Opera Saratoga Sets 2017 Summer Festival Program

Opera Saratoga Sets 2017 Summer Festival Program

Opera Saratoga's Artistic and General Director Lawrence Edelson announced today the three exciting new productions that will comprise the company's 2017 Summer Festival, which will build on the company's commitment to producing masterpieces from the operatic cannon, important American works, and works in which dance plays an integral role.

At the center of the 2017 Summer Festival will be a new production of Marc Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock, directed and choreographed by Edelson, and conducted by noted Maestro John Mauceri, who has been responsible for many significant operatic restorations, including Blitzstein's Regina. The Cradle Will Rock has been almost exclusively produced with piano since its infamous opening night, which was shut down by the Federal Government in 1937. Both an attack on the abuse of political power by the wealthy and a paean to labor and poor people struggling to get by, "Cradle" is as timely now as it was when it premiered in 1937. Opera Saratoga celebrates the 80th Anniversary of Blitzstein's revolutionary American labor opera in a new production that will be performed with Blitzstein's original orchestrations - the first such performances since the 1960 production at New York City Opera. Mezzo Soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson will be featured as Moll in her company debut, alongside baritone Christopher Burchett who returns to Opera Saratoga as Larry Foreman.

The Festival will open on July 1st with a new production of Verdi's comic masterpiece, Falstaff, which has not been produced by Opera Saratoga in 26 years. The production will be directed by Chuck Hudson, and will be conducted by Craig Kier. Featured singers will include bass baritone Craig Colclough, one of the country's leading interpreters of Falstaff, and acclaimed soprano Caroline Worra in her role debut as Alice Ford.

Rounding out the season will be André Grétry's Zémire et Azor (Beauty and the Beast), directed by James Ortiz, whose recent critically acclaimed production of The Woodsman was a sensation off-Broadway this past season. Grétry's 1771 opera-ballet - a favorite of Mozart - will incorporate both dance and Ortiz's signature use of puppetry in his opera-directing debut. The production will be conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya, and will feature soprano Janai Brugger and tenor Andrew Bidlack in the title roles, all in their company debuts.

In making the announcement today, Edelson stated, "Every year, my goal is to put together a season that reflects the incredible power of opera to tell vivid and compelling stories through music in very different ways. I am also committed to ensuring we provide opportunities for some of the country's most exciting emerging artists alongside preeminent artists from the world's great opera houses - providing local audiences and visitors to Saratoga Springs alike with extraordinary experiences in our intimate theater in Spa State Park."

"The Cradle Will Rock is an incredibly powerful work that I feel has been unjustly neglected by opera companies," Edelson continued. "It's edgy combination of social commentary and popular culture of the time has influenced writers and works from Leonard Bernstein's On the Town to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton. While 'Cradle' has understandably become a favorite of theater companies, Blitzstein's original orchestration deserves to be heard, and we are putting together a cast of some of the country's most exciting singers to provide a fresh look at this American masterpiece. Alongside 'Cradle' we will be presenting Grétry's enchanting version of Beauty and the Beast, which builds on our commitment to present works that incorporate dance each season;and one of the greatest works in the operatic repertoire, Verdi's Falstaff. It is season that will showcase incredible music, phenomenal singing, and riveting theater."

Complete casting for all three productions, along with additional concerts, master classes, and related Festival events, will be announced in the fall.

Subscriptions for the 2017 Summer Festival, as well as single tickets for Opera Saratoga's current 2016 season (which runs through July 17th and features Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Catán's Il Postino, and the American premiere of Glass's opera-ballet The Witches of Venice), are on sale now at www.operasaratoga.org. Single tickets for the 2017 Summer Festival will go on sale February 1st, 2017.

