Tony Winner Des McAnuff to Direct Wozzeck Opera in San Diego

News   Tony Winner Des McAnuff to Direct Wozzeck Opera in San Diego Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff will make his operatic directing debut with the San Diego Opera's upcoming presentation of Alban Berg's Wozzeck.

The psychological drama opens April 14 and will play for four performances only at the Civic Theatre. Resident conductor Karen Keltner leads the orchestra for the 90 minute one-act show to be sung in English.

"Wozzeck is, without question, one of the great musical accomplishments of the 20th century. The third act is impeccable— absolute musical perfection," stated McAnuff. "Berg managed, in my opinion, to substantially improve, in shear dramatic terms, on Georg Buchner's Wozzeck (the play on which the opera is based) — an extraordinary achievement in itself.  Simply put, the opera is a better play than the play."

Billed as "an expressionistic opera," Wozzeck "explores the psychology of Wozzeck (Franz Hawlata), a poor, powerless and oppressed soldier trying to cope with the mental persecution and torment of his superiors. Constantly berated by his Captain (Chris Merritt) and the Company Drum Major (Jay Hunter Morris), Wozzeck is subjected to food experiments by a crazy Doctor (Dean Peterson). To make matters worse, his mistress and the mother of his child, Marie (Nina Warren), has an affair with the Drum Major who boasts of his conquests," as press materials describe.

Also featured in the cast will be Joel Sorensen (as Andres), Susana Poretsky (Margret), Scott Sikon (First Workman) and Joseph Frank (Idiot).

The production's design team will include fellow Broadway veterans: set designer Robert Brill (Assassins), Catherine Zuber (Awake and Sing!, The Light in the Piazza) and lighting designer Howell Binkley (Jersey Boys). McAnuff has brought stagings of Dracula, 700 Sundays and Jersey Boys to Broadway — all from La Jolla Playhouse, where he serves as artistic director. He will leave that post to become one of three artistic directors at Canada's Stratford Festival when his California contract ends in 2007.

A Tony Award winner for his direction of Big River and The Who's Tommy, McAnuff's Broadway credits also include How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and A Walk in the Woods in addition to his numerous productions as producer with Dodger Theatricals. He staged the musicals Zhivago, The Wiz and the current workshop production of Aaron Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention at La Jolla. His directorial film work includes "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle" and "Cousin Bette."

Tickets to the San Diego Opera Wozzeck can be purchased by calling (619) 533-7000 or by visiting www.sdopera.com.