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21C Media Group Previews 2017-18 Season of Opera, Choral and Vocal Music

21C Media Group Previews 2017-18 Season of Opera, Choral and Vocal Music

21C Media Group has announced highlights from its 2017-18 selection of opera, vocal and choral music, featuring concerts, special events, broadcasts and recordings. Scroll down for details!


Aug 31 - April 20
FABIO LUISI opens his second season as Principal Conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra with a performance of Mahler's Eighth Symphony. His first tour with the orchestra to the U.S. was this past spring, about which San Jose's Mercury News declared, "He didn't disappoint. Luisi ... is a precise, energetic conductor, and he led his Danish players in vibrant, dynamic performances." Also with the orchestra this season Luisi gives his first performance of Carl Nielsen's Fifth Symphony, in a concert that also includes German violinist Julia Fischer playing Hans Werner Henze's Second Violin Concerto. In addition, he leads Franz Schmidt's mammoth apocalyptic oratorio Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln in December, as well as performances of Beethoven and Bruckner later in the season. Click here to see Luisi discuss the Schmidt, and here to hear the details of his love affair with Carl Nielsen. [Mahler: Aug 31, Sep 1; Nielsen: Sep 7, 8; Beethoven: Dec 14, 15, March 1, 2; Schmidt: Dec 21; Bruckner: April 20; Copenhagen]


Sep 6-9
'Myths and Legends' is the theme of the 6th annual Collaborative Work Festival, presented by the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, of which tenor NICHOLAS PHAN is Artistic Director and co-founder. Performing at the festival alongside Phan are singers Sarah Shafer, Douglas Williams and Susanna Phillips (who headlines the festival's annual solo recital), and pianists Myra Huang and CAIC co-founder Shannon McGinnis. Among the recital programs are Schubert Lieder retelling the myths of ancient Greece as recounted by the great German Romantic poets Mayrhofer, Schiller and Goethe, as well as a program of fantastical legends by composers ranging from Schumann and Duparc to Jake Heggie. [Sep 6, 7, 8, 9; Chicago]

Sep 9
Grammy Award-winning mezzo Susan Graham - "an artist to treasure" (New York Times) - headlines the Houston Symphony's opening-night concert, singing favorite show tunes and arias from her signature stage roles, under the baton of Gustavo Gimeno. [Houston, TX]

Sep 9 - Oct 21
Tenor Stephen Costello makes his Paris Opera debut as Camille in Lehár's Merry Widow, a role he has sung to great acclaim at New York's Met. As the New York Observer noted, "tenor Stephen Costello sang with big, full tone and a firm sense of the swooping, darting style of Lehár." [Sep 9, 12, 16, 20, 22, 24, 28, 30, Oct 5, 9, 11, 15, 18, 21: Paris]

Sep 12-14; March 20-24
TRINITY CHURCH WALL STREET presents its annual "Time's Arrow" festival in two parts this season, centered on the music of Austrian composer Anton Webern, whose relatively small output arguably did more to shape the direction of contemporary music than either his mentor Schoenberg or his fellow student Alban Berg. The complete catalog of Webern's works will provide the focus for concerts that also juxtapose examples of his early music influences, Isaac, Tallis, Senfl and more, with many of the post-war composers he influenced in turn. [TC/SPC]

Sep 14-25
OPERA PHILADELPHIA presents O17, the inaugural edition of its game-changing new annual season-opening festival. A twelve-day immersion held at six venues across the city, this has already been welcomed as "a bold move aimed at making Philadelphia a compelling stop on the opera-lover circuit" (Philadelphia Inquirer) that promises to "blanket the city with opera" (Washington Post). Highlighting the festival are three world premieres: Elizabeth Cree, a chamber opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, produced in collaboration with London's Hackney Empire; We Shall Not Be Moved, an interdisciplinary co-commission and co-production with Harlem's Apollo Theater and the Hackney Empire from the creative team of Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist and spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and director-choreographer-dramaturge Bill T. Jones; and The Wake World, a musical journey through the art collections of Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation from composer-in-residence David Hertzberg. Complementing the new works are the exclusive East Coast presentation of Barrie Kosky's take on Mozart's The Magic Flute, and the Philadelphia premiere of War Stories, a site-specific and topical pairing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Monteverdi's prescient tale of Christian and Muslim warriors, with I Have No Stories To Tell You, a modern response to it by composer-in-residence program alumnus Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch. To complete the O17 lineup, there will be a free HD video broadcast in Opera Philadelphia's celebrated Opera on the Mall series, and inaugural Festival Artist, superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, gives both a solo recital and a masterclass. [Sep 14, 16, 19, 21, 23: Elizabeth Cree; Sep 15, 17, 20, 22, 24: The Magic Flute; Sep 16, 17, 19, 21, 23: War Stories; Sep 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24: We Shall Not Be Moved; Sep 17, 18: Sondra Radvanovsky recital and masterclass; Sep 18, 19, 23, 24, 25: The Wake World]

