Soprano Lauren Flanigan and baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes star as the central pair in the performances which will take place at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium Jan. 15 and 16 at 8 PM.
Flanigan - who made her City Opera debut as Musetta in the 1991 La bohme - has performed with such companies as La Scala, Teatro San Carlo, Metropolitan Opera, Glyndebourne, San Francisco Opera and Bayerische Staatsoper.
Rhodes, the "the strapping 6-foot-5 baritone from New Zealand" makes his company debut with this production. Career highlights include Ned Keene in the Met's Peter Grimes, Billy Budd in Santa Fe, and a much-talked-about 2007 turn as Stanley in a Vienna Streetcar Named Desire .
The cast also features rising tenor Simon O'Neill as Caesar and City Opera favorites David Pittsinger as Enobarbus, Sandra Piques Eddy as Charmian and Laura Vlasak Nolen as Iras. City Opera Music Director George Manahan will conduct.
Rounding out the company are Matthew Burns (Agrippa), Andrew Drost (Messenger), Alexander Tall (Dolabella), Scott Guinn (Thidias), Brian Kontes (Alexas), Kirk Eichelberger (Soothsayer), Theodore Chletsos (Soldier of Caesar), Eric Jordan (Rustic), Robert Mack (Guard 1), Ryan Kinsella (Guard 2), David Salsbery Fry (Guard 3) and Young-Bok Kim (Guard 4).
The opera, based on Shakespeare's historical romance of the same name, was first commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1966 to serve as the opening production staged at its new (and current) Lincoln Center home. The libretto was originally compiled by director Franco Zeffirelli, solely making use of the Bard's source text. Following a bumpy premiere, Barber and his longtime companion Gian Carlo Menotti extensively revised the score and revamped the text. This more intimate, shorter version premiered at the Juilliard School in 1975, staged by Menotti.
"Though this new version of Antony and Cleopatra was more enthusiastically received, the opera continued to suffer neglect for its perceived conservatism during an era of musical radicalism," says City Opera dramaturg Cori Ellison. "With these performances, New York City Opera becomes only the third American opera company to present the work since its world premiere over four decades ago."
Music Director George Manahan has said, "By presenting this masterpiece, New York City Opera is continuing its tradition of championing important 20th-century American repertoire. We hope to spark new and lasting interest in Antony and Cleopatra, as we have done for other rarely performed American works including Barber's Pulitzer Prize-Winning opera Vanessa, which we presented last season."
In addition to the concert itself, City Opera will offer a Winter Gala, which precedes the Jan. 15 performance:
Winter Gala at Carnegie Hall
On Thursday, January 15, 2009, New York City Opera will present its Winter Gala accompanying a concert performance of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra. Gala guests will enjoy pre-performance cocktails and dinner, and return during intermission for champagne. Gala tickets begin at $1,000. VIP guests ($2,500+ tickets or $15,000+ tables) will be invited to the cast party following the performance. For more information or to purchase gala tickets, please call City Opera Special Events at 212-870-4291.
CONCERT: Thursday, January 15 and Friday, January 16, 2009 at 8 PM
Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: $24 - $130; (212)247-7800 or www.carnegiehall.org
WINTER GALA: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 6:00 PM
Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue
Tickets: Begin at $1,000 (limited availability); (212)870-4291
For further information, visit www.nycopera.com