Florida Grand Opera’s 2013-2014 Season Announced

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13-14 season SQUAREFlorida Grand Opera (FGO) announces its 73rd continuous season of grand opera featuring an innovative new vision with provocative repertoire under the direction of General Director and CEO Susan T. Danis. In addition to a wealth of exciting artists making their debuts with the company, the 2013-2014 season features: the Southeast American premiere of Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra followed by Verdi’s Nabucco, Puccini’s Tosca, and Massenet’s Thaïs.
“I am proud to bring a new artistic vision to Florida Grand Opera. The themes of these pieces will resonate with you regardless of which of the many diverse communities in South Florida you call home,” said Susan T. Danis, General Director and CEO of Florida Grand Opera. “This season will be a unique and exciting one, thrilling both first timers and opera lovers.”

MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
This coming season, South Florida will host the Southeast American premiere of Broward-based composer Marvin David Levy’s Mourning Becomes Electra, which the New York Times called “a kicking and screaming contemporary opera that deserves a future.” In homage to its composer, it will open at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on November 7, 2013,in an entirely new production created by Florida Grand Opera.
Mourning Becomes Electra was inspired by the Eugene O’Neill play of the same name, which is itself a retelling of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, a masterpiece of ancient Greek theater and noted as the oldest play cycle in recorded history that still exists. Levy planned not merely to set the play to music, but to build on O’Neill’s structure through simple and minimalistic orchestrations, an approach that intrigued O’Neill sufficiently to allow it.
The work was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1967 to commemorate the company’s new home at Lincoln Center. The original production was well-received on its premiere, but then disappeared for 30 years until a new production by the Lyric Opera of Chicago returned the work to the stage in 1998 in a new edition prepared by the composer. A more dramatic revision of the opera was then presented by Seattle Opera in 2003, in a co-production with New York City Opera, featuring additional cuts and rewrites, condensing the piece from three acts to two as well as adding a new finale. The opera to be presented in South Florida has been further revised since it was last staged. FGO will be only the fifth company in the United States to perform the opera.
The story transplants the classic Greek tragedy to a small New England town in 1865. Christine Mannon, the distant young wife of General Ezra Mannon, has fallen in love with a handsome young suitor while her husband was away at war. Seeing the opportunity to be with her new love, Christine replaces her husband’s heart medicine with poison, but the general manages to inform his daughter, Lavinia, of her mother’s murderous plot before taking his final breath. Enraged by her beloved father’s ignominious end, Lavinia enlists the help of her brother, Orin, as death and misfortune continue to follow this cursed family.
Soprano Lauren Flanigan returns to FGO as Christine Mannon, a role she has commanded many times over. The New York Times described her 2004 performance in the role with New York City Opera as “…a mesmerizing, sometimes terrifying portrayal of the ruthless and unhinged Christine.” The celebrated American singer has embodied more than 100 different operatic roles and enjoyed what Opera News calls “one of the most distinctive careers of any artist in her generation.” She last performed with FGO in 2001, making her company and role debut in the title role of Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, adding “yet another stellar portrayal to her trophy cabinet of offbeat characters,” said the Sun Sentinel.
In the role of her vengeful daughter, Lavinia, is Canadian soprano Rayanne Dupuis. She last performed the role with Seattle Opera in 2003 and was called “near perfection” by Opera Canada as well as “chilling and visceral” by Andante.com. Making her company debut this coming season, the Paris-based singer has performed with numerous renowned companies, such as Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Austin Lyric Opera. Also making his FGO and role debut is American baritone Morgan Smith as Adam Brant, Christine’s handsome young suitor. An artist of ample repertoire, Smith recently received critical acclaim for his role as Starbuck in San Francisco Opera’s Moby Dick, a part to which he brought “mellifluous lyricism,” according to the Wall Street Journal when it premiered with Dallas Opera in 2010. No stranger to Mourning Becomes Electra, he sang as Peter Niles in Seattle Opera’s 2004 staging and was called “first-rate” by the Seattle Times.
Receiving praise as one of his generation’s up-and-coming heldentenors, Jason Collins appeared in title role of Rienzi at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in a production celebrating the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth this May and will come to FGO as Orin Mannon. He has been noted by Opera Magazine for his “virile tone and musical sensitivity” and by the Huffington Post as a “sweet voice and boundless talent.” A company regular, bass Kevin Langan, returns to FGO as the stern and authoritative Ezra Mannon, making this his twelfth part with the company. He has been hailed by the New York Times for his “deep, toffee-smooth voice and convincing interpretive abilities” and boasts a robust repertoire spanning more than 80 roles.
Mourning Becomes Electra will be under the direction of Grammy-Award-nominated director Kevin Newbury. An avid collaborator on contemporary works, Newbury has worked with some of the nation’s leading opera companies, including Glimmerglass Opera and San Francisco Opera, and is cited by to Opera News for his “thoughtfulness, eye for details, and ability to frame the dramatic moment.” The FGO production will feature innovative projections by famous Broadway designer Wendall K. Harrington, whom Variety magazine called “brilliant” for her treatment of Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten, and sets by Anya Klepikov, a Yale School of Drama alumna named a “young designer to watch” by Live Design. The “beautiful visual concepts” (Wall Street Journal) of costume designer Elizabeth Caitlin Ward come to FGO by way of the pieces originally designed for the Seattle Opera and New York City Opera co-production.
Robert Wierzel, a Tony Award nominee for best lighting design, returns to FGO, bringing the unique aesthetic of a diverse artistic experience and credits with leading opera companies. Conducting all four titles this season, FGO Music Director Maestro Ramón Tebar will lead the orchestra with what Diario de Leon called “virtuosity, transparency, and communication.”

