supporters and especially, our dedicated audiences as once again, we make glorious opera music together.”
Tickets are on sale January 11, 2013 for Opera Theatre of the Rockies’ Die Fledermaus, so check your local listings and also the Opera Theatre web site at www.operatheatreoftherockies.org for more information. You may also call the opera office at 719-570-1950. Tickets are sold at all Tickets West outlets including the Pikes Peak Center Box Office, or by calling 719-520-SHOW (7469) or toll-free at 866-464-2626.  Or, you may also purchase tickets online at www.ticketswest.com.  Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups of more than ten people.

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Offers Opera Fans Worldwide the Chance to Win VIP Tickets and Travel Packages with New Video Competition

  • January 16, 2013 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has launched Opera Stories Revealed: Share Your Story and Win, a new competition designed to inspire audiences, artists, and fans to share their excitement about opera, in partnership with KMOX radio. The grand prize winner of the competition will receive VIP tickets to the opening night of Opera Theatre’s world premiere opera-in-jazz Champion, as well as a music travel package to New Orleans to hear Champion’s composer Terence Blanchard perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
    Opera lovers of all ages and all backgrounds have moving, surprising, and funny stories about opera. Through this contest, Opera Theatre and KMOX encourage those fans worldwide to share a personal video of one of those stories on the webpage www.OperaStoriesRevealed.com.  Videos can be captured on a smartphone or standard digital video camera and uploaded directly to the competition’s webpage. The story might be that of a first experience with opera, a favorite opera memory, falling in love with opera, how someone fell in love because of opera, or any other experience with opera that surprised or delighted. For inspiration, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has prepared a series of videos featuring the stories of current singers, staff members, and board members, which can also be viewed at www.OperaStoriesRevealed.com.
    Contestants will be able submit videos starting now through March 3, 2013. Through March 3, the public will be able to rate each video, helping to select the top ten finalists. From March 6 – 19, 2013, through online voting, audiences will be able to vote on their favorite video from among the top ten – with one vote permitted per day per email address. A grand prize winner and two runners up will be selected March 20, 2013.
    Grand prize winners will receive not only a VIP experience at the opening night of the world premiere of Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s Champion in St. Louis on June 15, 2013, but they will also enjoy the opportunity to hear five-time Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard perform live at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The New Orleans travel package features round trip air fare to New Orleans, two nights hotel accommodations, two days’ access to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and a pre- or post- concert meet and greet opportunity with Terence Blanchard. Two runners up will also receive a pair of tickets to the world premiere of Champion, and all top ten finalists will receive an autographed Champion poster signed by Mr. Blanchard.
    Opera Stories Revealed: Share Your Story and Win was developed in partnership with KMOX radio. As part of New Voices for Opera, a program designed to grow and deepen engagement in opera, the competition is generously funded with grants from Opera America’s Opera Fund and PNC Arts Alive. The support from PNC is part of a multi-year initiative to support visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement in new and innovative ways.
    “The PNC Foundation has a long history of providing grants to organizations that strengthen and enrich the lives of our communities,” said Rick Sems, the Regional President of PNC Bank.  “We understand that a rich arts community is a significant driver of our economic success, providing employment, boosting tourism, and making the region attractive for businesses, residents, and visitors.”
    Single tickets to Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season go on sale to the general public on Saturday, February 23, 2013. Subscriptions are currently available to all four operas in the season: The Pirates of Penzance, a double bill of Pagliacci and Il tabarro, the world premiere of Champion, and The Kiss. For more information on the upcoming season, visit www.ExperienceOpera.org. For more information on Opera Stories Revealed, including detailed rules, visit www.OperaStoriesRevealed.com.
    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday 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 Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee.  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 (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council


    
    Continue Reading
  • Opera Theatre announces New Works, Bold Voices

    Composers Terence Blanchard, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Jack Perla will each premiere new works beginning in the 2013 season
    October 29, 2012 – Timothy O’Leary, General Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, today announced a three-year cycle of world premiere operas by American composers, beginning with the company’s 2013 festival season in May.  The new operas are Champion by Terence Blanchard with libretto by Michael Cristofer (2013), Twenty-Seven by Ricky Ian Gordon with libretto by Michael Korie (2014), and Shalimar the Clown by Jack Perla, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie (2015).  The cycle is underwritten in part by a $1 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
    Casting for the cycle includes two of the world’s most acclaimed mezzo-sopranos, Denyce Graves in Champion and Stephanie Blythe in Twenty-SevenChampion is a co-commission with Jazz St. Louis.  Casting and collaborators for Shalimar the Clown will be announced at a later date.
    “Opera has lately entered an exuberant era of new works,” said Mr. O’Leary, “and Opera Theatre is excited to build on a 37-year tradition of adventurous programming. We call this cycle New Works, Bold Voices recognizing these tremendous composers, librettists, and singers, as well as the courageous characters they will depict.”
    Mr. O’Leary continued, “Music Director Stephen Lord, Artistic Director James Robinson, and I consider it central to Opera Theatre’s mission to present American works, telling compelling stories of the modern era, exploring our common humanity through the special power of music and theatre.  I am deeply grateful to Opera Theatre’s audience and generous supporters who make this work possible.”
    Champion is the first opera for Mr. Blanchard and Mr. Cristofer.  Mr. Blanchard is a five-time Grammy Award-winning jazz, film, and theatrical composer.  Mr. Cristofer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, as well as an award-winning filmmaker and actor.  Mr. Gordon and Mr. Korie have collaborated on operas before, including their acclaimed The Grapes of Wrath which was premiered at the Minnesota Opera and has been performed in concert at Carnegie Hall.  Mr. Perla is known for his wide-ranging compositional style including symphonic, choral, and chamber music, as well as work in multiple jazz idioms.  His one-act opera Courtside was presented by the Houston Grand Opera as part of its Song of Houston project for HGOco, and his chamber opera Love/Hate has been performed in a co-production by the Opera Center of San Francisco Opera and ODC Theater.
    At the completion of this cycle in 2015, Opera Theatre will mark its 40th anniversary season having produced 25 world premieres and 24 American premieres.  England’s Opera magazine recently described Opera Theatre as “one of the country’s most enterprising, off-centre festivals.  Indeed, it is hard to think of any other major opera festival on either side of the Atlantic that has so devoted itself to new work.”  Recent successes with works by composers John Adams, John Corigliano, Peter Ash, and Unsuk Chin have helped expand Opera Theatre’s audience, which is drawn from nearly 50 states and about a dozen foreign countries in addition to every zip code in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