Sep 17, 19
Grammy Award-winner FABIO LUISI wears two hats as both conductor and composer when he leads the world premiere of his Saint Bonaventure Mass at New York's St. Bonaventure University, followed two days later by its New York City premiere at the Met Cloisters Museum as part of the MetLiveArts series. The new work, which will be performed by members of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus under the direction of Adam Luebke, commemorates the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, one of the most influential theologians of the Middle Ages. [Sep 17: Allegany, NY; Sep 19: Cloisters, NYC]

Sep 22
The first orchestra to issue its own recordings, the LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA now makes its debut with Music Director Teddy Abrams on the Decca Gold label with an album titled All In. Exploring relationships between American popular styles, as well as the orchestra's role in 21st-century American culture, the recording also showcases Abrams's talents as composer, conductor and clarinetist. He conducts and plays the solo part in Copland's Clarinet Concerto; teams up with chanteuse Storm Large, who performs songs by herself, Abrams and Cole Porter; and conducts his own ballet, Unified Field, a work he and the orchestra performed in a special collaboration last season with the Louisville Ballet. [Decca Gold]

Sep 29 - Oct 1
Creator and librettist CERISE JACOBS - whose Ouroboros Trilogy, produced last September, was "the most ambitious opera undertaking Boston has ever seen" (Berkshire Fine Arts) - presents the world premiere of her new opera, REV. 23, composed by Trinity Church Wall Street Director of Music Julian Wachner, at Boston's John Hancock Theater, as the centerpiece and opening show of the first Boston New Music Festival. The opera marks a first outing for Jacobs's newly reconfigured Production Company, White Snake Projects, headed by Boston producer Georgia Lyman with Jacobs as Executive Producer. The opera will be directed by West Edge Opera Artistic Director Mark Streshinsky, and conducted by BNMF founder Lidiya Yankovskaya. [Sep 29, 30; Oct 1: Boston]


Oct 12-21
Conductor SIR John Eliot GARDINER's seven-month, 14-City "Monteverdi 450" world tour draws to a triumphant conclusion when he leads the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists in concert performances of all three of the Venetian master's surviving operas - L'Orfeo, Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, and L'incoronazione di Poppea - at Chicago's Harris Theater and New York's Alice Tully Hall. Launched this past April in Aix-en-Provence, the tour marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi, long recognized as the father of opera. [Oct 12: L'Orfeo, Harris Theater; Oct 13: Ulisse, Harris Theater; Oct 15: Poppea, Harris Theater; Oct 18: L'Orfeo, ATH; Oct 19: Ulisse, ATH; Oct 21: Poppea, ATH]

Oct 14 - Nov 19
"A newly important force in American opera" (Los Angeles Times), LA OPERA launches the season with the company premiere of Verdi's Nabucco, directed by 2016 Golden Mask-winner Thaddeus Strassberger. General Director Plácido Domingo stars alongside Liudmyla Monastyrska and Morris Robinson, with Music Director James Conlon on the podium. [Oct 14, Nov 2, 5, 8, 11, 19: Los Angeles]

Oct 26-28
After winning acclaim in the Boston Symphony's Der Rosenkavalier last season, Susan Graham returns to the orchestra in the signature role of Marguerite in Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust, with Charles Dutoit on the podium. The mezzo's expertise in French music has been recognized with a "Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur" from the French government. [Oct 26, 27, 28: Boston]

Oct 28 - June 8
Stephen Costello embarks on a busy season in Germany that includes two further debuts: he sings for the first time at Dresden Opera, as Rodolfo in La bohème (Oct/Nov), and makes his first appearance with the Munich Philharmonic, in Dvorak's Stabat Mater (April). He returns to Dresden Opera and Deutsche Opera Berlin in the spring, portraying Rigoletto's Duke of Mantua in both houses. [Oct 28, 30, Nov 4: Dresden; April 12, 13, 15: Munich; March 30, April 3, May 25, 30, June 8: Dresden; May 3, 7, 11: Berlin]