SCHEDULE | Mourning Becomes Electra
**Sung in English with projected titles in English and Spanish**
FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts/ Au-Rene Theater
November 7, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. – Opening Night;
November 9, 2013, at 7:30 p.m.
MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
November 16, 2013, at 7 p.m. – Miami-Dade Opening Night;
November 19 & 23, 2013, at 8 p.m.;
November 17, 2013, matinee at 2 p.m.

CAST | Mourning Becomes Electra
Christine Mannon …… Lauren Flanigan
Lavinia Mannon …… Rayanne Dupuis*
Adam Brant …… Morgan Smith *
Orin Mannon …… Jason Collins *
Gen. Ezra Mannon …… Kevin Langan
Helen Niles …… Riley Svatos ♦*
Peter Niles …… Carlton Ford ♦*
Jed …… Nelson Martinez *
Conductor …… Ramón Tebar
Director …… Kevin Newbury *
Projection Design …… Wendall K. Harrington *
Set Designer …… Anya Klepikov *
Costume Designer …… Elizabeth Caitlin Ward *
Lighting Designer …… Robert Wierzel
* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist
NABUCCO

Opening on January 25, 2014, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Verdi’s Nabucco has been credited with launching the famous composer’s career. Set against the backdrop of the Israelites’ plight in the face of Babylonian domination, its biblical themes adorn a passionate love story plagued with political turmoil.
Composed in 1841, as tensions ran high in Northern Italy from Austrian occupation, the opera also draws a parallel between the struggles of the Israelites and those of Verdi’s compatriots. The Israelites’ yearning for their homeland resonated with the Italians’ increasing desire for a unified nation of their own, marked by the term Risorgimiento, adding to the opera’s astounding success.
The opera begins as Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar), king of Babylon, prepares an assault on the Temple of Solomon, where the high priest Zaccaria holds Fenena, the king’s daughter, hostage. Both Fenena and her sister, the slave Abigaille, love Ismaele, an Israelite leader who had been held captive in their country. He, though loves only Fenena. Stung by his rejection, the strong-willed Abigaille vows revenge and manages to trick Nabucco into condemning Fenena to death, and then usurp his throne. The conquered Hebrews mourn for their lost homeland. Nabucco descends into madness, then converts to the Hebrews’ religion and is restored to sanity and power.
Leading a stellar double cast, the role of Nabucco will be sung by two Hispanic baritones making their company debuts, Dario Solari and Nelson Martinez. A native of Uruguay, Solari has had a successful career in Europe in both concerts and operatic stagings. Called a “revelation” by Classic Toulouse, he most recently performed with the Welsh National Opera and the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, where he will make his debut in the role of Nabucco in July 2013. Praised as a dramatic Verdian baritone, Martinez began voice lessons in his native Cuba and is proud to return to Miami to debut this important role following his debut with the company as Jed in Mourning Becomes Electra. His voice has been called “rich and powerful” by Metro Pulse and showcased what South Florida Classical Review noted as “a dark baritone [that] elegantly spun bel canto lines,” in Palm Beach Opera’s most recent production of Lucia di Lammermoor.
