Florida Grand Opera Plans Its Most Ambitious Season Yet
Under the leadership of General Director and CEO Susan T. Danis, Florida Grand Opera's 2017-18 season continues the upward trajectory of the past few seasons. The company will offer an exciting mix of works, from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, in compelling productions cast with some of the finest international singers available. The theme of the season is "Divas to Die For"-a quartet of operas that portray four women in peril who take emotionally fraught journeys and emerge from them changed forever.
The 2016-17 season earned high critical approval, with particular praise being lavished on Jorge Martín's Before Night Falls and Verdi's Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). In his review of Before Night Falls in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Robert Croan wrote, "Susan T. Danis deserves the highest praise for bringing important new repertory into every season since she took over in 2013." Writing about Un ballo in maschera, South Florida Classical Review's Lawrence Budmen called it "a world-beater...FGO's finest Verdi production in many seasons."
"We are thrilled with the critical and audience response to this past season," says Susan T. Danis. "But there's nothing to be gained by being complacent. Our success this year has only made us determined to deliver an even better season-better productions, better casting, better outreach to the community-in 2017-18."
That season opens on November 11, 2017, with Gaetano Donizetti's Scottish tragedy Lucia di Lammermoor. The score features some of the most dramatic music Donizetti ever composed, including the dazzling mad scene, a vocal obstacle course that is considered one of the ultimate tests of coloratura sopranos. Playing the heroine who is forced by her family into an arranged marriage and winds up slaughtering her bridegroom on their wedding night is the acclaimed soprano Anna Christy, whose triumphs include Gilda in Rigoletto at English National Opera, Marie in La fille du régiment, and Muffin in William Bolcom and Arnold Weinstein's A Wedding at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Recently she had great success appearing at the Metropolitan Opera as Sophie in Werther. Christy shares the role with Haeran Hong, who has appeared on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera and is the International Queen Elizabeth Grand Prize winner. Sharing the role of Edgardo, the lover whom Lucia's family maneuvers out of the way, are tenors Joshua Guerrero and Jesús León, who join the company of Juan Diego Flórez, Javier Camarena, and Marcelo Alvarez as two of today's outstanding Latino tenors. The conductor is Alexander Polianichko, who returns to FGO after his critically acclaimed leadership of the company's Eugene Onegin last winter.
On January 27, FGO's production of Richard Strauss's Salome opens. With its steamy and evocative portrayal of the decadence of King Herod's court in ancient Jerusalem, this 1905 masterpiece retains its power to stun today's audiences. Starring as the depraved princess is soprano Melody Moore, who has triumphed in many thorny modern works, including Mieczyslaw Weinberg's The Passenger at Houston Grand Opera, Janá?ek's Kát'a Kabanová at Seattle Opera, and Stephen Schwartz's Seance on a Wet Afternoon at New York City Opera. She shares the role with Kirsten Chambers, who has played Salome at the Metropolitan Opera and Opera Hong Kong. A group of first-rate singing actors fills out the cast: baritone Mark Delavan, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop, and tenor John Easterlin. Leading the orchestra is the fast-rising Timothy Myers, who last autumn scored a significant international success leading Samuel Barber's Vanessa at Wexford Festival Opera.
On March 17, FGO presents the company premiere of Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. This work, which paves the way musically from the Baroque to the age of Mozart, tells of the harrowing journey that the poet and musician Orpheus takes to the Underworld to rescue his beloved wife, Euridice. Anthony Roth Costanzo and John Holiday, two of today's blazingly talented countertenors, alternate in the role of Orfeo. Euridice is played by Cuban-American soprano Eglise Gutiérrez, well remembered by South Florida audiences for singing Massenet's Thaïs at FGO in 2014.
April 28 brings the season's final opera: Daniel Catán's lyrical masterpiece Florencia en el Amazonas. Its story of a soprano's emotional journey as she searches for her missing husband has become an audience favorite, thanks to its imaginative libretto, influenced by the writings of Gabriel García Márquez, coupled with Catán's lush, Puccini-esque score. Florencia has been an enormous hit everywhere it has played-New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and elsewhere-and now it is time for South Florida audiences to experience this melodious modern masterpiece. Soprano Ana María Martínez, acclaimed as one of the great Madame Butterflys in the recent history of the Metropolitan Opera, shares the title role with Sandra López, whose distinguished résumé includes appearances at the Met and at Venice's Gran Teatro la Fenice. Heading the supporting cast is a highly talented group of rising singers, including baritone Steven LaBrie, soprano Cecilia Violetta López, and tenor Andrew Bidlack.
"This is the kind of diverse season I have long dreamed of programming," says Susan T. Danis. "I invite our loyal subscribers, as well as those who haven't joined us in the recent past, to come along and experience our exciting season of 'Divas to Die For.'"