FEATURED ARTISTS

CONDUCTORS

Emerging American Conductor Craig Kier has already received high praise for his "Tesla-like intensity" and "impeccable orchestral support" while leading performances throughout the United States and on international stages. In the 2014-2015 season, Maestro Kier become the Director of the Maryland Opera Studio at The University of Maryland School of Music. Productions since the beginning of his tenure have included Mozart's Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, Blitzstein's Regina and Rossini's L'occasione fa il ladro. In the 2015 - 2016 season, guest engagements for Maestro Kier included his debut with Wolf Trap Opera leading Britten's Rape of Lucretia, and a return to Opera Birmingham for La traviata. He also continued his longstanding relationship with Houston Ballet, leading performances of The Nutcraker, which he has done since 2011. Engagements in the upcoming 2016-2017 season include Madama Butterfly in his debut at Arizona Opera, his debut with Opera Saratoga leading Verdi's Falstaff, and performances of The Nutcracker with Houston Ballet. As Director of the Maryland Opera Studio, he will lead productions of The Rape of Lucretia, Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, and Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld. From 2010 - 2013, Maestro Kier was Associate Conductor under Patrick Summers at Houston Grand Opera. During his time with the company he led dozens of performances including Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Die Fledermaus, Trial by Jury and the world premiere of Huang Ruo's Bound. He also assisted on productions of Otello, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, Don Carlos, La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro and Lucia di Lammermoor. Guest engagements for Maestro Kier include La bohème with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Il barbiere di Siviglia with Atlanta Opera, Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars at Glimmerglass Festival, Thomas' Hamlet with Opera Birmingham, L'italiani in Algeri with Opera Santa Barbara and The Music Man at Royal Opera House Muscat, Oman. In the summer of 2013 he served as Assistant Conductor on The Santa Fe Opera's production of La donna del lago starring Joyce DiDonato and Lawrence Brownlee. Maestro Kier began his career as part of Seattle Opera's music staff, serving in a variety of roles including Assistant Conductor, Coach/Accompanist, and Chorus Master. He has since served on the music staffs of The Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Atlanta Opera, Opera Colorado and Des Moines Metro Opera.

John Mauceri, world-renowned conductor, educator and writer, has appeared with the world's greatest opera companies and symphony orchestras, on the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood as well as at the most prestigious halls of academia. Mr. Mauceri served as music director (direttore stabile) of the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy for three years after completing seven years (22 productions and three recordings) as music director of Scottish Opera, and is the first American ever to have held the post of music director of an opera house in either Great Britain or Italy. He was music director of the Washington Opera (The Kennedy Center) as well as Pittsburgh Opera, and was the first music director of American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall after its legendary founding director, Leopold Stokowski, with whom he studied. For fifteen years he served on the faculty of his alma mater, Yale University and returned in 2001 to teach and conduct the official concert celebrating the university's 300th anniversary. In 2016, he celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Yale Symphony, which he helped to found, with concerts in New Haven and at Carnegie Hall. For 18 years, Mr. Mauceri worked closely with Leonard Bernstein and conducted many of the composer's premieres at Bernstein's request. He is the Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. Breaking all records at the Bowl, he conducted over 300 concerts at the 18,000-seat amphitheater with a total audience of four million people. For seven years (2006-2013) he served as chancellor of the University of North Carolina's School of the Arts, America's first public arts conservatory-university. He has conducted at New York's Metropolitan Opera, London's Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), Milan's Teatro alla Scala, Berlin's Deutsche Oper, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, all the major London orchestras, as well as l'Orchestre Nationale de France and the Tokyo Philharmonic. On Broadway, he was co-producer of On Your Toes and served as musical supervisor for Hal Prince's production of Candide, as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance with Bernadette Peters. He also conducted the orchestra for the film version of Evita. Deeply committed to preserving two American art forms, the Broadway musical, and Hollywood film scores, he has edited and performed a vast catalogue of restorations and first performances, including a full restoration of the original 1943 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, performing editions of Gershwin's Porgy & Bess, Girl Crazy and Strike up the Band, Bernstein's Candide and A Quiet Place, Blitzstein's Regina, and film scores by Miklos Rozsa, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman and Howard Shore. As one of two conductors in Decca Records' award-winning series "Entartete Musik," Mauceri made a number of historic first recordings of music banned by the Nazis. The intersection of the "degenerate composers" of Europe and the refugee composers of Hollywood is the subject of much of his research and his writings. In addition, Mr. Mauceri has conducted significant premieres of works by Verdi, Debussy, Hindemith, Ives, Stockhausen, Blitzstein, and Weill. In articles, speeches, radio and television appearances, John Mauceri has taken his passion for music and the importance of the arts to audiences throughout the world. These include Harvard University, Yale University, the Smithsonian Institution, the NEA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Gramophone Magazine, NPR, BBC, PBS, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post where he regularly writes a blog.

