Cincinnati Opera Announces Lead Casting for CASTOR AND PATIENCE
Cincinnati Opera announces the casting of principal roles for composer Gregory Spears and librettist Tracy K. Smith's new opera Castor and Patience, which will have its world premiere in Cincinnati, July 16 - 26, 2020, highlighting the company's 100th anniversary season.
The title roles will be sung by soprano Latonia Moore (Patience) and bass-baritone Kevin Short (Castor). Also appearing: tenor Frederick Ballentine as Judah, soprano Janai Brugger as Wilhelmina, mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin as Celeste, and bass-baritone Davóne Tines as West. Kazem Abdullah will conduct; the stage director is Kevin Newbury. Further additions to the cast will be announced in the coming months.
The design team has also been announced: Vita Tzykun, scenic design; Jessica Jahn, costume design; Rachel Eliza Griffiths, image design; S. Katy Tucker, projection design; and Thomas C. Hase, lighting design.
Moore, Short, Ballentine, and Brugger, who are currently performing in The Metropolitan Opera's acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess, will join Martin in singing excerpts from Castor and Patience in an invitation-only event on Friday, January 17 (6 - 7 pm), as part of Opera America's New Works Forum. The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, Evans Mirageas, will join Spears, Smith, and Abdullah to discuss the opera's genesis and artistic evolution. A reception with the artists and creative team will follow. The event will take place at Baruch Performing Arts Center's Engelman Recital Hall, 55 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
Castor and Patience is Spears' most ambitious opera to date - a two-act work running more than two hours, with a cast of twelve and a 36-piece orchestra. It will be Spears' second work for Cincinnati Opera, following the extraordinary critical and popular success of Fellow Travelers, with librettist Greg Pierce, in 2016. Smith is one of the most lauded poets of her generation: a recent Poet Laureate of the United States, she won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection Life on Mars. Her original story for Castor and Patience is both timeless and topical, setting a prototypical family conflict against the backdrop of recent events.
According to Smith, "Set during the mortgage crisis of 2008, with flashbacks to 1966 as well as to the 19th Century, Castor and Patience tells the story of African American cousins who find themselves at odds over the fate of land owned by members of their family since Reconstruction. Castor has a ballooning mortgage to contend with, so cashing in on his share of the family land would save his home and maybe even his sanity. Patience has been fighting as long as she can remember to stave off overzealous developers from whittling away the history she descends from. In order to address their most pressing concerns, these characters must come to grips with the past to which their respective futures are inextricably bound.
"This work is deeply invested in the lives of characters who are fictional, but whose dramatic conflict is a real one that African American families have confronted in one way or another for centuries."
Castor and Patience will premiere at the Corbett Theater in Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts on July 16, 18, 21, 24, and 26 (matinee). During its final weekend, operagoers may also see Verdi's Aida (July 25), with an outstanding, largely African American cast, including soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams in the title role; mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller as Amneris; tenor Marco Berti as Radames; baritone Reginald Smith, Jr. as Amonasro; and bass Morris Robinson, Cincinnati Opera's recently-appointed Artistic Advisor, as Ramfis. Christopher Allen will conduct; sets and costumes are by noted designer Zandra Rhodes.
Castor and Patience is generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The New Works Forum presentation is generously supported by Opera America.