    CHAMPION (2013)
    An opera in jazz
    Music by Terence Blanchard
    Libretto by Michael Cristofer
    June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, 30, 2013
     The Story
    Emile Griffith was a three-time world welterweight champion and twice a world middleweight champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s.  However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the title from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also his greatest personal tragedy.  The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover.  Paret would die ten days later.  For Griffith, who had never wanted to be a boxer, the impact of the fight was devastating, and his career soon went downhill.
    Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret had mocked Griffith with a derogatory term for homosexual.  Years later, Griffith’s sexuality was revealed after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.”  Much later in his life, beginning to suffer from dementia, Griffith met the son of his opponent, Benny Jr., who was two years old at the time of the match, and who forgave the aging champion.  In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a contemporary tragic hero – a story of strength, courage, rage, regret, and compassion.
    About Terence Blanchard
    Renowned for his work as a composer of hauntingly beautiful jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film, and stage, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards, including the 2007 Large Ensemble Grammy for “A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina).”  Most recently for film, he wrote the score to Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, which chronicled the story of the Tuskegee pilots and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr.  His music was also recently represented on Broadway with the score to Emily Mann’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Blair Underwood.  Champion is Mr. Blanchard’s first opera.
    About Michael Cristofer
    For playwright, filmmaker, and actor Michael Cristofer, the Champion libretto is also a first.  In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for The Shadow Box.  Mr. Cristofer’s other plays include Breaking Up, Black Angel, The Lady and the Clarinet which starred Stockard Channing, and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason, which received the American Theater Critics Award for Best Play in 1997.  His work on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Falling in Love, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and HBO’s Gia has earned him a Golden Globe, a Writer’s Guild Award, two Emmy nominations, and a best director award from the Director’s Guild of America.  Currently, he appears on the NBC drama Smash.
    More information on Champion, including the cast and artistic team, is available at http://www.opera-stl.org/about/news-press/2012/10/29/national-and-local-funders-provide-major-support-for-three-year-cycle-of-new-american-operas-in-st-louis/
    The commissioning and development of Champion were made possible with a leadership gift from the Whitaker Foundation and with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.
    The production of Champion is made possible with a leadership gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and generous support from the Whitaker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Phoebe Dent Weil.  New Voices for Opera, the audience development programming surrounding the project, is made possible by OPERA America’s Opera Fund and PNC Arts Alive.

    TWENTY-SEVEN (2014)
    Music by Ricky Ian Gordon
    Libretto by Michael Korie
    June, 2014
    The Story
    Twenty-Seven explores the story of Gertrude Stein’s life in Paris between World War I and World War II at her famous home at 27 Rue de Fleurus.  Destined to become a legendary author, poet, raconteuse, and patroness of the arts, Stein established in Paris one of the great salons of all time, hosting the most influential artists and personalities of her day.  She was particularly fond of those she dubbed “the lost generation” – a group of artists who came of age during World War I.  While they suffered its ravages, they also rose to the challenges of the interwar period to create many of the great works that defined the advent of Modernism.
    The role of Gertrude Stein will be the centerpiece of the opera, sung by renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe.  Ms. Blythe will be joined by a cast of four virtuosic singing actors who will change identities fluidly to portray those who surround Stein – from her brother Leo and her companion Alice B. Toklas to Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Juan Gris, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    About Ricky Ian Gordon
    American composer Ricky Ian Gordon has quickly emerged as a leading writer of vocal music that spans art song, opera, and musical theater.  Mr. Gordon’s songs have been performed and/or recorded by such internationally renowned singers as Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Nathan Gunn, Deborah Voigt, Elizabeth Futral, Judy Collins, Kelli O’Hara, Audra MacDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Nicole Cabell, the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Frederica Von Stade, Andrea Marcovicci, Harolyn Blackwell, and Betty Buckley, among many others.  Recent productions of his work include Rappahannock County with libretto by Mark Campbell, Sycamore Trees for which he is the composer and lyricist, The Grapes of Wrath with libretto by Michael Korie and Orpheus and Euridice (OBIE Award) for which he is the librettist.  Renee Fleming premiered the orchestral version of his Night Flight To San Francisco, a setting of Harper’s final monologue from Tony Kushner’s Angels In America in March, and his Green Sneakers for Baritone, String Quartet, Empty Chair, and Piano, for which he is also the librettist, will have its New York premiere at Lincoln Center on April 6th, 2013.

    About Michael Korie
    Michael Korie writes librettos to operas and lyrics to musicals.  His libretto to composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s The Grapes of Wrath premiered to acclaim at Minnesota Opera followed by productions at Los Angeles Disney Concert Hall, Utah Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and Carnegie Hall.  Librettos with composer Stewart Wallace include Harvey Milk (San Francisco Opera), Kabbalah (BAM Next Wave Festival) and Where’s Dick? (Houston Grand Opera). Lyrics include award-winning Broadway musical Grey Gardens, and this season’s Far From Heaven (Playwrights Horizons) and the UK production of Finding Neverland, all with composer Scott Frankel.  He teaches lyric-writing at Yale Drama School, and serves as an artistic advisor to emerging opera and theater composers and librettists at the American Lyric Theater and The Dramatists Guild.

    SHALIMAR THE CLOWN (2015)
    Music by Jack Perla
    Based on the novel by Salman Rushdie
    June, 2015
    The Story
    Shalimar the Clown is based on Salman Rushdie’s acclaimed novel of the same title.  Its themes of personal and political power and betrayal are played against the story of three generations of women, beginning in the “paradise lost” of rural Kashmir and culminating in late 20th century Los Angeles.  Shalimar is a young Muslim Kashmiri known for his gregarious personality and his skill as a tightrope walker.  His Romeo-and-Juliet romance with a Hindu girl named Boonyi manages to meet with approval from their families and their village, but the romance is shattered when an American ambassador begins an affair with Boonyi.  Shalimar goes on to train as an assassin and seeks revenge not only on the ambassador but also the child of the affair, a daughter named India, who lives in California.
    Mr. Rushdie’s novel was a finalist for the 2005 Whitbread Book Awards, and has been described as “Rushdie’s greatest novel since The Satanic Verses” by The Los Angeles Times.  The novel’s magic-realist world incorporates Mr. Rushdie’s signature humor, balanced by a thrilling, sinister ending, which offers a glint of hope in the form of an unanswered question.  Mr. Perla has recorded and performed with many well-known artists in the Indian tradition, and plans to create a score that blends the contemporary Western opera tradition with that of traditional Indian sounds, employing the tabla and sitar in the orchestra and the exuberance of Bollywood films for large choral scenes.
    About Jack Perla

