Hudson Hall & Stage Director R.B. Schlather Announce Second Opera In HANDEL ON THE HUDSON Series

Tickets go on sale to members June 20, 2024; on sale to the public January 2025.

By: Jun. 20, 2024
Hudson Hall & Stage Director R.B. Schlather Announce Second Opera In HANDEL ON THE HUDSON Series
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Visionary opera director and Hudson resident R.B. Schlather reunites with early music band Ruckus in April 2025 for six performances of Handel's baroque blockbuster GIULIO CESARE at Hudson Hall in Hudson, New York.

Repeating the successful alchemy of RODELINDA (2023), Schlather brings together area residents, rising young stars, and some of today's finest baroque interpreters to share his passion for Handel in the intimacy of New York State's oldest surviving theater. As R.B. is known to say: "I think Handel is the greatest opera composer, full stop.” 

Led by sought-after American countertenor Randall Scotting as Cesare and rising young star Song Hee Lee as Cleopatra, the production also features 2024 Met Opera Finalist Meridian Prall as Cornelia, Bard Music Conservatory alumni Chuanyuan Liu as Tolomeo and Rolfe Dauz as Curio, and area residents Matthew Deming as Nireno, Raha Mirzadegan as Sesto, and Douglas Williams as Achilla. The young, conductorless period instrument ensemble Ruckus features a dozen of some of the top baroque instrumentalists working today. In his New York Times review of last year's Rodelinda at Hudson Hall, Joshua Barone called Ruckus "stars," and continued: "With a mercurial, almost improvisatory spirit that responded to the drama in real time, they played with the fieriness and emotional charge of verismo." Ruckus's core is a continuo group, the baroque equivalent of a jazz rhythm section: guitars, keyboards, cello, bassoon, and bass, joined by violin, flute, and oboe.

The creative team includes Joseph Cermatori as dramaturg, costume design by Terese Wadden and lighting by Masha Tsimring, scenic associate Erica Zhang, hair and makeup by Matia Emsellem, supertitles by Steven Jude Tietjen, assistant director Michael Hoffmann.

This second installment in Schlather's ‘Handel on the Hudson' series is eagerly anticipated. After The New York Times' chief music critic Zachary Woolfe called the initial announcement “the best news in a while for the New York opera scene,” The New York Times' classical music critic Joshua Barone praised Schlather's RODELINDA as “worthy of a multi-year commitment to Handel.” Critic Seth Rogovoy commended the creative team of RODELINDA for investing their interpretation with “the kind of punk aesthetic and dynamic that made the nearly three-hour performance feel urgent, contemporary, and incredibly fun,” and The Berkshire Eagle's Evan Berkowitz wrote: “Rodelinda gave us the sort of opera we don't often get in our region: not just fully staged, but fully realized." 

Place and talent are crucial ingredients in realizing Schlather's vision. As Barone noted in his review, Hudson Hall is “surprisingly ideal for the intimacy of Handel,” setting it apart from the large New York City opera houses. Schlather, who lives just a few streets away from Hudson Hall, sources many of his collaborators from the local area and surrounding region, tapping a rich network of talent and partnerships right in his own backyard. Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in nearby Tivoli, NY joins as a cultural partner, and is where the cast will be in residence for the month of March. This sense of community extends to Schlather's audiences—many of whom are introduced to opera through his work. In addition to the six performances, Schlather plans additional open rehearsal hours to allow even more audiences an entree into the power of opera.

“R.B. Schlather's love of Handel and ability to connect with a new generation of musicians, creatives, and audiences creates an experience that is undeniably fresh and vital,” says Hudson Hall Executive Director Tambra Dillon. “It's the future of opera—and it's spectacular. We expect nothing less for GIULIO CESARE in 2025.”


April 19, 23 (matinee), 26, 27 (matinee), 30 (matinee), May 2, 2025
Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House
327 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534

Opera by G.F. Handel, premiered at the King's Theatre in London, 1724
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Tickets go on sale to members June 20, 2024; on sale to the public January 2025

Direction and Production by R. B. Schlather*


Randall Scotting, Cesare*
Song Hee Lee, Cleopatra
Chuanyuan Liu, Tolomeo*
Meridian Prall, Cornelia
Raha Mirzadegan, Sesto*
Douglas Williams, Archilla*
Matthew Deming, Nireno
Rolfe Dauz, Curio*


Doug Balliett, bass
David Dickey, oboe
Joseph Monticello, flute
Elliot Figg, harpsichord
Coleman Itzkoff, cello
Ravenna Lipchik, violin
Paul Holmes Morton, guitar/theorbo
Manami Mizumoto, violin
Rebecca Nelson, violin
Jessica Troy, viola (Stephen Goist on the final two shows)
Nate Udell, horn


Associate Producer: Daniel Stermer
Scenic Associate: Erica Zhang
Costume Design: Terese Wadden*
Lighting Design: Masha Tsimring
Dramaturg: Joseph Cermatori*
Supertitles: Steven Jude Tietjen
Hair and Makeup Design: Matia Emsellem*
Assistant Director: Michael Hoffmann*
Music Staff: David Sytkowski*

Residency in partnership with Kaatsbaan Cultural Park*

*Regional ties

R.B. Schlather

R.B. Schlather is an American artist and opera director, associated with immersive installations and unconventional stagings that push the boundaries of traditional operatic performance. His work has been praised for challenging norms and creating new and engaging experiences for audiences. In 2023 he was profiled in The New York Times as a rare American opera director bringing “fresh visions to Europe's opera stages.”

