Opera Philadelphia will launch its second festival season, titled O18, this fall. The lineup, which includes two world premieres, two new productions, and a multi-day, drag-infused cabaret event, run September 20–30 in multiple venues around the city.
Launching both the O18 festival and the year-round Opera at the Academy season is a new production of Donizetti’s bel canto opera Lucia di Lammermoor from director Laurent Pelley. Singing the title role will be Brenda Rae, with Troy Cook as Enrico and Michael Spyres as Edgardo. The production will go on to play Vienna in 2019 following the Philadelphia premiere at the Academy of Music.
Composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch will collaborate once more on the world premiere of Sky on Swings following last year’s I Have No Stories to Tell You. Their new opera will star mezzo-sopranos Frederica von Stade and Marietta Simpson as two women who form an unlikely companionship as they both face the devastation of Alzheimer’s. Joanna Settle directs the production, which will play the Perelman Theater.
The second world premiere, the immersive performance art piece Glass Handel will take up the Barnes Foundation. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo teams up with the art and fashion multimedia company Vionaire to fuse the music of Philip Glass and Handel into an opera-infused art installation, featuring a live painting by George Condo, a dance piece from Justin Peck, and more throughout the space. The event is expected to play New York in a future season.
Ne Quittez Pas, a reimagined take on Poulenc’s opera monologue La voix humaine, will star Patricia Racette. The site-specific staging by James Darrah will take up the Philadelphia concert venue Theatre of Living Arts.
Rounding out the O18 season is Stephanie Blythe (under the pseudonym Blythely Oratonio) and drag artist Martha Graham Cracker’s cabaret series, Queens of the Night, at the Theatre of Living Arts. The three-day event will culminate in an encore performance of last year’s Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night.
The company’s spring season will follow, beginning with the U.S. premiere of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Opera National de Lyon’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Robert Carden’s staging of the Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears opera will run February 8–17, 2019.
A new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by R.B. Schlather will follow, with performances March 7–10. The season also includes La bohème (April 26–May 5) and the chamber opera Empty the House, by Opera Philadelphia’s current composer in residence Rene Orth and librettist Mark Campbell (May 2–5).