    San Francisco-based composer Jack Perla has forged a reputation for writing engaging, sophisticated, and accessible works using a palette that includes symphonic, operatic, choral, and chamber music, as well as multiple jazz idioms.  In 2010, Mr. Perla was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera for a one-act opera with playwright Eugenie Chan, for Song of Houston. Courtside was the first in that series and led to a second commission for the final opera of the series, with author Chitra Banerjee Divarakuni.  Love/Hate, commissioned by American Opera Projects, premiered in 2012 in a co-production with the Opera Center of San Francisco Opera and ODC Theater.  Other commissions include Belongings, a new one act opera for the Seattle Opera with Atlantic writer Jessica Murphy Moo, and Pretty Boy, commissioned by the Paul Dresher Ensemble.  Mr. Perla has received awards from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, American Composers Forum, Zellerbach Fund, Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, James Irvine Foundation, American Music Center, Meet the Composer and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.  He is the 1997 recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composers Award, and earned his DMA at the Yale School of Music.

    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday 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 Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee.  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 (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.
     Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.
    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.



    
    Continue Reading
  • National and Local Funders Provide Major Support for Three-Year Cycle of New American Operas in St. Louis


    The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation leads support with $1 million commitment, which is the largest challenge grant for production support in the history of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
    October 29, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis General Director Timothy O’Leary announced today the award of a $1,000,000 challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of a three-year cycle of world premiere operas.  The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation provides grants on an invitation-only basis to a small number of leading performing arts companies in the United States.  The grant complements the local and national funds already secured for the first year of the cycle, including a $260,000 gift from the Whitaker Foundation to Opera Theatre and its commissioning partner, Jazz St. Louis, for the 2013 world premiere of Champion by five-time Grammy Award-winning composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer.
    This financial support from the Mellon Foundation will help enable Opera Theatre to expand American operatic repertoire through a cycle the company has entitled New Works, Bold Voices, which includes Champion (2013), Twenty-Seven by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie (2014), and Shalimar the Clown by composer Jack Perla based on the novel by Salman Rushdie (2015).  The attached release provides more information about the operas.
    The Mellon Foundation awards grants based on artistic merit and leadership, concentrating on companies that demonstrate a commitment to advancing an art form by presenting ambitious new works.  The Foundation’s gift to Opera Theatre is structured as a challenge grant: Opera Theatre’s goal is to raise an additional $1.5 million from its donor base to secure the Mellon Foundation’s $1 million challenge, the largest ever to support Opera Theatre’s productions.  Qualifying gifts must represent new or increased support, and must be designated for Opera Theatre’s productions in its 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons.
    “We are profoundly grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for this leadership support,” said Timothy O’Leary.  “From the beginning, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has been committed to opera as a living, breathing, contemporary art form.  We are excited to be presenting new works by great American composers and librettists – we believe in opera from and for our own time, and we deeply appreciate the generosity that makes this work possible.”
    Each season, about 25% of Opera Theatre’s contributed revenue comes from sources outside the St. Louis metropolitan area, including national foundations such as The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as members of Opera Theatre’s National Patrons Council.  Opera Theatre’s budget for 2013 is $9.2 million.
    The 2013 world premiere of Champion has already inspired considerable support from donors in St. Louis and beyond.  In addition to support from the Mellon Foundation, Opera Theatre has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.   Locally, the Whitaker Foundation’s leadership gift of $260,000 to Opera Theatre and its commissioning partner Jazz St. Louis provided the funding needed to launch Champion, helping to underwrite the commissioning and development of the piece, as well as the production itself.
    “When two organizations of the caliber of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis join forces on a single project, one needs to take notice.  Opera and jazz share much musically – from the talent of their creators to the passion of their audiences.  It is natural to be curious about how artists negotiate a common vision that guides their work. The Whitaker Foundation is pleased through our support to help enable this exciting collaboration,” says Christy Gray, Executive Director of the Whitaker Foundation, about the project. Further underwriting for the production is provided by a member of Opera Theatre’s board of directors, Phoebe Dent Weil.
    Champion also marks the start of New Voices for Opera, a program designed to grow new audiences for Opera Theatre, with an emphasis on building an audience as culturally diverse as the St. Louis community.  This effort is funded with grants from OPERA America’s Opera Fund and PNC Arts Alive.  The support from PNC is part of The PNC Foundation’s two-year, $1 million investment in St. Louis that supports visual and performing arts groups with the goal of increasing arts access and engagement in new and innovative ways.
    Opera Theatre’s announcement of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant came shortly after the company closed its books on the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012.  During the fiscal year, Opera Theatre increased subscribership, increased single ticket sales, achieved a record for new and diverse audiences, and exceeded its goals for both earned and contributed revenue.  In addition to artistic excellence, Opera Theatre is known for its tradition of fiscal health and stability, having operated for 37 years without accumulating a deficit.
    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday 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 Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee.  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 (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.  For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.
     Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts and Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council