The soprano role of Abigaille, with its high tessitura, has proven a challenge for many sopranos throughout the years. Embodying this challenging character are seasoned sopranos Maria Guleghina and Susan Neves, each making her company debut. Known as a “soprano with Verdi flowing through her veins,” Guleghina boasts an international career with more than 15 productions at Milan’s La Scala and 150 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, many beside greats like Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo. The New York Times marveled at her “steely, brutally effective high notes” when she last sang Abigaille with the Metropolitan Opera in 2011. Neves, a Florida resident, has spent her career undertaking some of opera’s most difficult roles and has won acclaim as a Verdi soprano with an affinity for Abigaille. She has sung the role all over the world, from the Opera Bastille in Paris to the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. Opera Now declares “her voice is perfect for Verdi. There is clarity, injection of meaning, easy piano … [and] supreme command combined with emotive singing.”
Fenena is portrayed by Mabel Ledo, praised by the New York Times for “a warm and expressive mezzo-soprano” voice. This local Cuban-American artist makes her role and company debut with Nabucco, having performed at Lincoln Center, Teatro Carlo Felice, and more. Bass-baritone Kevin Short makes his FGO and role debut as Zaccaria. He has performed with some of the leading companies in the United States, including the Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Washington National Opera, among others. Also showcasing extensive work in Europe, he was noted in Opera News for his “requisite big sound … [and] expressive, almost delicate style.” In the role of the High Priest of Babylon is returning FGO Young Artist Adam Lau, who was recently praised by South Florida Classical Review for displaying a “sonorous voice in FGO’s The Magic Flute.
This dynamic piece comes to South Florida in an“ingenious and insightful” staging (Opera Warhorses), which premiered in May 2012 as a new co-production by Washington National Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Opera Philadelphia. The vision of American director and scenic designer Thaddeus Strassberger takes the FGO stage for the first time. Winner of the prestigious European Opera Directing Prize by Opera Europa, Strassberger is known for productions that are “fresh and thoughtful … [presenting] us with modern parallels without being contrived,” according to Opera Now magazine. The production will feature ornate costumes by Mattie Ullrich, a designer described by Opera magazine as having “particular panache.” Associate director Leigh Holman joins the team as Maestro Tebar’s “masterly baton” (El Nuevo Herald) returns to command the podium. Broward performances are generously sponsored, in part, by Funding Arts Broward.
SCHEDULE| Nabucco
**Sung in Italian with projected titles in English and Spanish**
MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
January 25, 2014, at 7 p.m. – Opening Night
January 28, 29, 31 & February 1, 2014, at 8:00 p.m.
January 26, 2014, matinee at 2 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
February 6 & 8, 2014, at 7:30p.m.
CAST| Nabucco
Nabucco …… Dario Solari * / Nelson Martinez *
Abigaille …… Maria Guleghina * / Susan Neves *
Ismaele …… Martin Nusspaumer ♦ / Casey Finnigan ♦ *
Anna …… Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste ♦ * / Betsy Diaz ♦
Fenena …… Mabel Ledo *
Zaccaria …… Kevin Short *
Abdalio …… TBA
High priest of Baal …… Adam Lau ♦
Conductor …… Ramón Tebar
Director & Scenic Designer …… Thaddeus Strassberger *
Associate Director …… Leigh Holman *
Costume Designer …… Mattie Ullrich
Lighting Designer …… Mark McCullough
* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist
[Artist performance dates to be announced]

TOSCA
Last presented at FGO in 2007, Puccini’s Tosca is a riveting psychological drama that builds up to one of opera’s most stunning conclusions. Torture, murder, and suicide return to the Arsht Center on March 29, 2014, with an exciting double cast and timeless sets by Ercole Sormani.
Based on a play by Victorien Sardou, Puccini’s lyrical masterwork tells the story of Floria Tosca, a famous diva, who fights to save her lover in a gripping tale of political turmoil and human passion with a devastating end. Puccini’s inventive orchestration, through-composition, and use of Wagnerian leitmotifs, such as the highly recognizable “Scarpia cord,” made it an immediate hit with the public and one of the most frequently performed operas in the world to this day.
Two dazzling sopranos, Kara Shay Thomson and Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, make their FGO debuts as the seductive diva, Tosca. Thomson sang the role three times in the 2012-2013 season alone – Kentucky Opera, Portland Opera, and Pensacola Opera –and was commended by the Longboat Observer as “luminous and luxurious in sound, while maintaining the nuanced vocalism of a true diva.” She is also an accomplished concert performer with engagements at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Lynchburg Symphony, Carnegie Hall, and more. Jean-Baptiste is a fast rising lyric-spinto soprano and a first-year artist with the FGO Young Artist Studio Program. In 2010, the Haitian-American singer shone in her first Tosca with Opera San Jose in her second year as a Principal Resident Artist. The San Jose Mercury News described her as a “voice of unusual opulence and hair-raising power – the raw materials of a star.”
As Tosca’s lover, Cavaradossi, FGO welcomes two additional debuts, tenors Rafael Davila and Diego Torre. Davila debuted the role in 2009 with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and was praised “a lyrical voice with a spectacular upper range and beautifully focused tone” by Kansas City Star. Other recent highlights include his Washington National Opera debut as Pollione in Norma and his Italian debut at the Teatro San Carlo as Riccardo in Un ballo in maschera. Mexican tenor Torre has sung Cavarodossi with Boston Lyric Opera and Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe in Germany. He has performed Rodolfo in La bohème with Wolf Trap Opera and Opera Australia, where Bachtrak suggested “his upper register is just as silky as Pavarotti’s.” American baritone Todd Thomas joins the cast as the notorious Scarpia. One of the staples of his career, he has performed the role with Opera Carolina, Sarasota Opera, and New York City Opera, where the New York Times dubbed his performance “vocally assured and dramatically charged.”
Following a successful tango double-bill production with FGO, José Maria Condemi returns to South Florida to lead the stage direction with what Opera Actual calls “good taste, precise staging and consummate theatrical flair.” Maestro Tebar conducts this timeless work with a style marked by “vigor, sharp dynamic contracts and rich emotional colors,” as noted by Palm Beach Daily News. Christopher Maravich makes his debut with the company as lighting designer, having previously spent 14 years with San Francisco Opera working on more than 150 different productions.
SCHEDULE| Tosca
**Sung in Italian with projected titles in English and Spanish**
MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
Mar 29, 2014, at 7 p.m. – Opening Night
Apr 1, 2, 4 & 5, 2014, at 8:00 p.m.
Mar 30, 2014, matinee at 2 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
Apr 10 & 12, 2014, at 7:30 p.m.

