The festival opens on May 18 at Cincinnati's Music Hall, with Conlon conducting the May Festival Chorus, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, soprano Ellie Dehn, tenor John Aler and baritone Brian Mulligan in Haydn's oratorio The Seasons.
The following day, Conlon and his chorus and orchestra give a full-length concert presentation of Verdi's Il trovatore. Soprano Sondra Radvanovsky makes her Festival debut as Leonora. Tenor Franco Farina sings Manrico; baritone Donnie Ray Albert is Count di Luna; mezzo Marianne Cornette is Azucena; bass Morris Robinson is Ferrando and mezzo Michle Losier sings Ines.
On May 20, May Festival director of choruses Robert Porco takes the choir and the Cincinnati Symphony across the Ohio River for Bach's cantata Himmelsk‹nig, sei willkommen (BWV 182) at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington, Kentucky. Soloists are Losier, tenor John Aler and bass-baritone David Pittsinger. The May Festival Youth Chorus, under the direction of James Bagwell, opens the concert with works by Jacob Handl, Hans Leo Hassler and Heinrich Isaac.
One highlight of the festival will be a multimedia performance of Berlioz's L'enfance du Christ at Music Hall on May 25, with Conlon leading Losier, Aler, Pittsinger and baritone William McGraw. The work will be accompanied by a visual presentation, assembled by curators at the Cincinnati Art Museum, displaying various artists' depictions of the Nativity story projected onto a screen.
The Festival closes on May 26 with a concert performance of Acts II and III of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung is Orpheus and soprano Ellie Dehn sings Eurydice, with Losier as Amore. Conlon conducts the May Festival Chorus, the May Festival Youth Chorus and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The program also includes Rossini's Stabat Mater, with soloists Radvanovsky, DeYoung, Robinson and tenor Roderick Dixon.
The Cincinnati May Festival was founded in 1873 and has been led by Conlon since 1979.