    
    Continue Reading
  • Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    “Champion,” a co-commission with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis, will receive world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013
    Oct. 29, 2012 – Continuing their individual traditions of commissioning music that showcases the talents of the world’s best contemporary composers, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis have joined forces in the development of a new opera, featuring a powerhouse team of writers and performers.  With music by Terence Blanchard and libretto by Michael Cristofer, Champion blends the uniquely American tradition of jazz with the dramatic power of opera.  Based on the story of prizefighter Emile Griffith, the opera will star Denyce Graves, Arthur Woodley, Robert Orth, Aubrey Allicock, and Meredith Arwady.  Directed by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson and conducted by George Manahan, Champion will receive its world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013 as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season.
    The Story of Champion
    Emile Griffith was a three-time world welterweight champion and twice a world middleweight champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s.  However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the title from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also his greatest personal tragedy.  The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover.  Paret would die ten days later.  For Griffith, who had never wanted to be a boxer, the impact of the fight was devastating, and his career soon went downhill.
    Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret had mocked Griffith with a derogatory term for homosexual.  Years later, Griffith’s sexuality was revealed after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.”  Much later in his life, beginning to suffer from dementia, Griffith met the son of his opponent, Benny Jr., who was two years old at the time of the match, and who forgave the aging champion.  In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a contemporary tragic hero – a story of strength, courage, rage, regret, and compassion.
    The Cast of Champion
    Champion marks the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis debut for one of the world’s most acclaimed mezzo-sopranos, Denyce Graves, who originated the title role in Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner.  Ms. Graves sings the role of Emelda, Griffith’s mother. The cast is led by Arthur Woodley, distinguished for his portrayal of the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess world-wide, in the central role of Emile Griffith.  Aubrey Allicock returns to Opera Theatre to play Young Emile after performances as Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer in 2011 and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland in 2012.  Robert Orth, who has one of this country’s strongest pedigrees for originating roles in new American operas, plays trainer Howie Albert.  2012 Grammy Award-winner Meredith Arwady plays bar owner Kathy Hagen.  Rounding out the principal roles are Victor Ryan Robertson, doubling as Benny ‘The Kid’ Paret and Benny Jr. and Brian Arreola as Luis Rodrigo Griffith, Emile’s adopted son.
    The Creative Team for Champion
    Renowned for his work as a composer of hauntingly beautiful jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film, and stage, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards, including the 2007 Large Ensemble Grammy for A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina). Most recently for film, he wrote the score to Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, which chronicled the story of the Tuskegee pilots and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr.  His music was also recently represented on Broadway with the score to Emily Mann’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Blair Underwood.  Champion is Mr. Blanchard’s first opera.  “My father loved opera,” Mr. Blanchard says, “He was a baritone who studied opera, so it was impossible not to feel an emotional connection to him in writing Champion.  I was drawn to tell Emile’s story through music from the moment I first heard of his incredible journey.  I knew there was no other way to tell this story but through the unique power of opera.”
    For playwright, filmmaker, and actor Michael Cristofer, the Champion libretto is also a first.  In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for The Shadow Box.  Mr. Cristofer’s other plays include Breaking Up, Black Angel, The Lady and the Clarinet which starred Stockard Channing, and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason, which received the American Theater Critics Award for Best Play in 1997.  His work on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Falling in Love, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and HBO’s Gia has earned him a Golden Globe, a Writer’s Guild Award, two Emmy nominations, and a best director award from the Director’s Guild of America.  Currently, he appears on the NBC drama Smash. “Champion is the story of a man struggling to make peace with himself and to find his place in the world… as a fighter and a gay man,” Mr. Cristofer says.  “It’s the story of courage in the face of sexual oppression, of love in the face of hate, of grace in the face of physical and mental decline.  For me, Emile’s story not only asks the question of what it means to be a man. It asks what it means to be a human being.”
    Director James Robinson is one of America’s most sought-after opera directors, winning wide acclaim for productions that range from standard opera repertory to world premieres and rarely performed works.  Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Mr. Robinson has staged productions for major opera companies, including New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, and Seattle Opera.
    Conductor George Manahan continues an esteemed career embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary.  Currently Director of Orchestral Studies at the Manhattan School of Music and Music Director of the American Composers Orchestra, Mr. Manahan served as Music Director of the New York City Opera for fourteen seasons.  He has conducted for the New Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Opera National de Paris, and the Teatro de Communale de Bologna, among others.  In 2011, he was recognized by ASCAP for his “career-long advocacy of American composers and the music of our time.”
    Commissioning Partner and Underwriting
    Co-commissioning partner Jazz St. Louis has been an integral part of the creation and development of this opera.  Terence Blanchard has performed with Jazz St. Louis on many occasions, and through that relationship, Jazz St. Louis Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford introduced Blanchard to Opera Theatre.  “Terence Blanchard is among the best jazz composers and musicians living today. We believe that this new opera will be remembered as a major work in the decades to come, both for American jazz and for American opera, as it bridges the two audiences and art forms in a fresh and exciting way.” says Mr. Bradford.
    The commissioning and development of Champion was made possible with a leadership gift from the Whitaker Foundation, and with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America’s Opera Fund.  The production of Champion is made possible with a leadership gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and generous support from the Whitaker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Phoebe Dent WeilNew Voices for Opera, the audience development programming surrounding the project, is made possible by OPERA America’s Opera Fund and PNC Arts Alive.
    Performance Schedule
    Champion will be presented as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season (May 25 – June 30, 2013), which also includes Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Smetana’s The KissChampion will receive six performances, on June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 30, 2013.  Tickets to Champion are now available as part of a subscription to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Single tickets will go on sale February, 2013.

    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday 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 Christine Brewer, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Patricia Racette, Thomas Hampson, Jerry Hadley, Dawn Upshaw, Sylvia McNair, Erie Mills, Dwayne Croft, Kelly Kaduce, and Lawrence Brownlee.  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 (1992 – present) as music director.  Timothy O’Leary was named general director in October 2008 with acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham. For more information, visit ExperienceOpera.org.

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.

    About Jazz St. Louis

    Jazz St. Louis is on an incredible journey to advance the uniquely American art of jazz in St. Louis through live performance, education, and outreach. Each year, this non-profit organization presents over 270 performances on its internationally-acclaimed Jazz at the Bistro concert series. Artists appearing onstage at the Bistro regularly participate in one of Jazz St. Louis’s several education and outreach offerings. This unique, successful model sets the organization apart as an institution that presents jazz, educates future audiences, and nurtures budding musicians. Over 10,000 students are impacted each year by the organization’s work – all of which is offered free of cost to area schools and students. In this three-pronged approach, Jazz St. Louis maintains a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and artistic quality unmatched in its field.

    Jazz St. Louis gratefully acknowledges Wells Fargo Advisors as the presenting sponsor of the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 Jazz at the Bistro Series.

    Jazz St. Louis receives significant support from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Arts Alive, the Regional Arts Commission, the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, and the Whitaker Foundation.

    
    Continue Reading
  • OPERA THEATRE ACHIEVES MARKED GROWTH IN ATTENDANCE AND SALES DURING 2012 SEASON

    St. Louis, MO, June 27, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis general director Timothy O’Leary announced that the company’s 37th season yielded increased sales and continued growth in the size and diversity of its audience, a cornerstone of the company’s strategic plan adopted in 2009.
     The company’s Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season attracted 25,187 attendees, the highest in seven years.  Box office sales surpassed the budgeted goal of $1.8 million, with audiences once again traveling not only from every zip code in the metropolitan St. Louis area, but also from all corners of the United States and Canada, as well as at least a dozen foreign countries.
     Detailed box office results include the following:
    • Subscription sales increased by 5% over 2011, bucking a 16-year trend for Opera Theatre and overall national sales trends for performing arts organizations. Total subscription and single ticket revenue increased 18.3%. 

    • New audiences continued to grow over 2011’s record numbers, with first time households accounting for 29% of all attendees – up 6% in one year. First-time subscription households accounted for 16.5% of all subscription sales.

