Ash Lawn Opera To Become Charlottesville Opera, Celebrates 40th Season

Ash Lawn Opera, Charlottesville, Virginia's premier opera company for 40 years, will become Charlottesville Opera in 2017. Imagine 1978: the downtown mall had just opened in Charlottesville and Ash Lawn Opera had its first season as a summer festival of local singers presenting opera in the boxwood garden of Ash Lawn-Highland. Since then, our city has transformed into a vibrant cultural and culinary hub and emerging tourist destination. So, too, has Ash Lawn Opera been transformed: larger scale productions, growth in quality and greater professionalism of singers, orchestra, and production and management teams. In short, ALO has changed fundamentally from an outdoor, family experience to a true theatrical experience. Eight years ago, ALO became an integral part of the Charlottesville downtown scene, moving its performances to the magnificent Paramount Theater, a venue better suited to the quality and professionalism of Ash Lawn Opera's productions and attracting more visitors to the downtown mall. To reflect this parallel development and the strength of the company's base in the local community, Ash Lawn Opera will become Charlottesville Opera. The new name not only signifies the transformation of the opera, but provides the city with an opera presence more clearly designated as its own.

The renamed Charlottesville Opera's 40th season reflects further growth in the company's ambitions. The season opened on Saturday, December 3 with a recital of opera arias and jazz performed by Jay Hunter Morris, one of today's leading Wagnerian tenors. Executive Director Kevin O'Halloran said of the occasion, "Jay's singing was superb, and the stories of his career put a human face on his artistry."

Continuing the anniversary season in March, Charlottesville Opera will present the East Coast premiere of Middlemarch in Spring, a chamber opera based on George Eliot'sMiddlemarch by composer Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens, in its first partnership with the Virginia Festival of the Book. The 2015 premiere of Middlemarch in Spring was named one of the year's most notable new musical works by Encyclopedia Britannica and one of the top 10 operatic events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle. The Charlottesville Opera production will feature several important members of the premiere cast, including world-renowned bass-baritone Philip Skinner, a veteran of many productions at the San Francisco and Metropolitan Operas. Additionally, Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch and writer at the New Yorker, will give a free lecture to ticket holders before the Friday, March 24 performance. Librettist Stevens will deliver the pre-performance lecture on Thursday, March 23. Artistic Director Michelle Krisel said, "We're proud to be able to bring this exciting new work to opera lovers throughout the region."

The summer season will bring fan-favorite Hyung Yun, who received audience acclaim as Germont in La traviata (2016), Sharpless in Madama Butterfly (2015), and Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors (2012, 2014), back to sing the title role of Verdi's tragic masterpiece Rigoletto, with a performance at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre at Virginia Tech on July 9, followed by performances at The Paramount Theater in Charlottesville on July 14, 16, and 19. This production will also feature a dynamic ensemble made up of singers from throughout Virginia. The summer will conclude with Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical Oklahoma!, featuring Charlottesville Opera's first-ever partnership with Charlottesville Ballet, the city's only professional Dance Company. Charlottesville Ballet is proud to include choreography by CB Artist Mary Hein, three professional soloists, and a student ensemble to bring the musical's rousing dance numbers to life.

The 40th Season reflects Ash Lawn Opera's transformation into Charlottesville Opera, with today's and tomorrow's stars singing both new and established works. The new name signals the company's strong base in the local community and recognizes the distance it has come. Martha Redinger, President of Charlottesville Opera, said, "We're proud of our heritage, and we thank all those who built and supported Ash Lawn Opera through the years. We're pleased to be able to signal our progress and professionalism with our new name: Charlottesville Opera."


Middlemarch in Spring - Thursday, March 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm and Friday, March 24, 2017 at 2:00 pm at The Paramount Theater. Presented in conjunction with the Virginia Festival of the Book

Rigoletto - Sunday, July 9 at the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre at Virginia Tech; Friday, July 14, Sunday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at The Paramount Theater

Oklahoma! - Saturday, July 29, Sunday, July 30, Wednesday, August 2, Friday, August 4, and Saturday, August 5, 2017 at The Paramount Theater

Tickets for Middlemarch in Spring, Rigoletto, and Oklahoma! start at $25, and will be on sale at The Paramount in the new year. Three-production and summer subscriptions will also be available.

Pre-Performance Lectures
Ticketholders are invited to an engaging and informative lecture 45 minutes before each Middlemarch in Spring, Rigoletto, and Oklahoma! performance.

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