Mr. Mauceri is one of the world's most accomplished recording artists, having released over 75 audio CDs and is the recipient of Grammy, Tony, Olivier, Drama Desk, Edison Klassiek, 3 Emmy Awards, 2 Diapasons d'Or, Cannes Classique, ECHO Klassik, Billboard, and four Deutsche Schallplatten awards. In 1999, Mr. Mauceri was chosen as a "Standard-bearer of the Twentieth Century" for WQXR, the America's most-listened-to classical radio station. According to WQXR, "These are a select number of musical artists who have already established themselves as forces to be reckoned with and who will be the Standard Bearers of the 21st Century's music scene." The recipients were chosen for "their visionary talent and technical virtuosity." In addition, CNN and CNN International chose Mr. Mauceri as a "Voice of the Millennium." Mr. Mauceri was recently awarded the Ditson Conductor's Award for his five decades of commitment to performing and editing American music. He is currently writing a book on the art and alchemy of conducting for Alfred A. Knopf.

Russian-born conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya currently serves as Artistic Director with Juventas New Music Ensemble and as a conductor with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Additional engagements this season include Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, Beth Morrison Projects, American Lyric Theater, Brookline Symphony, Cabrillo Festival, the Center for Contemporary Opera in NYC, and serving as the Chorus Master for several upcoming programs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. Lidiya is also a part of Marin Alsop's Taki Concordia Fellowship and Dallas Opera's Inaugural Institute for Women Conductors. Prior engagements include serving as Music Director of Harvard's Lowell House Opera and Commonwealth Lyric Theater, and as Assistant Conductor & Chorus Master with Opera Boston. Lidiya was also a Conducting Fellow under Lorin Maazel at his Castleton Festival, where she assisted Maestro Maazel and regularly filled in for him in rehearsal and performance.

Hailed by Pulitzer Prize winner for criticism Lloyd Schwartz as a "skillful and incisive musician," Lidiya's symphonic and operatic work has received critical acclaim and numerous awards. Recent projects include San Francisco productions of Boris Godunov and Iolanta with New Opera NYC; performances with National Sawdust's Composer in Residence program; Tchaikovsky's Queen of Spades and Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream (first place, The American Prize) with Lowell House Opera; Juventas New Music's NEA-funded puppetry collaboration entitled Music in Motion; the world premiere performances and recording of the ballet HackPolitik; Rachmaninoff's Aleko with Commonwealth Lyric Theater (winner of National Opera Association Award for Best Production in the Professional Category), Rimsky-Korsakov's Snegurochka (the first fully-staged, Russian-language production of the opera in the U.S. and the work's New England premiere); and the world premiere of Isaac Schankler's Light and Power with Juventas (winner of The National Opera Association Award and The American Prize for best professional production).