    • Young Friends admissions were up 132% over 2011’s record-setting participation, with all three in-season Young Friends events sold out and new, additional Young Friends programs added by popular demand.

    • Of first time audiences, 17.8% identified as being part of an ethnic minority (African-American, Latino, Asian-American, or multi-ethnic), marking substantial growth in the diversity of the Opera Theatre audience.

    Opera Theatre also experienced increased participation by several other measures this season:
    • 34 writers from national and international print and online publications came to review the Opera Theatre season, including the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times (London), Chicago Tribune, and the Dallas Morning News.

    • Opera Theatre’s Spring Gala, held on Saturday, May 5, raised a record $728,000 for the company’s annual fund and attracted nearly 450 guests. The event was chaired by Noémi Neidorff, with honorary chair Donna Wilkinson and co-chair Kara O’Leary.

    • Attendance in Opera Theatre’s education programs increased across all summer camps, with a 30% student increase at Opera Theatre’s annual Spring Training Vocal Camp for High School Students over 2011. Overall, Opera Theatre’s education programs reach 11,000 students from 21 school districts annually.

    The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season featured four productions from across four centuries – Mozart’s Così fan tutte (1791), Bizet’s Carmen (1875), Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd (1979), and the American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland (2007). The Chicago Tribune wrote, Having produced 22 world premieres and 23 first American performances in the course of its 37-year history, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis can make a plausible claim to being the go-to U.S. opera company when it comes to advancing new repertory.”
    Opera Theatre’s 2013 season opens on May 25, 2013 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and continues with the much-anticipated return of Kelly Kaduce in a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. In 2013, Opera Theatre will also produce its 23rd world premiere, Champion, an opera in jazz by five-time Grammy Award-winner Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cristofer. The season concludes with Smetana’s buoyant rarity The Kiss.

    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 2012 Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which may be the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company. Described by The Sunday 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 limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.  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.  Timothy O’Leary was named General Director in October 2008 with Stephen Lord continuing as music director and acclaimed stage director James Robinson succeeding Colin Graham.

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.

    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.


    
    Continue Reading
  • Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    Five-Time Grammy Award-Winning Composer Terence Blanchard and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright Michael Cristofer to Premiere New Opera at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
    “Champion,” a co-commission with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis, will receive world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013
    St. Louis, MO, May 16, 2012 – Continuing their individual traditions of commissioning music that showcases the talents of the world’s best contemporary composers, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis have joined forces in the development of a new opera, featuring a powerhouse team of writers and performers. With music by Terence Blanchard and libretto by Michael Cristofer, Champion blends the uniquely American tradition of jazz with the dramatic power of opera. Based on the story of prizefighter Emile Griffith, the opera will star Denyce Graves, Aubrey Allicock, Arthur Woodley, and Robert Orth. Directed by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson, Champion will receive its world premiere June 15 – 30, 2013 as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season.
    The Story of Champion
    Emile Griffith was a three-time World Welterweight Champion and twice a World Middleweight Champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s. However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the Welterweight Championship from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also one of his greatest personal tragedies. The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover. Paret would die ten days later.
    Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret mocked Griffith repeatedly with a derogatory term for homosexual. Years later, Griffith’s sexuality as a gay man was revealed to the public after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgiveable sin.” In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a great contemporary tragic hero – a man of strength and courage consumed ultimately by rage, regret, and the terrible consequences of his actions.
    The Cast of Champion
    Champion marks the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis debut for Denyce Graves, who originated the title role in Toni Morrison’s opera Margaret Garner. Graves sings the role of Emelda, Griffiths’ mother. The cast is led by Aubrey Allicock, returning to Opera Theatre to play Young Emile after performances as Mamoud in The Death of Klinghoffer in 2011 and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland in 2012. Arthur Woodley, distinguished for his portrayal of the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess world-wide, plays Old Emile. Robert Orth, who has one of country’s strongest pedigrees for originating roles in new American operas, plays Howie. Further casting will be announced in 2013.
    The Creative Team for Champion
    Renowned for his work as a composer of hauntingly beautiful jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film, and stage, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards, including the 2007 Large Ensemble Grammy for A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina). Most recently for film, he wrote the score to Lucasfilm’s Red Tails, which chronicled the story of the Tuskegee pilots and starred Cuba Gooding, Jr. His music is currently represented on Broadway with the score to Emily Mann’s new production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which stars Blair Underwood. Champion is Blanchard’s first opera. “My father loved opera,” Blanchard says, “He was a baritone who studied opera, so it was impossible not to feel an emotional connection to him in writing Champion. I was drawn to tell Emile’s story through music from the moment I first heard of his incredible journey. I knew there was no other way to tell this story but through the unique power of opera.”
    For playwright, filmmaker, and actor Michael Cristofer, the Champion libretto is also a first. In 1977, he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play for The Shadow Box. Cristofer’s other plays include Breaking Up, Black Angel, The Lady and the Clarinet which starred Stockard Channing, and Amazing Grace starring Marsha Mason, which received the American Theater Critics Award for Best Play in 1997. His work on such films as The Witches of Eastwick, Falling in Love, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and HBO’s Gia has earned him a Golden Globe, a Writer’s Guild Award, two Emmy nominations, and a best director award from the Director’s Guild of America. Currently, he appears on the NBC drama Smash. “Champion is the story of a man struggling to make peace with himself and to find his place in the world… as a fighter and a gay man,” Cristofer says.  “It’s the story of courage in the face of sexual oppression, of love in the face of hate, of grace in the face of physical and mental decline. For me, Emile’s story not only asks the question of what it means to be a man. It asks what it means to be a human being.”
    Director James Robinson is one of America’s most sought-after opera directors, winning wide acclaim for productions that range from standard opera repertory to world premieres and rarely performed works. Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Robinson has staged productions for major opera companies, including New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, and Seattle Opera.
    Commissioning Partner and Underwriting
    Co-commissioning partner Jazz St. Louis has been an integral part of the creation and development of this opera. Terence Blanchard has performed with Jazz St. Louis on many occasions, and through that relationship, Jazz St. Louis Executive Director Gene Dobbs Bradford introduced Blanchard to Opera Theatre. “Terence Blanchard is among the best jazz composers and musicians living today. We believe that this new opera will be remembered as a major work in the decades to come, both for American jazz and for American opera, as it bridges the two audiences and art forms in a fresh and exciting way.” says Bradford.
    The commissioning and development of Champion was made possible with a leadership gift from the Whitaker Foundation and with major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and OPERA America.  Support for the production of Champion is generously provided by the Whitaker Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Phoebe Dent Weil.  New Voices for Opera, the audience development programming surrounding the project, is made possible by OPERA America and PNC Arts Alive.
    Performance Schedule
    Champion will be presented as part of Opera Theatre’s 2013 Festival Season (May 25 – June 30, 2013), which also includes Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, a double bill of Puccini’s Il Tabarro and Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and Smetana’s The Kiss. Champion will receive six performances, on June 15, 19, 21, 25, 27, and 30, 2013. Tickets to Champion are now available as part of a subscription to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Single tickets will go on sale February, 2013.