Nov 4
Gifted young Music Director Teddy Abrams - a prolific and award-winning composer - leads the LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA in the world premiere of his one-act opera, The Greatest: Muhammad Ali. With local hip-hop artist Jecorey "1200" Arthur among the soloists, this musical celebration and tribute to the extraordinary life and impact of the legendary athlete, humanitarian and Louisville native was presented in excerpts at the second annual Festival of American Music in April 2017, and is here heard for the first time in its entirety. [Louisville, KY]

Nov 5-24
In his sixth season as General Director of Zurich Opera, FABIO LUISI leads a new production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny, with Finnish soprano Karita Mattila making her house debut as the Widow Begbick, and German soprano Annette Dasch in her role debut as Jenny. [Nov 5, 9, 12, 14, 17, 19, 22, 24: Zurich]

Nov 9-18
Having recorded excerpts from Cilea's tragedy on her 2016 solo release Verismo, hailed as "a landmark in [her] remarkable growth" (Associated Press), Anna Netrebko makes her company role debut in David McVicar's sumptuous treatment of Adriana Lecouvreur at the Vienna State Opera. She was recently named a Kammersängerin, Austria's highest honor for opera singers. [Nov 9, 12, 15, 18: Vienna]


Dec 7 - Jan 5
Anna Netrebko headlines her second La Scala season-opening by making her role debut as Maddalena opposite her husband, Yusif Eyvazov, as the title character in Giordano's Andrea Chénier. The new production by Mario Martone is led by Riccardo Chailly on the podium. [Dec 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22; Jan 2, 5: Milan]

Dec 10
Returning to Carnegie Hall for a second year, the Richard Tucker MUSIC FOUNDATION presents its annual gala, always a highlight of New York's opera season. The concert features 2017 Tucker Award-winner, soprano Nadine Sierra, alongside a lineup of opera luminaries such as Bryn Terfel, Javier Camarena, and Stephanie Blythe. A post-concert gala dinner will be held at the Plaza Hotel. [CH]

Dec 11 - Feb 23
Stephen Costello's winter season takes him back over the Atlantic to Spain, where he sings Rodolfo in Puccini's La bohème at Madrid's Teatro Real (Dec/Jan), and then to the Canadian Opera Company, where he portrays Verdi's Duke of Mantua in Toronto (Jan/Feb). [Dec 11, 14, 17, 19, 23, 26, 29, Jan 2, 4, 7: Madrid; Jan 20, 27, Feb 1, 4, 6, 9, 21, 23: Toronto]

Dec 14 - Jan 11
Susan Graham reprises her "vivacious and creamy-voiced" (New York Times) account of the title role in Susan Stroman's take on Lehár's The Merry Widow at the Metropolitan Opera. [Dec 14, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30; Jan 2, 5, 11: Met]

Dec 15-18
TRINITY CHURCH WALL STREET - whose annual "revivifying holiday performances of Handel's 'Messiah' ... set the New York standard" (New York Times) - reprises its critically acclaimed, historically informed, period-instrument rendition of Handel's most beloved oratorio. After two performances at Trinity Church, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, led by Director of Music Julian Wachner, perform the work uptown at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, in what has, in recent years, become a new holiday tradition. [Dec 15, 17: TCW; Dec 18: ATH]

Dec 16
Popular New York-based early music ensemble TENET, led by soprano Jolle Greenleaf, restarts a CARAMOOR holiday concert tradition, making its debut at the Westchester estate with a program of traditional Christmas music. Tours of the Rosen House will be available prior to the concert, as well as other holiday treats and festivities. [Katonah, NY]


Jan 18, 20
MICHAEL HERSCH - who composes "masterly modernist music of implacable seriousness" (New Yorker) - takes his monodrama On the Threshold of Winter to a new production in Chicago, with Ensemble Dal Niente and soprano Ah Young Hong reprising her role as the work's "blazing, lone star" (New York Times). [Chicago]