CAST| Tosca
Tosca …… Kara Shay Thomson * / Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste ♦
Cavaradossi …… Rafael Davila * / Diego Torre *
Scarpia …… Todd Thomas *
Angelotti …… Adam Lau ♦
Sciarrone …… Adam Lau ♦
Spoletta …… Jason Ferrante
Sacristan …… Andrew Funk *
Conductor …… Ramón Tebar
Director …… José Maria Condemi
Set Designer …… Ercole Sormani
Costume Designer …… Malabar
Lighting Designer …… Christopher Maravich *
* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist
[Artist performance dates to be announced]
THAÏS
Florida Grand Opera closes the 2013-2014 season with yet another exciting deviation from the standard repertoire – Massenet’s Thaïs, opening May 3, 2014, at the Arsht Center. Bringing a touch of eastern mystique to the season, this work was last presented by FGO in 1976. It comes to the stage in a co-production by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, and Opéra de Montréal conceived and designed by the team of Renaud Doucet and Andre Barbe.
Based on the Anatole France novel of the same name, Thaïs is a tale of religious eroticism where Athanaël, a cenobite monk, seeks to convert an Alexandrian courtesan and follower of Venus, goddess of love, to the path of Christianity. This French opera contains the famous Meditation from Thaïs, a sublime intermezzo for solo violin and orchestra that bridges the scenes of Act II and describes the conversion of Thaïs. The role of Thaïs, which was originally written for American soprano Sibyl Sanderson, is a famously difficult one whose interpreters include Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, and Renée Fleming. Stepping up to the challenge and making their role debuts will be sopranos Eglise Gutiérrez and Angela Mortellaro.
Known for a warm and vibrant personality that won the hearts of South Florida audiences, Gutiérrez is a Cuban-American coloratura soprano who has turned her affinity for the bel canto style into an international career. She has traveled the world delivering thrilling interpretations of the heroines of Donizetti, Verdi, Massenet, and Delibes. In 2011, she took on the technically-demanding lead role of Amina in La sonnambula with the Royal Opera House, where Opera Britannia was impressed with the “richness and warmth of her voice … [and her] fearless upper register.” The soprano made her critically-acclaimed debut with FGO in 2008 as the complex Violetta Valéry in La traviata, where she demonstrated “vocal artistry, coloratura agility and dramatic commitment,” according to South Florida Classical Review. Making her company and role debut as Thaïs, FGO welcomesMortellaro, an American soprano of “considerable vocal power,” according to the Portland Press Herald. She is known for important roles such as: Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor with Dayton Opera, Galatea in Acis and Galatea with Madison Opera, and Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with Sarasota Opera.
The role of Athanaël will be sung by bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter, praised by Opera Now for his “dashing stage presence, acting ability, and solid vocal technique.” He made his FGO debut as Scarpia in Puccini’s Tosca in 2001 and returned to sing the roles of Oscar Hubbard in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina and Monaoh in Donath’s Szulamit. The Grammy-nominated artist has performed with major opera companies from coast to coast, growing his repertoire to more than 100 performed roles. Uruguayan tenor Martin Nusspaumer joins FGO as a first-year Young Artist singing the role of Nicias, a wealthy nobleman and Thaïs’s lover. He made his company debut in 2011 Luisa Fernanda and has been called “a tenor reminiscent of Domingo” with “deeply emotional delivery” by South Florida Classical Review. His voice has taken him all over the world, from the National Opera of Uruguay to the Presidential Symphony Orchestra in Turkey, and has earned him the accolate of southern region finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, among many others. Maestro Tebar’s “intense and precise conducting” (Buenos Aires Herald) rises to the podium one final time to close out the season.
Thaïs is taking the place of a previously planned production of Wagner’s Tristan & Isolde, which is being postponed as a result of FGO’s unyielding commitment to bringing the highest artistic product to South Florida and the limited availability of such productions. “We have had to postpone Tristan & Isolde for one season due to the challenge of finding a production that fits the stages both in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale,” said Susan T. Danis, FGO’s General Director and CEO. “With the production team making it a priority to find a great production, we will be able to present Tristan & Isolde in all its glory in 2014-15.”
SCHEDULE | Thaïs
**Sung in French with projected titles in English and Spanish**
MIAMI ◙ Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County / Ziff Ballet Opera House
May 3, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. – Opening Night
May 6 & 10, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.
May 4, 2014, matinee at 2 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE ◙ Broward Center for the Performing Arts / Au-Rene Theater
May 15 & 17, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.

CAST | Thaïs
Thaïs ……Eglise Gutiérrez / Angela Mortellaro *
Athanaël ……Kristopher Irmiter
Nicias ……Martin Nusspaumer ♦
Palemon ……Adam Lau ♦
Conductor ……Ramón Tebar
Director ……Renaud Doucet
Designer ……Andre Barbe
* = FGO Debut ◊ = Former Young Artist ♦ = Current Young Artist
[Additional casting and artist performance dates to be announced]
Subscriptions for the 2013-2014 season start at only $36. FGO’s Box Office is located at the Doral Center on 8390 NW 25 St., Doral, FL 33122, and is open to the public from 10am to 4pm, Monday through Friday during the season. Tickets may also be purchased by phone at (800) 741-1010 or online at www.FGO.org.
Sponsorship opportunities for productions and events throughout the season are available. For more information, contact Director of Development Amy Funk at 305-854-1643 or afunk@fgo.org.

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