Opera Philadelphia to Present Annual 12-Day Urban Opera Festival in September 2017
Twelve days, seven operatic happenings, six venues across the city, three world premieres, and one superstar Festival Artist: set to launch in September 2017, O - Opera Philadelphia's new annual season-opening festival - represents a radical new way to experience opera. As Daniel K. Meyer, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Opera Philadelphia, David B. Devan, General Director & President, and Annie Burridge, Managing Director, announced today, the new festival will open the company's season each fall, drawing together some of opera's most sought-after creative and performing artists for an immersion in the new American opera and innovative stagings of the classics for which Opera Philadelphia - the only American finalist for the 2015 International Opera Award for Accessibility - is fast becoming known. Opera Philadelphia will also continue to present three additional productions each spring, making it the only U.S. opera company to open an annual season with a dynamic festival.
The inaugural festival, O17, takes place from September 14-25, 2017, when the company and its collaborators will offer more than 25 performances at multiple venues across Philadelphia. A highlight of this landmark season is the World Premiere of Elizabeth Cree, a chamber opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, to be conducted by Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovarisin the Kimmel Center's intimate Perelman Theater. Underscoring the company's commitment to programming works relevant to its multicultural community, Opera Philadelphia also presents the World Premiere of We Shall Not Be Moved; developed by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph from the company's Hip H'opera program in local inner-city schools, the new opera will be directed by the legendary Bill T. Jones in the Wilma Theater. A site-specific and all-too-topical double bill pairs Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Monteverdi's prescient tale of two warriors - one Christian, one Muslim - with I Have No Stories To Tell You (2014), written in response to Monteverdi's work, by Lembit Beecher, a graduate of Opera Philadelphia's Composer in Residence program, and librettist Hannah Moscovitch. The two operas will be presented together as War Stories in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Monteverdi's masterwork will be staged in the Museum's dramatic, medieval stone cloister, with its carved limestone cornices and 12th century fountain, while audiences will experience Beecher's contemporary piece in the Museum's soaring Great Stair Hall, one of the city's most iconic civic spaces. The exclusive East Coast appearance of Barrie Kosky's playfully subversive, internationally-renowned production of Mozart's The Magic Flute will be mounted in the Academy of Music, with a free HD video broadcast at Independence National Historical Park in Opera Philadelphia's celebrated Opera on the Mallseries. As the inaugural Festival Artist, superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky will not only give a solo recital in the Perelman Theater, but also conduct a Master Class with emerging artists. And, to complete the O17 lineup, Opera Philadelphia is commissioning a short performance piece to interact with the world-class collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings on display at the Barnes Foundation, where the work will receive its World Premiere.
Heralding a fresh new direction for opera, Opera Philadelphia's festival takes the excitement and cachet of an opening night to an exponentially richer experience. The festival has been named to capture, with simple elegance, the visceral wonder of new and compelling ideas in music, voice, and performance that will open our city to opera, foster unexpected collaborations, and bring opera to new audiences and stages year after year. The inaugural festival O17 will occupy the city of Philadelphia across seven performance happenings in unique venues, creating innumerable complementary food, wine, and cultural experiences.
"For much of the past decade, Opera Philadelphia has worked tirelessly to weave the art form into the civic fabric of Philadelphia's public spaces," said Board Chairman Daniel K. Meyer, M.D. "From pop-up performances to the annual HD broadcast in front of Independence Hall to chamber operas and site-specific works, our artistic programming has evolved to complement the grand opera we continue to produce in our home base, the historic Academy of Music. In 2017, with the launch of festival O, we will bring all of those programs together in an invigorating 12-day package that will attract both opera buffs and new audiences to Philadelphia as a vital destination for experiencing opera in an exciting urban setting."