SEATTLE OPERA CELEBRATES ITS 50TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Operas Include Don Giovanni, Tosca, Semele and Ariadne auf Naxos
Award-winning singers Include Lawrence Brownlee, Greer Grimsley, Stephanie Blythe and Kate Lindsey
Left: Lawrence Brownlee returns to McCaw Hall for Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni Photo © Alan Alabstro
Right: Greer Grimsley returns to the role of Scarpia in Tosca. Photo © Rozarili Lynch
From the depths of hell to the heights of paradise, the four great operas of Seattle Opera’s 2014/15 season will take operagoers on a fantastic journey. During this important anniversary season, leadership will pass from Speight Jenkins, who has been General Director of Seattle Opera for a remarkable 31 years, to Aidan Lang, who was announced as Jenkins’ successor in June, 2013. The Speight Celebration Concert and Dinner took place on August 9, coinciding with the International Wagner Competition that Jenkins has pioneered since 2006. Many of Seattle Opera’s best-loved singers, including Greer Grimsley, Stephanie Blythe and Kate Lindsey, joined the Seattle Opera Chorus and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in paying tribute to this much revered icon. For a lovely discussion of the proceedings, see (review).
Kicking the season off is Mozart’s multifaceted portrait of an unrepentant casanova: Don Giovanni. Since first fascinating audiences at its 1787 premiere, this masterpiece continues to be opera’s ultimate cautionary tale about the human cost of unbridled lust. French bass Nicolas Cavallier returns to Seattle as the dangerously charming title character. Lawrence Brownlee, Seattle Opera’s Artist of the Year for 2008, returns for his first mainstage Mozart role at Seattle Opera as Don Ottavio. Elizabeth Caballero and Christine Brandes share the role of Donna Elvira, with Erin Wall and Alexandra LoBianco making their respective Seattle Opera debuts as Donna Anna. Gary Thor Wedow conducts a stylish production, first created by Seattle Opera in 2007. Chris Alexander directs, with costumes by Marie-Therese Cramer and sets by Robert Dahlstrom.
In January 2015 comes Tosca, Puccini’s crowd-pleasing masterpiece about a fiery diva, an idealistic painter, and a corrupt police chief. Two stellar sopranos, Ausrine Stundyte (opening night) and Mary Elizabeth Williams (alternate cast), return to Seattle to sing the title role; Stundyte wowed Seattle as Cio-Cio-San in 2012, and Williams won Artist of the Year for her Serena in Porgy and Bess in 2011. The production also stars tenor Stefano Secco as Mario Cavaradossi and features the return of Seattle favorite and Artist of the Year winner (for Wotan in the 2005 Ring) Greer Grimsley as the power-mad Baron Scarpia. Grimsley previously performed Scarpia for the Seattle Opera in 2008. Direction will be by Jose Maria Condemi.
Left: Stephanie Blythe sings Juno in Semele. Photo © Bill Cooper
Right: Kate Lindsey assumes the role of Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. Photo © Elise Bakketun
Next, Handel’s sensuous and sparkling charmer, Semele, comes to Seattle Opera for the first time. An unsophisticated but ambitious young woman leaves her origins behind in an attempt to enter the rarified realm of the beautiful people. Seattle Opera’s elegant, all-new production stars the incomparable mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, Artist of the Year winner for 2009, as Juno, the goddess bent on teaching the interloper a lesson. She has previously assumed this role at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden. Making their Seattle Opera debuts are tenor Alek Shrader as Jupiter, Juno’s philandering husband, and soprano Brenda Rae as Semele, the vain mortal woman he loves. John Del Carlo returns in the double role of Cadmus and Somnus. Seattle Opera Young Artists alumni Dana Pundt, Theo Lebow and Deborah Nansteel return in the alternate cast. Tomer Zvulun directs this Seattle Opera premiere, with scenery designed by Erhard Rom and costumes by Vita Tzykun. Gary Thor Wedow returns to conduct.
The season concludes with the return of Seattle Opera’s hit production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, which amazed audiences at its premiere with a minute-long sequence of indoor fireworks. Kate Lindsey, Artist of the Year winner for 2010, is the high-strung Composer and Sarah Coburn is the flirtatious Zerbinetta -- finding that true love really does have a transformative effect. Sarah Larsen and debuting soprano Haeran Hong sing these roles in the second cast. Soprano Christine Libor returns as Prima Donna/Ariadne, with Marcy Stonikas taking the role in the alternate cast. Tenors Arnold Rawls and Ric Furman, as Tenor/Bacchus, give the abandoned Ariadne a new reason to live. Lawrence Renes conducts and Chris Alexander directs a production which won him the Artist of the Year Award for 2004, with sets by Robert Dahlstrom and costumes by Cynthia Savage and Bruno Schwengl.
To learn more about the 2014/15 season, Seattle Opera offers a stunning array of websites to visit: