Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD

Performances run March 9–23, 2024 in Eisenhower Theater.

By: Mar. 08, 2024
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BroadwayWorld has a first look at Ramin Karimloo's operatic debut in Washington National Opera's Songbird opposite Isabel Leonard, one of America’s leading mezzo-sopranos. Songbird is a new adaptation of Jacques Offenbach’s operetta La Périchole. 

oung American baritone and the winner of the 2020 Glyndebourne Opera Cup, Edward Nelson, plays Don Andrès. The rest of the cast includes several Cafritz Young Artists, WNO’s renowned young artist training program.  

Struggling singers and lovers Songbird and Piquillo have come to Prohibition–era New Orleans during Mardi Gras where American, French, and Spanish cultures are melded together to try their luck. But the licentious mayor Don Andrès preys on their poverty and arranges a sham marriage so he can have Songbird as his mistress. Can they overcome the corrupting power of Don Andrès and his scheming cronies to find happiness?  

In adapting La Périchole for a contemporary audience, director Eric Sean Fogel, arranger/orchestrator and conductor James Lowe, and librettist Kelley Rourke find inspiration from Offenbach’s boleros and seguidillas in a new jazz–infused arrangement.

Lowe’s reimagined orchestration delivers a distinctly New Orleans sound through use of instrumentation that typifies the bands of that era: piano, bass, drums, banjo, trumpet and cornet, clarinet, trombone, and sousaphone. The libretto also juxtaposes English and French in a Big Easy fashion.  

Songbird was first staged at the 2021 Glimmerglass Festival in an outdoor setting due to COVID-19. The WNO production expands on that production with a reconfigured set by James F. Rotondo III and is performed in the Eisenhower Theater (1,161 seats). The cast is joined by a nine-piece on-stage band in a tight 75-minute performance. The intimacy of the Eisenhower gives the audience the feeling of sitting through a jazz set in a speakeasy.  

Photos by Scott Suchman

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
The cast of Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
The cast of Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
The cast of Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
The cast of Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Cecelia McKinley (Mastrilla, center), Kresley Figueroa (Berginella, left), and Teresa Perrotta (Guadalena, right) in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Edward Nelson as Don Andrés in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Isabel Leonard (Songbird) and Ramin Karimloo (Piquillo) in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Isabel Leonard (Songbird) and Ramin Karimloo (Piquillo) in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Isabel Leonard (Songbird) and Ramin Karimloo (Piquillo) in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Isabel Leonard (Songbird) in Washington National Opera's Songbird

Photos: First Look at Ramin Karimloo & Isabel Leonard in Washington National Opera's SONGBIRD
Ramin Karimloo (Piquillo), Jonathan Patton (Don Pedro), and Sahel Salam (Panatellas) in Washington National Opera's Songbird




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