    About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

    Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.            

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. 

    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.

    About Jazz St. Louis
    Jazz St. Louis is on an incredible journey to advance the uniquely American art of jazz in St. Louis through live performance, education, and outreach. Each year, this non-profit organization presents over 270 performances on its internationally-acclaimed Jazz at the Bistro concert series. Artists appearing onstage at the Bistro regularly participate in one of Jazz St. Louis’s several education and outreach offerings. This unique, successful model sets the organization apart as an institution that presents jazz, educates future audiences, and nurtures budding musicians. Over 10,000 students are impacted each year by the organization’s work—all of which is offered free of cost to area schools and students. In this three-pronged approach, Jazz St. Louis maintains a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and artistic quality unmatched in its field.

    Jazz St. Louis gratefully acknowledges Wells Fargo Advisors as the presenting sponsor of the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 Jazz at the Bistro Series.

    Jazz St. Louis receives significant support from the Arthur and Helen Baer Foundation, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Missouri Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, PNC Arts Alive, the Regional Arts Commission, the Trio Foundation of St. Louis, and the Whitaker Foundation.
    Continue Reading
  • Opera Theatre Responds to High Ticket Demand for 2012 Season, with Extra Carmen Performance Added June 19 at 8 p.m.

    Opera Theatre Responds to High Ticket Demand for 2012 Season, with Extra Carmen Performance Added June 19 at 8 p.m.
    Growth in subscription base and strong single ticket presale prompt added performance, bucking national sales trends
    ST. LOUIS – Less than two weeks before the start of the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season, Opera Theatre announces the addition of a new Carmen performance, to be offered Tuesday, June 19 at 8 p.m. The performance will help Opera Theatre meet strong demand for center orchestra seating during the run of Carmen. Currently, less than 4% of center orchestra seating and barely 1% of tickets in the $25 seating section remain available in the previously scheduled 9 performances of the opera. This is the first time in 8 years that Opera Theatre has added a performance to its festival calendar after tickets have gone on sale.
    “I’m thrilled that popular demand for Carmen has necessitated this additional performance,” says Opera Theatre General Director Timothy O’Leary. “Not only is Carmen the most popular opera in the history of the world, but this production in St. Louis is special because of its phenomenal cast, especially our home-grown international opera star Kendall Gladen in the title role.  Watching her and the rest of the cast in rehearsals, I am certain that once the opera opens, tickets will become scarcer still.”
    The added performance of Carmen is one reflection of the high demand for Opera Theatre tickets in 2012. Other early sales highlights of the 2012 Season include:
    • Season Subscriptions at this early date are up 2% over 2011’s end-of-season final numbers, both by total number of households and by total revenue. This reverses a multi-year trend of declining subscription volume for Opera Theatre, which has been consistent with a national decade-long trend subscription decline in the performing arts. The company will welcome its largest number of new or lapsed subscribers since the economic downturn in 2008, up 8% from 2011, while renewing 86% of its 2011 subscription base.
    • Young Friends Events are already 33% ahead in sales of 2011’s end-of-season final numbers. Young Friends Nights for Carmen and Sweeney Todd are already sold out. Tickets remain available for the Così fan tutte Young Friends Night on June 9, as well as a newly added Young Friends reception at Spotlight on Opera on May 14.
    • Illuminating Opera, a four-week April lecture series, exceeded total attendance by 31% and subscription volume by 47% over 2011. Normally only offered one morning per week, Illuminating Opera added an additional weekly Saturday series to meet demand.
    • Spotlight on Opera, a four-week panel discussion series which began on Monday, April 30, continues its growth in subscriptions – up 9% over 2011 and up 14% since 2010. Two more Spotlight events continue on May 14 and May 21.
    • Opera Theatre’s Spring Gala, held on Saturday, May 5, raised a record $727,000 for the company’s annual fund and attracted nearly 450 guests. The event was chaired by Noémi Neidorff, with honorary chair Donna Wilkinson and co-chair Kara O’Leary.
    Carmen opens the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season on Saturday, May 19th. Before the 8pm performance that evening, Opera Theatre offers a complimentary wine tasting to all opening night guests from 6:30 – 7:30pm under the tent in the Opera Theatre gardens. Carmen performances continue on May 23 at 8 p.m., May 25 at 8 p.m., May 31 at 8 p.m., June 8 at 8 p.m., June 10 at 7 p.m., June 13 at 1 p.m., June 16 at 8 p.m., June 19 at 8 p.m., and June 23 at 1 p.m. The season also includes Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd (opening Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m.), Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (opening Sunday, June 3 at 7 p.m.), and the much-anticipated American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland (opening Wednesday, June 13 at 8 p.m.) Tickets for all performances are available at ExperienceOpera.org or (314) 961-0644.
    About Opera Theatre
    Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.           
    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.
    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.
    Continue Reading
  • Wells Fargo Advisors Makes Lead Gift to Sponsor Opera Theatre of Saint Louis's 2012 Season

    Wells Fargo Advisors Makes Lead Gift to Sponsor Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’s 2012 Season
    The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season Will Open May 19