Jan 29 - Feb 1
NOVA Chamber Music Series, in collaboration with other arts organizations in Salt Lake City, presents "American Visionary," a week-long festival devoted to the music of the extraordinary American composer MICHAEL HERSCH. Hailed as "a natural musical genius who continues to surpass himself" (Washington Post), Hersch will be in Utah serving as the Maurice Abravanel Distinguished Visiting Composer at the University of Utah School of Music, where he will present lectures and teach composition students. Works to be performed in the festival include his two-and-a-half hour solo piano piece The Vanishing Pavilions, Last Autumn for horn and cello, and his monodrama On the Threshold of Winter, which also makes its Chicago debut earlier in January. [Jan 29, 30, 31, Feb 1: Salt Lake City, UT]


Feb 3
A program titled "War + Peace" shows the range and creativity of the LOUISVILLE ORCHESTRA's programming, as dynamic Music Director Teddy Abrams leads a concert ranging from Monteverdi's Madrigals of War and Love to Schoenberg's dramatic cantata A Survivor from Warsaw for men's chorus, narrator and orchestra. Works by Barber, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Mahler, Ives, Prokofiev, Arvo Pärt and Kurt Weill fill out the program, as well as a world premiere by Sebastian Chang. [Louisville, KY]

Feb 9-11
NICHOLAS PHAN is the first singer to serve as the guest artistic director of the Laguna Beach Music Festival; his predecessors include Edgar Meyer, Joshua Bell, Jennifer Koh and Johannes Moser. In the first of three concerts, Phan explores one of the most fruitful musical relationships of all time - that between Robert and Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The following night's program features the world premiere of a multimedia event built around Leoš Janácek's powerful Diary of One Who Disappeared. For the third and final concert Phan is joined by special guests for a musical road-trip through the great American songbook, including songs from Bernstein and Copland to Broadway, Joan Baez, and Lennon & McCartney. [Feb 9, 10, 11: Laguna Beach, CA]

Feb 9-18; April 27 - May 6
Recognized as "the very model of a modern opera company" (Washington Post), OPERA PHILADELPHIA rounds out its season of firsts with back-to-back new productions from a pair of award-winning directors. Will Kerley helms the Philadelphia premiere of George Benjamin's critical sensation Written on Skin, starring Anthony Roth Costanzo; and Scotland's Paul Curran offers an original treatment of Bizet's beloved Carmen, with Elizabeth Cree's Daniela Mack in the title role. [Written on Skin: Feb 9, 11, 16, 18; Carmen: April 27, 29, May 2, 4, 6; Philadelphia]

Feb 19 - May 25
To inaugurate the new Noack organ in St. Paul's Chapel, TRINITY CHURCH WALL STREEThosts the annual American Guild of Organist's President's Day Conference on February 19, followed by a week of organ recitals and concerti with performers to include Paul Jacobs. The finale concert, featuring The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY led by Director of Music Julian Wachner, will be a program of Psalm-based works by Wachner, Leonard Bernstein, and Lukas Foss. The new organ will be further showcased by Friday "Pipes at One" concerts throughout the spring, and Trinity's beloved Monday "Bach at One" performances will likewise resume, beginning February 26. [SPC]

Feb 21-28
On the heels of her triumph as Verdi's Violetta at La Scala last season, Anna Netrebko brings the one-time signature role out of retirement to star opposite Charles Castronovo and Plácido Domingo in Benoît Jacquot's treatment of La traviata at the Paris Opera. [Feb 21, 25, 28: Paris]

MARCH 2018

March 10-25
A living legend in the dance world, John Neumeier directs, choreographs and designs Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice for LA OPERA. Showcasing the virtuoso dancers of the Joffrey Ballet, his new production stars Maxim Mironov and Lisette Oropesa under the leadership of James Conlon. [March 10, 15, 18, 21, 24, 25: Los Angeles]

March 22-24
Soprano Deborah Voigt returns to Vero Beach for the third Deborah Voigt/VBO Foundation International Vocal Competition. Named last year as the new Artistic Advisor to Vero Beach Opera, Voigt offers the company advice and expertise related to repertoire, casting and production. Also, in addition to being a judge for her eponymous vocal competition, she gives masterclasses and performances and lends creative support to the foundation's fundraising initiatives. [March 22, 23, 24: Vero Beach; FL)

March 25 - April 7
When Anna Netrebko sang Lady Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera, "you knew the role was hers" (New York Times). Now Verdi's anti-heroine is the vehicle for her return to London's Royal Opera House, where she stars in Phyllida Lloyd's staging of Macbeth under the baton of Antonio Pappano. The penultimate performance will be transmitted live to select cinemas in the UK and Europe. [March 25, 28, 31; April 4, 7: London]

