Newfound verve drives San Diego Opera’s next season

From the southern end of the Southland, we hear tell of pirates, two composers’ last operas, two works set in South America, a starry recital, and a new venue in the mix — all definite signs that one of SoCal’s cherished endeavors is more than just “alive and kicking”.

Continuing their trek back from the near-dead a few years ago, San Diego Opera has announced a new season that takes some contemporary risks, veers further away from the tried-and-true, and brings the respected company back into the fray of relevant and modern production. The works presented will be familiar to avid SoCal operagoers, and offers an additional chance to catch some of the best of what contemporary composers have to offer.  This is the first season planned by SDO’s new and fearless leader, David Bennett, who became the company’s general manager in 2015, and had already made a name for himself as a creative head in his previous posts at Gotham Opera and Dance New Amsterdam, both in New York City.  This season shows the spirit that we’d hope Bennett could infuse into the company and the surrounding area, and additional hope for SDO’s sunny future.

Watch for artist debuts, already beloved modern works by Daniel Catán and Ástor Piazzolla, Puccini’s most gutsy opera, some classic Gilbert & Sullivan, and the company’s annual celeb recital.  Welcome back, San Diego.

Press release follows.


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San Diego, CA – Bold productions, timeless classics, and topical and relevant operas comprise San Diego Opera’s diverse 2017-2018 season. The Company will continue to present three main stage operas at the San Diego Civic Theatre and will expand the theaters it performs in for the dētour Series which premiered last year and is dedicated to exploring lesser known operas and works.

San Diego Opera presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE in October, 2017. Photo by Jeff Roffman for The Atlanta Opera.

The Company’s Main Stage season starts October 14, 2017 with The Pirates of Penzance and continues on February 18, 2018 with Turandot. The Main Stage season will close after performances of Florencia en el Amazonas which opens March 17, 2018. The Company’s dētour Series will open on November 10, 2017 with As One at the the Joan B. Kroc Theatre. The series continues in the new year on January 26, 2018 at the Lyceum Theatre with Maria de Buenos Aires [pictured above] and closes with a special one-night-only concert at the Balboa Theatre with tenor René Barbera and soprano Lise Lindstrom with the San Diego Symphony on Saturday May 5, 2018.

San Diego Opera’s ongoing commitment to presenting the best singers in the world continues with the debuts of many important singers including tenor Carl Tanner, soprano Angel Joy Blue, bass Brian Kontes, soprano Elaine Alvarez, mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock and mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala. Returning singers include bass-baritone Greer Grimsely, soprano Lise Lindstrom, bass Patrick Carfizzi, and tenor René Barbera. Conductors for the season include Valerio Galli, Evan Rogister, and Bruce Stasyna in their house conducting debuts, and Joseph Mechavich in a return to the podium. Stage directors include Candice Evans and Kyle Lang in their Company directing debut, and the return of stage directors Seán Curran and Keturah Stickann.

Soprano Lise Lindstrom returns to sing the title role in Puccini’s Turandot. Photo by San Diego Opera.

“This is the first season I’ve planned in its entirety as General Director of San Diego Opera,” shares David Bennett. “And in doing so, I believe I’ve programmed a season that builds on the Company’s traditions and embarks on a new chapter of discovery with exciting and relevant works.

The Main Stage season opens with the Company’s first foray into operetta with Gilbert and Sullivan’s beloved and family-friendly Pirates of Penzance, featuring the return of local favorite Greer Grimsley in the role of the Pirate King. This time he will be joined by his real-life wife Luretta Bybee as Ruth and their daughter Emma Grimsley as Mabel, both performing in San Diego for the first time,” continues Bennett.

“The season will move to a new theater, the Joan B. Kroc Theatre in the Rolando district of San Diego, for the first offering of our dētour Series: As One, an important new chamber opera that is being performed around the world that looks at the current issue of transgender identity with honesty, grace, humor and beautiful singing.

The dētour Series continues with performances of Ástor Piazzolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires at the Lyceum Theatre. Maria tells a story of a woman who is seduced by the underworld of Buenos Aires where the boundaries of religion, dance and redemption blur with the pulse of tango. It’s an opera I’ve wanted to bring to San Diego since I came here and I am delighted to introduce it to local audiences.

The Main Stage season continues with Puccini’s masterpiece Turandot, in a production that is totally new to local audiences. We’re happy to welcome the return of the world’s preeminent Turandot, Lise Lindstrom. She’ll be joined by tenor Carl Tanner as her Calàf and local soprano Angel Joy Blue as Liù in long anticipated Company debuts.

The Main Stage season will conclude with a welcome return of the work of late Mexican-American composer Daniel Catán as we present Florencia en el Amazonas, his ode to the romance and magic realism of the great author Gabriel García Márquez. San Diego Opera was the first North American Company to present Catán’s work with his first opera, Rapaccini’s Daughter, so we are delighted to now present his most-performed opera, filled with lush melodies reminiscent of Puccini, with an all-Spanish-speaking cast of incredible singers.