DIRECTORS

The 2017 Summer Festival at Opera Saratoga will mark the third season under Lawrence Edelson's leadership as Artistic and General Director. As a stage director Lawrence's work has been praised for the ability to fuse vivid story telling with deeply expressive imagery. He has been praised by Opera Now magazine as doing a "splendid job of making [opera] relevant and understandable" and his productions have been called "ingenious" and "imaginative" by Opera News, "starkly vivid" by The New York Times, and "stunningly touching and entertaining" by the Washington Post. These diverse productions have included the American premiere of Telemann's Orpheus for Wolf Trap Opera, Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox for Fort Worth Opera, La Traviata for The Minnesota Opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia for Hawaii Opera Theater, Carmen for Toledo Opera, the world premiere of Buried Alive (Myers/Long) for Fargo Moorhead Opera, and the New York premiere of Fauré's rarely produced Pénélope for Manhattan School of Music. He was a guest member on the directing staff of New York City Opera, where he restaged Little Women twice: for the work's Lincoln Center premiere and for the company's tour to Japan. From 2008 to 2012, Lawrence was also a faculty member at the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, where he led seminars on American opera, and directed original productions of Little Women, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Werther, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Eugene Onegin. Before focusing on directing and arts administration, Lawrence enjoyed a performing career in both ballet and opera. He studied voice and musicology at The University of Ottawa and dance at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. As a dancer, he performed with Boston Ballet, Ballet West, and BalletMet Columbus. He has choreographed for ballet and opera companies around the country. As a singer, he appeared in opera, oratorio and musical theater internationally. Lawrence completed his master's degree in performing arts administration at New York University. In the opera field, Lawrence is perhaps best known as the founder of American Lyric Theater (ALT). As Producing Artistic Director at ALT, a position he continues to hold concurrent with his position at Opera Saratoga, he coordinates the company's diverse artistic programs including The Composer Librettist Development Program, commissioning of new works, and co-production relationships. Recent projects at ALT include the development of The Long Walk (Beck/Fleischmann), which premiered at Opera Saratoga in 2015; and JFK (Little/Vavrek), which premiered at Fort Worth Opera in 2016. A tireless advocate for emerging artists and the diversification of audiences for opera, Edelson serves on the Strategy Committee for OPERA America, and continues to forge collaborations with opera companies across the country.

Chuck Hudson has directed opera productions at major international companies including Cape Town Opera (South Africa), Cincinnati Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Minnesota Opera, Sacramento Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera Cleveland, Seattle Opera, San Francisco Opera Center, Wolf Trap Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara, among others. He has directed award winning theatre productions in New York and regionally, including The Pearl Theatre, The Chester Theater, Cape May Stage, The Children's Theatre Festival of Houston, New City Theatre, and Chicago's Fox Valley Shakespeare Festival. Chuck's work as a director was mentioned in the January 2011 Edition of American Theatre Magazine. In the 2016-2017 season, Chuck will lead productions for Hawaii Opera Theatre (La bohème), Atlanta Opera (Don Pasquale) and Opera Saratoga (Falstaff). In addition to directing professional artists, Chuck continues to focus on his work with artists in training. He was a co-creator of Seattle Opera's Young Artist Program where he directed productions as well as created and instructed specialized classes on Acting and Movement for singers. Chuck has directed productions at San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, Santa Fe Opera's Apprentice Artist Program, Florida Grand Opera's Resident Artist Program, IU Opera Theatre, CCM Opera Theatre, AVA Opera Theater, BU Opera Institute, USC-Thornton Opera, Music Academy of the West, Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts, Carnegie-Mellon Opera Theatre, and Manhattan School of Music Opera Theater. He was guest professor of Advanced Acting at Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, professor at the University of Houston School of Theatre, at Cornish College of the Arts, and was an annual Adjunct Faculty Artist at North Carolina School of the Arts Theatre Department and Fletcher Opera Institute, at Westminster Choir College and, was a Schmidbauer Guest Artist-Stage Director at Stephen F Austin University's Theater Department. Chuck also uses his enormous experience as a performer, director, and coach in his many Master Classes and private coachings at various Professional Artist Training Programs for singers and actors. He is also in great demand as a private audition coach in New York City, coaching both opera and musical theater performers. For 7 years Chuck was Artistic Director of The Immediate Theatre in Seattle: a physically based company committed to the creation of visually exciting dramatic works. Chuck's specialty in movement comes from a background in gymnastics as well as being one of three Americans to have received a diploma from the Marcel Marceau International School of Mimedrama in Paris. He is the only American to be appointed to teach at Marceau's School, and he performed with Marceau on his 1991 European Tour and in Klaus Kinski's film "Paganini". Chuck also studied at the Paris School for Theatrical Fencing and was awarded an Honorary Diploma from the French Academy of Arms. Acting roles include Orsino in Twelfth Night, Brutus in Julius Caesar, and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew with the Seattle Shakespeare Festival, and Caliban in The Tempest with his own Immediate Theatre.

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