Cincinnati Opera Presents World Premiere of Spears/Smith CASTOR AND PATIENCE

Castor and Patience receives its much-anticipated world premiere in July 2022.

By: Sep. 30, 2021
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Cincinnati Opera Presents World Premiere of Spears/Smith CASTOR AND PATIENCE

Originally commissioned for Cincinnati Opera's 100th anniversary in 2020 and postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Castor and Patience receives its much-anticipated world premiere in July 2022.

With music by Gregory Spears, composer of the company's acclaimed 2016 commission Fellow Travelers, and an original libretto by Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, the opera centers on two cousins from an African American family who find themselves at odds over the fate of a historic parcel of land they have inherited in the American South. Deeply relevant to ongoing calls for racial justice, Castor and Patience probes historical and continuing obstacles to Black land ownership in the United States.

Castor and Patience will take the stage at the Corbett Theater, a 750-seat, state-of-the-art performance venue at Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts, for five performances: Friday, July 22 (7:30 p.m.), Sunday, July 24 (3 p.m.), Tuesday, July 26 (7:30 p.m.), Thursday, July 28 (7:30 p.m.), and Saturday, July 30 (7:30 p.m.).

At the podium is conductor Kazem Abdullah, and Kevin Newbury (Fellow Travelers) directs. The new production will be created by Vita Tzykun (scenic design), Jessica Jahn (costume design), Rachel Eliza Griffiths (image design), S. Katy Tucker (projection design), Thomas C. Hase (lighting design), and James Geier (wig and makeup design). A renowned interpreter of contemporary opera, soprano Talise Trevigne joins baritone Reginald Smith Jr., this year's U.S. representative at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, to sing the title roles. The opera also features a stellar supporting cast: mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano (Celeste), soprano Victoria Okafor (Willie), baritone Benjamin Taylor (West), tenor Frederick Ballentine (Judah), and soprano Raven McMillon (Ruthie). Mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams, tenor Victor Ryan Robertson, and baritone Phillip Bullock make up the opera's ensemble.

Castor and Patience is Spears' most ambitious opera to date - a two-act work running more than two hours, with a cast of 12 and a 36-piece orchestra. It is 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 former 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 and longstanding history.

Castor and Patience will run in alternation with Verdi's Aida, with a largely African American cast that features soprano Mary Elizabeth Williams in the title role; mezzo-soprano Tichina Vaughn as Amneris; tenor Gregory Kunde as Radamès; baritone Gordon Hawkins as Amonasro; and bass Morris Robinson, Cincinnati Opera's artistic advisor, as Ramfis. Crystal Manich will direct the production, and Christopher Allen will conduct. Four performances will take place: Thursday, July 21 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, July 23 (7:30 p.m.), Friday, July 29 (7:30 p.m.), and Sunday, July 31 (3 p.m.).

Other productions in Cincinnati Opera's 2022 season include Puccini's La Bohème (June 18, 23, and 25); the world premiere of Fierce by composer William Menefield and librettist Sheila Williams (July 6 and 8); and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance (July 7, 9, and 10). For further information, visit