Rene Barbera and Lise Lindstrom

The season ends with a special one-night-only concert of operatic favorites with soprano Lise Lindstrom and tenor René Barbera and members of the San Diego Symphony at the Balboa Theatre. With it, we honor old friends such as Ms. Lindstrom, and welcome back newer friends like Mr. Barbera who made his debut with us during our 50th Anniversary Celebration and returned in 2016 for his North American Recital debut.”

The Main Stage season opens on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 7 PM at the Civic Theatre with Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera The Pirates of Penzance which tells the story of a duty-bound pirate coming of age after a 21-year apprenticeship, or perhaps not, since he was born on leap day. The Pirates of Penzance features the return of San Diego Opera favorite bass-baritone Greer Grimsley as the Pirate King. He will be joined by his real-life wife, the mezzo-soprano Luretta Bybee, in her Company debut as Ruth. The two of them will be joined by their real-life daughter, soprano Emma Grimsley, also in her Company debut, as Mabel. Returning bass-baritone Patrick Carfizzi, last seen as Henry Kissinger in 2014’s Nixon in China, returns as Major-General Stanley. Stage Director Seán Curran returns to stage the production and conductor Evan Rogister makes his Company debut leading the orchestra.  The Pirates of Penzance will be sung in English with English text projected above the stage. Additional performances are October 17, 20, and 22 (matinee), 2017.

The season continues on Friday, November 10, 2017 at 7 PM at the Joan B. Kroc Theatre with Laura Kaminsky’s beautiful chamber opera, As One, as part of the dētour Series. This contemporary opera explores Hannah’s transgender identity using two voices – a baritone and a mezzo-soprano – as well as humor and empathy. The libretto follows Hannah’s youth and the challenges she faces growing up in a small town and her struggles with her family, to her discovery of a larger transgender community and the ultimate acceptance of her true self. Baritone Kelly Markgraf makes his Company debut in the role of Hannah Before. He is joined by mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert, also in a Company debut, in the role of Hannah after. Making his San Diego Opera directing debut is Kyle Lang and making his San Diego Opera conducting debut is Bruce Stasnya, the Company’s current Chorus Master. As One will be performed in English with English text above the stage. Additional performances are Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12(matinee), 2017. Please note: the matinee on Sunday, November 12 starts at 1 PM.

San Diego Opera moves to the Lyceum Theatre for its second offering of the dētour Series of the season when it presents Ástor Piazzolla’s tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires which opens on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 7 PM. Maria de Buenos Aires tells the story of Maria, born in the slums “on a day when God was drunk.” Maria de Buenos Aires tells the story of Maria, born in the slums “on a day when God was drunk.” Seduced by the underworld of Buenos Aires and the music of tango, Maria’s physical and spiritual worlds unite in a surrealist blur as she searches for redemption.

Mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock makes her Company debut as Maria and is joined by baritone Paul La Rosa, last seen as Enrique in 2015’s El Pasado Nunca se Termina, who returns as Payador. Making his Company stage director debut is John de los Santos who will bring his expertise of choreography to this tango influenced production. Maria de Buenos Aires will be performed in Spanish with English translations above the stage. Additional performances are Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28 (matinee), 2018.

The Company’s Main Stage season will continue on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the Civic Theatre with Puccini’s Turandot. Turandot is tale of mystery, intrigue and ultimately the triumph of love set in Imperial China and marks the anticipated return of soprano Lise Lindstrom in her signature role as princess Turandot, a role performed here in 2011 and on all the world’s leading stages. Joining her in a Company debut is Carl Tanner as Calàf. Also joining the cast in Company debuts are mezzo-soprano Angel Joy Blue as Liù and bass Brian Kontes as Timur. Valerio Galli, recently named “Best Italian Conductor Under 40” by La Stampa newspaper, makes his Company conducting debut for these performances. Stage director Keturah Stickann stages the drama. Turandot will be sung in Italian with English translations above the stage. Additional performances are February 27, March 2, and March 4 (matinee), 2018.

San Diego Opera presents Daniel Catan’s FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS in March, 2018. Photo by Rafael W. Porto.

San Diego Opera is proud to present the Company premiere of Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas on Saturday, March 17, 2018 as the final opera of the Main Stage season at the San Diego Civic Theatre. San Diego Opera was an early supporter of Mr. Catán, producing his opera Rappacini’s Daughter in 1994, making it the first Mexican opera produced by a professional opera company. These performances here in San Diego led Houston Grand Opera to commission Florencia en las Amazonas, an ode to magic realism that follows an opera singer’s return to her home town. As she journeys on the Amazon, she hopes to be reacquainted with her true love who has since vanished. An all-Spanish speaking cast brings this opera to life and marks a series of important Company debuts including soprano Elaine Alvarez as Florencia Grimaldi, soprano Maria Fernanda Castillo as Rosalba, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala as Paula, and baritone Luis Alejandro Orozco as Riolobo. Tenor Daniel Montenegro makes his welcome return as Arcadio, last seen as Luis in 2015’s El Pasado Nunca se Termina. Conductor Joseph Mechavich makes his return to the podium for these performances that are directed by Candace Evans in her house debut. Florencia en el Amazonas will be sung in Spanish with English translations above the stage. Additional performances are March 20, 23, and 25 (matinee), 2018.