In the 2024/25 season he returns to Oper Frankfurt for a premiere of Verdi's Macbeth conducted by Thomas Guggeis and starring Nicholas Brownlee and Tamara Wilson. Previous productions for Oper Frankfurt include Puccini's Madama Butterfly (2022, 2023), Cimarosa's L'Italiana in Londra (2021, 2024) released on Blu-ray/DVD by Naxos, and Handel's Tamerlano (2019, 2022). 

Recent highlights include a double bill of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Britten's Rape of Lucretia for the Shepherd School of Music with conductor Ben Manis, and Handel's Rodelinda (New York Times critic's pick 2023) commissioned by Hudson Hall in Hudson, NY. This was the first in a series of Handel productions Schlather has been commissioned to produce for the historic theater in collaboration with the early music band Ruckus. And it continues his interest in exploring the composer's work in alternative spaces. Alcina (2014) and Orlando (2015) were presented as process art installations in galleries on the Lower East Side, live-streamed and open to the public (The New York Times: “a valuable project that deserves enthusiastic support,” “a gift given to the NY cultural scene.”) Ariodante (2016) was presented as an open process salon during his artist residency at Brooklyn's National Sawdust, and later at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art as part of Opera Omaha's 2018 ONE Festival. And in 2019, Schlather made his European debut at Oper Frankfurt with an immersive, site-specific production of Tamerlano for the city's Bockenheimer Depot warehouse. This was a critical success and audience favorite and revived for their 2022/23 season.

Other career highlights include Cosi fan tutte at The Santa Fe Opera conducted by Harry Bickett (“Revelation of the summer season” - The Wall Street Journal), Fluxconcert for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, co-curated with conductor Christopher Rountree (The New Yorker Best Performances 2018), The Mother of Us All at Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House (one of the "Best Classical Music Performances of 2017" - The New York Times), the world premiere of composer David Hertzberg's The Wake World conceived for The Barnes Foundation as part of the inaugural Opera Philadelphia O Festival (Best New Opera 2017 Music Critics Association of North America), John Adams' Doctor Atomic at Curtis Opera Theater, Philip Glass and Robert Moran's The Juniper Tree at Wolf Trap Opera, Philip Glass' Madrigal Opera at National Sawdust with Choral Chameleon, Philip Glass' In The Penal Colony at Boston Lyric Opera (The New York Times' Best Performances 2015), and Salome at Fisher Center at Bard with conductor Leon Botstein.

Schlather has directed performances for Oper Frankfurt, The Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gran Theatre del Liceu, National Sawdust, Fisher Center Bard, Tanglewood Music Festival, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Omaha, Wolf Trap Opera, Curtis Institute of Music, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, IlluminArts, and at the Perez Art Museum Miami, The School | Jack Shainman Gallery, Barnes Foundation, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bockenheimer Depot, Hudson Opera House, Bemis Center for the Arts, White Box Art Center, Boston Center for the Arts. He has been interviewed by the New York Times, San Francisco Classical Voice, Out Magazine, New Yorker Magazine, Huffington Post, Upstate Diary, I Care if you Listen, Clyde Fitch Report, VAN Magazine, WQXR Radio, and podcasts for Basilica Hudson and IndieOpera. He was an Artist-in-residence at National Sawdust for 2016/17 season, and an Emerging artist during Boston Lyric Opera's 2014/15 season. He has taught at Curtis Institute of Music, New York University Tisch School of the Arts, The Banff Center for Arts and Creativity, and Ithaca College, where he received a BA in Art History and minor in drama. He is a member of AGMA, and is represented by Opus 3 Artists. 

Ruckus is a shapeshifting, collaborative baroque ensemble with a visceral and playful approach to early music. Described as “the world's only period-instrument rock band” (San Francisco Classical Voice), Ruckus' core is a continuo group, the baroque equivalent of a jazz rhythm section: guitars, keyboards, cello, bassoon and bass. The NYC-based ensemble aims to fuse the early-music movement's questing, creative spirit with the grit, groove and jangle of American roots music, creating a unique sound of “rough-edged intensity” (New Yorker) that's “achingly delicate one moment, incisive and punchy the next” (New York Times). The group's members are among the most creative and virtuosic performers in North American early music.

Ruckus' debut album, Fly the Coop, a collaboration with flutist Emi Ferguson, was Billboard's #2 Classical album upon its release. Performances of Fly the Coop have been described as “a fizzing, daring display of personality and imagination” (New York Times). The Boston Musical Intelligencer describes the group as taking continuo playing to “not simply a new level, but a revelatory new dimension of dynamism altogether… an eruption of pure, pulsing hoedown joy.”

Ruckus is the “house band” for Hudson Hall's baroque opera productions, directed by R.B. Schlather. The New York Times reviewed the 2023 production of Handel's Rodelinda, praising Ruckus' unconducted playing as “mercurial, almost improvisatory spirit that responded to the drama in real time.” The ensemble made its Ojai Festival debut in 2022, performing a wide range of music: from Bach, to the improvisational scores of Roscoe Mitchell and George Lewis, to a recital featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo, and an original opera by bassist Doug Balliett. Recent highlights include debuts at the Shriver Concert Hall Series in Baltimore, Boston's Celebrity Series, the Caramoor Festival, and NYC's Town Hall.

Upcoming projects include a co-commission of a large-scale work by pioneering artist and NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell as part of a Bach & Bird Festival alongside the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet, produced by The Metropolis Ensemble. In 2024 Ruckus and violinist Keir GoGwilt will premiere The Edinburgh Rollick, bringing to life tunes from the Gow Collections of Strathspey Reels, Books 1 and 2 (1784, 1788).


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