APRIL 2018

April 5 - June 2
In celebration of Leonard Bernstein's centennial, TRINITY CHURCH WALL STREET devotes its Thursday Concerts at One series in April and May to "Bernstein 100," followed by a three-day, five-concert series finale. The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY, under the baton of Julian Wachner, present a range of works by Bernstein, many of them vocal, contextualized by works of other New York composer-conductors: Gustav Mahler, Lukas Foss, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Wachner himself. [SPC, TC]

April 12
NICHOLAS PHAN, who serves as artist-in-residence with San Francisco Performances this season, gives a recital with pianist Myra Huang. His program will explore music of the Belle Époque, including Fauré's La bonne chanson and Debussy's Ariettes oubliées, which Phan will record for release on Avie Records in the first half of 2018. [San Francisco]

April 21 - July 13
Anna Netrebko makes her title role debut opposite Marcelo Álvarez in David McVicar's new production of Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera House, before joining Joseph Calleja and Thomas Hampson for a revival of Luc Bondy's treatment of the Puccini masterpiece at the Bavarian State Opera. [April 21, 26, 30, May 4, 8, 12: Met; July 9, 13: Munich]

April 26, 28
NICHOLAS PHAN - "an artist who must be heard" (NPR) - sings the title role in Leonard Bernstein's Candide, the work that inspired Phan to pursue a career in opera. When Phan starred in Tanglewood's first performance of Bernstein's enchanting operetta, in 2014, the Philadelphia Enquirer reported that he "sang the title role as art song, intelligently mining the words to achieve great depth of feeling while never robbing the music of its sparkle. A seasoned Candide-ologist, I've never heard such a comprehensive characterization. ... Phan gave the show an anchor and a soul." Phan joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for this concert performance led by Bramwell Tovey. [Toronto]

MAY 2018

May 1, 20
After making her West End debut in London this summer, singer/actress Audra McDonald - the most decorated performer in American theater, with a record six Tonys, two Grammys, an Emmy, and a National Medal of Arts - returns to headline the New York Philharmonic's spring gala. This starry event highlights a U.S. concert tour that also takes the singer to Boston's Symphony Hall (April 13), Washington's Kennedy Center (June 19), and LA OPERA (May 20), where she sings favorite show tunes, classic songs, and original pieces written especially for her with the LA Opera Orchestra. [May 1, DGH; May 20: Los Angeles]

May 26
LA OPERA presents the West Coast premiere of Crossing by Artist-in-Residence Matthew Aucoin, "the young composer taking classical music by storm" (NPR). A haunting and compassionate response to Walt Whitman's experiences in the Civil War, this will be mounted in a special concert performance starring baritone Rod Gilfry - "the singer of choice for new American operas" (New York Times) - under the composer's direction. [Los Angeles]

May 27 - June 28
Zurich Opera General Director FABIO LUISI leads his second new production of the season with Verdi's La forza del destino. Zurich Opera General Manager Andreas Homoki, whose many collaborations with Luisi have given them the reputation of being "almost a 'dream team'" (Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen), directs the production, and Abkhazian-Russian soprano Hibla Gerzmava makes her house role debut as Leonora. [May 27, 30; June 2, 7, 13, 17, 20, 28: Zurich]

JUNE 2018

June 8-22
The Ojai Festival will present the world premiere of a dramatic cantata for two sopranos and eight instrumentalists by featured composer MICHAEL HERSCH. The piece will then be performed at Cal Performances' "Ojai at Berkeley" and the Aldeburgh Festival. The new work is a co-commission by the Ojai Music Festival, Cal Performances Berkeley, the Aldeburgh Festival, and PN Review, the prominent British poetry magazine at which Hersch is artist-in-residence. [June 8: Ojai, CA; June 15: Berkeley, CA; June 22: Aldeburgh, UK]

June 22, 24
LA OPERA stages a ghostly double bill from Gordon Getty, "one of the sanest composers on the planet" (American Record Guide). Starring Dominic Armstrong and Keith Phares, this pairs the West Coast premiere of The Canterville Ghost, a comic spin on Oscar Wilde's classic novella, with the company premiere of Usher House, an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's chilling Gothic tale. [Los Angeles]

Abbreviations for New York City concert venues are as follows:
ATH = Alice Tully Hall
CH = Carnegie Hall
Cloisters = Met Cloisters Museum
DGH = David Geffen Hall
Met = Metropolitan Opera
SPC = St Paul's Chapel
TC = Trinity Church

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