The 2017-2018 Season comes to a close with a special one-night-only celebration concert called “One Amazing Night” on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the Balboa Theatre with soprano Lise Lindstrom and tenor René Barbera as they perform a selection of opera favorites and romantic duets with the San Diego Symphony.

“While this season we branch out to new neighborhoods through performances and outreach efforts, it is equally important that we offer our performances at prices the community can afford,” adds David Bennett. “That is why there will be no price increase this season, with tickets as low as $25 for the dētour Series and $38 for our Main Stageoperas. This means an entire season of five operas and a concert can be seen for as little as $189.”

Only subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are now on sale. A subscription for the three Main Stage operas begins at a low $114. A subscription for the three dētour Series events start at $75. Subscriptions start at $189 for a full series including the three Main Stage operas (The Pirates of Penzance, Turandot, and Florencia en el Amazonas), and the dētour Series (As One, Maria de Buenos Aires, and René Barbera and Lise Lindstrom in concert). Single tickets will go on sale later in the summer. Casts and repertoire are subject to change.

Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.

Military discounts (active and retired) of 50% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Military discounts of 50% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.


San Diego Opera’s 2017-2018 Season

  • The Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert and Sullivan’s delightful comic opera about a duty-bound pirate coming of age

October 14, 17, 20, and 22 (matinee), 2017  (San Diego Civic Theatre)

  • As One

Laura Kaminsky’s exploration of transgender identity in an intimate chamber opera.

November 10, 11, and 12 (matinee, 1PM), 2017  (The Joan B. Kroc Theatre)

  • Maria de Buenos Aires

Ástor Piazzolla’s sultry tango opera about seduction and redemption in the City of Buenos Aires.

January 26, 27, and 28 (matinee), 2018  (Lyceum Theatre)

  • Turandot

Puccini’s classic opera returns starring soprano Lise Lindstrom in the title role and the Company debuts of tenor Carl Tanner as Calàf and soprano Angel Joy Blue as Liù.

February 24, 27, March 2, and 4 (matinee), 2018  (San Diego Civic Theatre)

  • Florencia en el Amazonas

Daniel Catán’s ode to the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez about an opera singer returning home and trying to recapture her first true love.

March 17, 20, 23, and 25 (matinee), 2018  (San Diego Civic Theatre)

  • “One Amazing Night” – René Barbera and Lise Lindstrom in Concert with the San Diego Symphony

May 5, 2018  (The Balboa Theatre)

  • Full Season Subscriptions Starting at $189 

 

Purchasing Tickets

Only subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are now on sale. A subscription for the three Main Stageoperas begins at a low $114. A subscription for the three dētour Series events starts at $75. Subscriptions start at $189 for a full series including the three Main Stageoperas and the dētour Series operas and concert. Single tickets will go on sale in the summer. Casts and repertoire are subject to change.

Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Senior citizen discounts of 15% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.

Military discounts (active and retired) of 50% are available to the Main Stage series on Tuesday and Friday subscription packages. Military discounts of 50% are available to the dētour Series on Saturday subscription packages.

For information about single tickets please visit www.sdopera.org. Single ticket prices will be announced in the summer.

www.sdopera.org

San Diego Opera 2017-2018 Season Performance Schedule

The Pirates of Penzance

Gilbert and Sullivan

San Diego Civic Theatre

Main Stage Series

Saturday               October 14, 2017                 7:00pm

Tuesday                October 17, 2017                 7:00pm

Friday                    October 20, 2017                 7:00pm

Sunday                  October 22, 2017                 2:00pm

 

As One

Laura Kaminsky

The Joan B. Kroc Theatre

 dētour Series

Friday                    November 10, 2017            7:00pm

Saturday               November 11, 2017            7:00pm

Sunday                  November 12, 2017            1:00pm

Maria de Buenos Aires

Ástor Piazzolla

The Lyceum Theatre

dētour Series

Friday                    January 26, 2018                7:00pm

Saturday               January 27, 2018                 7:00pm

Sunday                  January 28, 2018                2:00pm

Turandot

Giacomo Puccini

San Diego Civic Theatre

Main Stage Series

Saturday               February 24, 2018                7:00pm

Tuesday                February 27, 2018                7:00pm

Friday                    March 2, 2018                     7:00pm

Sunday                  March 4, 2018                     2:00pm

Florencia en el Amazonas

Daniel Catán

San Diego Civic Theatre

Main Stage Series

Saturday               March 17, 2018                   7:00pm

Tuesday                March 20, 2018                   7:00pm

Friday                    March 23, 2018                   7:00pm

Sunday                  March 25, 2018                   2:00pm

René Barbera and Lise Lindstrom in Concert with the San Diego Symphony

The Balboa Theatre

dētour Series

Saturday               May 5, 2018                   7:00pm

 

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Featured image, top:  San Diego Opera presents Ástor Piazzolla’s “tango opera” MARIA DE BUENOS AIRES in January, 2018, as part of the Shiley Detour Series. Photo by Jeff Roffman for The Atlanta Opera.

 

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