While the company is slipping in an extra Bohme this afternoon, the official season opening is Tuesday evening, September 11, with the first New York performance of Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison's Margaret Garner. The work, which is based on the historical story that inspired Morrison's Beloved (and for which Morrison provided the libretto), premiered in May 2005 at Michigan Opera Theatre and had subsequent stagings at Cincinnati Opera and Opera Company of Philadelphia. (The three companies co-commissioned the work.) Tazewell Thompson directs a new production for City Opera, with Tracie Luck in the title role, Gregg Baker as husband Robert, Lisa Daltirus as mother-in-law Cilla, and Thomas Barrett as slaveowner Edward Gaines. Company music director George Manahan conducts.
The two old favorites are that Bohme and Don Giovanni, the two productions offered in this year's Opera-for-All. The Puccini features Inna Dukach as MimÐ and Dinyar Vania as Rodolfo; Elizabeth Caballero and Brian Mulligan play Musetta and Marcello in James Robinson's production; Ari Pelto conducts. In the Mozart, Aaron St. Clair Nicholson gives his City Opera debut performances as the titular rake. Daniel Mobbs is the Don's servant/alter ego, Leporello, with Mardi Byers as Donna Anna, Julianna DiGiacomo as Donna Elvira, JiYoung Lee as Zerlina, Bruce Sledge as Don Ottavio, Matthew Burns as Masetto and Daniel Borowski as the Commendatore. David Wroe conducts, and Albert Sherman directs the revival of the company's production by Harold Prince.
A new production of the classic opera double bill, Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, opens on September 28. Stephen Lawless directs, and Manahan is back on the podium. In Cavalleria, Anna Maria Chiuri and Irina Rindzuner alternate as Santuzza, Brandon Jovanovich and Kip Wilborn share the role of Turiddu and Andrew Oakden and Michael Corvino alternate as Alfio. Pagliacci features Maria Kanyova and Elizabeth Caballero as Nedda, Carl Tanner and Richard Crawley as Canio, Andrew Okden and Michael Corvino as Tonio, Michael Todd Simpson and Alexander Tall as Silvio and Robert Mack and Andrew Drost as Beppe.
The third of City Opera's five new productions for the season opens on October 27: Massenet's Cendrillon, with French soprano Cassandre Berthon in the title role. The staging, directed and choreographed by Renaud Doucet, is billed as a spoof on American pop culture in the 1950s; it features sets and costumes created for Strasbourg's Op_ra national du Rhin and co-produced with Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Katherine Jolly is the Fairy Godmother, Joyce Castle is Madame de la Haltire, Fr_d_ric Antoun is Prince Charming and Eugene Brancoveanu is Pandolfe.
Lauren Flanigan returns to City Opera to take the title role in Samuel Barber's Vanessa, opening November 4. Co-starring are Katharine Goeldner as Erika, Rosalind Elias as the Old Baroness and Richard Stilwell as the Doctor. Anne Manson, former music director of the Kansas City Symphony, makes her house debut as conductor, and Michael Kahn directs.
The last of the season's new productions, a joint venture with English National Opera and Cal Performances in Berkeley which opens in New York on March 5, features the Mark Morris Dance Group, with Morris himself providing direction and choreography. The work is King Arthur, Henry Purcell's "semi-opera" (no-one really knows how else to describe it) with text by John Dryden. Jane Glover conducts City Opera's orchestra and chorus, with a cast of seven young soloists (Mhairi Lawson, Sarah Jane McMahon, Heidi Stober, Iestyn Davies, Steven Sanders, Daniel Mobbs and Alexander Tall) taking so many different roles that they're identified on the company's website only by their voice types. As usual with a Morris production, Isaac Mizrahi will provide typically witty and fabulous costumes.
On the revival front, Beth Clayton takes on the title role in Bizet's Carmen, starting on October 5. Jennifer Black is MicaêŠla, Scott Piper is Don Jos_ and Carlos Archuleta sings Escamillo. Joseph Rescigno conducts the Jonathan Eaton production.
Nelly Miricioiu makes her City Opera debut in the title role of Handel's Agrippina on October 14. Jennifer Rivera sings Nerone, Heidi Stober is Poppea, David Walker is Ottone and Joê£o Fernandes is Emperor Claudio. Ransom Wilson conducts Lillian Groag's production.
Jan Opalach sings the title role in Leon Major's production of Verdi's Falstaff, beginning on March 19. Pamela Armstrong is Alice Ford, Anna Skibinsky and John Tessier are Nannetta and Fenton, Ursula Ferri is Mistress Quickly and Alfredo Daza is Ford; Manahan returns to his City Opera podium.
Shu-Ying Li and Yunah Lee share the title role of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, which begins its run on March 6. Jennifer Tiller and Rebecca Ringle are Suzuki, James Valenti is Pinkerton, Jeffrey Pic‹n and James Schaffner are Goro and Young Bok Kim and Branch Fields are the Bonze. Steven Mosteller and Joseph Mechavich conduct the much-admired Mark Lamos production.
Another Lamos staging, of Puccini's Tosca, returns to the repertory on March 22, with Anna Shafajinskaia in the title role and Todd Thomas as Scarpia. (The Cavaradossi has yet to be announced.)
City Opera's famed Harold Prince production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide returns to the company's repertoire on April 8 (replacing the originally announced Ragtime).The NYCO Candide staging spawned a cast album and was also televised on PBS. Manahan will conduct; casting will be announced later in the season.
For more information, and for tickets, visit www.nycopera.com.