The festival opens on May 19 with the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork's Earthrise, with music director James Conlon conducting the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Brazeal Dennard Chorale. The work is a setting of poet Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy, which Beethoven also used for his Ninth Symphony.
The second half of the program features Carl Orff's enduring Carmina Burana, with French soprano Norah Amsellem; Ohio-native Lester Lynch; and Rodrick Dixon, best known as a member of Cook, Dixon & Young, the group featured in the television special Three Mo' Tenors.
Other highlights of the festival, which runs over two consecutive weekends, include a concert devoted to Mozart in honor of the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. On May 21 Conlon will conduct the May Festival Chorus and the May Festival Youth Chorus in Mozart's Vesperae de Dominica and Vesperae Solennes de Confessor in Covington, Kentucky's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.
The second weekend opens with the festival's first-ever performance of Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, featuring sopranos Mary Dunleavy and Amanda Pabyan, both making their festival debuts.
The season will close at Music Hall on May 27 with Haydn's oratorio The Creation.