     St. Louis, MO, April 11, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is pleased to announce that Wells Fargo Advisors has given a leadership gift of $150,000 to sponsor the 2012 Festival Season.  Now in its third year, the sponsorship extends the company’s role as both the presenting sponsor of the spring festival season as well as a presenting sponsor of the annual spring gala.
    “Wells Fargo Advisors is committed to enriching the civic and cultural fabric of the St. Louis community and our support for Opera Theatre is an important part of that effort,” said Danny Ludeman, president and CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors.
    Throughout this time, Opera Theatre’s relationship with Wells Fargo Advisors has grown beyond the sponsorship and into the community. General Director Timothy O’Leary, said “We are thrilled and grateful about this ongoing partnership with Wells Fargo Advisors.  Not only do they help us bring world-class productions to the stage, but they also strengthen our community outreach and education programs, such as our recent joint event with the St. Louis Public School District featuring St. Louis’s own internationally-celebrated mezzo-soprano Kendall Gladen.”  In all, Opera Theatre’s education programs reach 11,000 school children in 26 school districts throughout the metropolitan area.
    The Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season at Opera Theatre opens on May 19 with rising sensation Kendall Gladen in Bizet’s Carmen and continues with Mozart’s sparkling comedy Così fan tutte and the company’s second Sondheim, his 1979 masterpiece Sweeney Todd. The season concludes with the much-anticipated American premiere of Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang’s Alice in Wonderland.   Full ticket prices begin at just $25, with special pricing available for as little as $15 for students and active members of the military.  For more information, visit www.ExperienceOpera.org.
    About Wells Fargo Advisors
     With $1.1 trillion in client assets as of December 31, 2011, Wells Fargo’s brokerage businesses are comprised of 15,263 full-service financial advisors and 3,548 licensed bankers.  This vast network of advisors, one of the nation’s largest, serves clients through offices in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Wells Fargo Advisors is the trade name used by two separate registered broker-dealers and non-bank affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company: Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC (members SIPC).  Statistics include other broker-dealers of Wells Fargo & Company.   www.wellsfargoadvisors.com
     About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
    Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2012, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.            
     Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors.
     Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.

    Continue Reading
  • Registration Open for Summer Camps at Opera Theatre

    Four weeks of programs for students grades 4-12 begin May 29
     St. Louis, MO, March 28, 2012 – Opera Theatre of Saint Louis has opened registration for its annual week-long summer camps – Opera Camp for students grades 4 – 8 and Spring Training, a vocal camp for high school singers. Both programs take place during the Wells Fargo Advisors 2012 Festival Season and include tickets for students to see a live performance of one of Opera Theatre’s internationally acclaimed productions. Each week of camp includes five full days of fun and music. Registration is $160 per week.
    Opera Camp
    Grades 4-8
    June 4-8, 2012 at City Academy in St. Louis
    June 18-22, 2012 at Edgar Road Elementary School in Webster Groves
    8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    In these week-long camps offered in two St. Louis-area locations, students grades 4-8 participate in all the things that go into Opera Theatre’s productions - including singing, dancing, writing words and music, making instruments, and learning about costumes and makeup, lighting and set design. Campers will also tour backstage, work with Opera Theatre professionals and leading music educators, and see a performance of the much-anticipated American premiere of Alice in Wonderland, by renowned Korean composer Unsuk Chin and Tony-award winner David Henry Hwang.
    Opera Camp is made possible by lead corporate sponsor Edward Jones and with generous support from Fox Performing Arts Foundation.
    Spring Training Vocal Camp
    Grades 9-12
    May 29-June 1, 2012
    June 4-8, 2012
    Community Music School on the campus of Webster University
    9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
     Students in these week-long camps will receive daily private voice lessons, vocal coaching, and classes in movement, acting, dance, and Alexander Technique. They also gain practical experience at afternoon mini-recitals, and attend an opera scene rehearsal and performance with Opera Theatre singers, a live performance of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd or Bizet’s Carmen, and classes in opera set design and makeup. Students are taught by faculty, including Jolly Stewart, Retired Director of Opera Programs at Washington University and Principal Stage Director at Union Avenue Opera, as well as staff members of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University, Webster University, and SIU-Edwardsville.
    Spring Training is underwritten by Monsanto Fund and is an extension of Opera Theatre’s nationally award-winning Monsanto Artists-in-Training program.
     Registration for both camps is limited and spaces are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. To register, contact Dan Mayo, Opera Theatre Education Assistant at (314) 963-4251 or 251@opera-stl.org.

    About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
     Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony.  As of 2011, Opera Theatre has presented 22 world premieres and 22 American premieres – which is perhaps the highest percentage of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.            
    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. 
    Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.


    Continue Reading
  • Opera Theatre Announces Casting for 2012 Spring Festival Season

    OPERA THEATRE 2012 SPRING FESTIVAL SEASON OPENS SATURDAY, MAY 19
     U.S. premiere of Unsuk Chin’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND highlights May 19-June 24 season
     With the return of many St. Louis favorites and debuts by international stars, Opera Theatre’s 2012 casts are filled with fresh and exciting talent.  The season begins with rising sensation Kendall Gladen in Bizet’s Carmen and continues with 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions winner Rachel Willis-Sørensen making her company debut as Fiordiligi and famed baritone James Maddalena returning as Alfonso in Così fan tutte.  Two-time Grammy nominee Rod Gilfry and Tony Award-winner Karen Ziemba make OTSL debuts as the conniving pair at the center of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  The 2012 season comes to a close with the return of Ashley Emerson as Alice in the American premiere of Alice in Wonderland, the captivating new opera by Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang.  In addition to 27 principal artists, 34 singers were chosen for the 2012 Gerdine Young Artist program, Opera Theatre’s renowned program for developing young artists.
     THE 2012 REPERTORY
    *Debut artist
     CARMEN (1875)
    Georges Bizet, Henri Meilhac, and Ludovic Halévy
    Nine performances: May 19, 23, 25, 31, June 8, 10, 13 (m), 16,  23 (m)
    Conductor: Carlos Izcaray*
    Stage Director: Stephen Barlow*
    Costume and Set Designer: Paul Edwards*
    Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
    Carmen – Kendall Gladen • Don José – Adam Diegel* •
    Escamillo – Aleksey Bogdanov • Micaëla – Corinne Winters • Zuniga – Bradley Smoak •Frasquita – Jennifer Caraluzzi* •
    Mercedes – Shirin Eskandani* • Remendado – Michael Kuhn* • Dancairo – Thomas Gunther* • Morales – Hernan Berisso*
     After over a century, Carmen remains perhaps the world’s most popular opera. This all-new production evokes a sand-swept, lusty Seville.  Carmen will be the first starring role at Opera Theatre for St. Louis’s own Kendall Gladen, whose blazing talent first emerged in Opera Theatre’s Monsanto Artists-in-Training program when she was only 16 years old.  Adam Diegel*, currently appearing as Froh in the Metropolitan Opera’s new staging of Das Rheingold, debuts as Don José.  Three former Gerdine Young Artists (GYAs) return to the stage in principal roles – Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Prize-winner Corinne Winters as Micaëla, Aleksey Bogdanov as the bullfighter Escamillo, and Bradley Smoak as Zuniga.  Stephen Barlow* and Carlos Izcaray* make St. Louis debuts as director and conductor.
     This production is underwritten in part with a leadership gift from Centene Corporation.

    SWEENEY TODD (1979)
    Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler
    Eight performances: May 26, 30, June 1, 7, 12 (m), 16 (m), 20, 24
    Conductor: Stephen Lord
    Stage Director: Ron Daniels*
    Set Designer: Riccardo Hernandez*
    Costume Designer: Emily Rebholz*
    Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
     Sweeney Todd – Rod Gilfry* • Mrs. Lovett – Karen Ziemba* •
    Anthony Hope – Nathaniel Hackmann* • Johanna – Deanna Breiwick* •
    Tobias Ragg – Kyle Erdos-Knapp* • Judge Turpin – Timothy Nolen•
    Beggar Woman – Susanne Mentzer • Beadle – Scott Ramsay* • Pirelli – Anthony Webb*
     Hailed in theaters and opera houses around the globe, this masterpiece of contemporary American music theater will be led by the powerhouse team of OTSL Music Director Stephen Lord and director Ron Daniels*.  Rod Gilfry*, whose opera credits include numerous roles at the Metropolitan Opera, makes his OTSL debut as Sweeney Todd.  Gilfry last performed the role in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtèlet, drawing praise from The New York Times: “Gilfry sings magnificently as Todd and invests the character with an almost wholesome candor, that, through it all, keeps one mindful of the barber’s vulnerability.”  (Ron Raines, previously announced in the role, has withdrawn due to a scheduling conflict with the opening of the Broadway production of Follies in Los Angeles.)  Karen Ziemba*, who received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Contact at Lincoln Center Theatre, debuts as his partner-in-crime, the batty Mrs. Lovett.  Acclaimed opera stars Susanne Mentzer (Beggar Woman) and Timothy Nolen (Judge Turpin) both make highly-anticipated returns to the OTSL stage. The cast also includes debuts by Nathaniel Hackmann* (Anthony Hope), Deanna Brewick* (Johanna), Kyle Erdos-Knapp* (Tobias Ragg), Scott Ramsay* (Beadle), and Anthony Webb* (Pirelli).

    COSÌ FAN TUTTE (1790)
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte
    Six performances: June 3, 6, 9, 14, 20 (m), 22
     Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni
    Stage Director: Michael Shell
    Set and Costume Designer: James Schuette
    Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
    Fiordiligi – Rachel Willis-Sørensen* • Dorabella – Kathryn Leemhuis • Ferrando – David Portillo  
    Guglielmo – Liam Bonner • Despina – Jennifer Aylmer • Alfonso – James Maddalena
     This shimmering romantic comedy features Mozart’s most unabashedly beautiful score and is the finale to OTSL’s cycle of Mozart and Da Ponte’s great operas.  Rachel Willis-Sørensen* and former Gerdine Young Artist Kathryn Leemhuis (Zerlina in 2011’s Don Giovanni) match wits with Liam Bonner (Pelléas in OTSL’s 2011 season) and David Portillo (Don Ottavio in 2011’s Don Giovanni), as Cosìs star-crossed lovers.  Jennifer Aylmer is the cunning maid Despina and James Maddalena is Alfonso.  Michael Shell directs and Canada’s Jean-Marie Zeitouni conducts.  “His dynamically nuanced… approach to the score [was] filled… with the kind of vitality that transcends centuries of cultural change,” said The Toronto Star.
     Opera Theatre’s 3-year Mozart/Da Ponte cycle is made possible with leadership support from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee, and The Commerce Trust Company.

    ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2007)
    American Premiere 

    Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang
    Six performances: June 13, 15, 17, 19 (m), 21, 23

    Conductor: Michael Christie
    Stage Director: James Robinson
    Set Designer: Allen Moyer
    Costume Designer: James Schuette
    Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
    Alice – Ashley Emerson • Cheshire Cat – Tracy Dahl • Mad Hatter/Duck – Aubrey Allicock •
    White Rabbit– David Trudgen • Queen of Hearts – Julie Makerov* •
    Mouse/ Dormouse/Pat/Invisible Man – Matthew DiBattista •King of Hearts – Bradley Smoak •
    Caterpillar/ Mock Turtle (dancer) – Seán Curran •Caterpillar (bass clarinet) – James Meyer*
     Unsuk Chin’s dazzling musical invention finds captivating new voices for familiar friends in an unforgettable journey down the rabbit hole.  Ashley Emerson, who received glowing reviews for her 2011 performance as Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment, stars as Alice. “Armed with a bright smile… and a gift for physical comedy, Ms. Emerson was captivating,” wrote The New York Times.  The production features former Gerdine Young Artist Aubrey Allicock as the Mad Hatter, Matthew DiBattista as the Dormouse (both featured in 2011’s The Death of Klinghoffer), Tracy Dahl as the Cheshire Cat, and David Trudgen as the White Rabbit (both featured in 2010’s The Golden Ticket). Making a much anticipated debut as the Queen of Hearts is Julie Makerov*, with Bradley Smoak (2011’s Masetto in Don Giovanni) as the King of Hearts.  Choreographer Seán Curran dances the role of the Caterpillar.
     Made possible with a leadership gift from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and with generous support from The Saigh Foundation and the Fred M. Saigh Endowment at Opera Theatre.  Major production support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whitaker Foundation, and Phoebe Dent Weil.
     Subscriptions to all four operas may currently be purchased in person at the Opera Theatre box office or by phone at (314) 961-0644 or online at ExperienceOpera.org.  Tickets in a subscription package range from $37.50 to $93.50, a savings of at least 25% off the cost of single tickets.

    About Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
    Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the leading American festival opera companies, known for a spring season of inventive new productions, sung in English, featuring the finest American singers and accompanied by members of the St. Louis SymphonyAs of 2012, Opera Theatre will have presented 22 world premieres and 23 American premieres – which is one of the highest percentages of new work in the repertory of any U.S. company.  Described by The Sunday Times of London as “one of the few American companies worth the transatlantic fare,” and by Opera Today as “the leading summer opera destination in the United States,” Opera Theatre of Saint Louis welcomed visitors from 45 states and 12 foreign countries in 2011.  Although the size of the theater limits box office income to 26% of the budget, the company has consistently produced work of the highest quality while never accumulating a deficit.  OTSL’s general director is Timothy O’Leary; Stephen Lord is music director and James Robinson is artistic director.

    Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2012 season presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Advisors. 
     Opera Theatre is a sustaining member of the Arts & Education Council of Greater Saint Louis, and receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Missouri Arts Council.