Lyric Opera of Kansas City to Open Season with DON GIOVANNI, Begin. 9/26
Lyric Opera of Kansas City opens its 58th season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's haunting Don Giovanni September 26 and 30 and October 2 and 4 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The production will be sung in Italian with English titles.
General Director and CEO Deborah Sandler stated, "This new production of Don Giovanni includes the dark elements of film noir complete with fedoras and trench coats. The story of Don is morally ambiguous; who is telling the truth, who is the bad guy? Film noir is the perfect world to explore this dark tale. "
Singing the title role, Daniel Okulitch makes his Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut. Also making her Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut, Rachelle Durkin will portray Donna Anna. Returning to Lyric Opera of Kansas City after her highly- acclaimed performances as Liù in Turandot and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Elizabeth Caballero will perform the role of Donna Elvira. The production will be directed by Kristine McIntyre. Gary Thor Wedow will conduct.
Reimagined with a film noir aesthetic, complete with snap-brim fedoras, trench coats and dimly lit speakeasies, Don Giovanni sets the stage with legendary libertine Don Giovanni and his comic sidekick, Leporello. Seville has been replaced by the mean streets of the big city as dark shadows hide mistaken identities while intrigue and revenge abound. Like a great noir film, the opera follows our anti-hero Giovanni through a series of betrayals and failed seductions right up to the moment when his past finally catches up with him and he meets his inevitable, violent end. In noir, there are no happy endings.
Shortly after Don Giovanni's triumphant premiere in Prague in 1787, the opera received its highly anticipated Viennese premiere. For these performances, Mozart composed two new arias and a duet, partially to please the new prima donnas and partly to substitute the less demanding 'Dalla sua pace' for the virtuosic 'Il mio tesoro' for the tenor. As this greatly increased the length of the opera, the 'happy ending' epilogue was cut; it was not printed in the Viennese libretto and this practice continued through the 19th century (Mahler did not conduct the epilogue in his landmark performances).
"Mozart was a man of the theater and was keenly aware of what worked and what pleased," Wedow explains. "The Vienna performances became like a Broadway show tryout: shaping, improving and experimenting. Mozart left us with no definitive version, and many contemporary productions try to combine both versions which can become a little like an overstuffed Christmas dinner: delicious, but numbing, leaving us staggering from the groaning table."
Sandler continued, "For the Lyric Opera noir production, we've decided to do a hybrid version, leaning heavily on the original Prague version; dispensing with the added Vienna material and streamlining in a few other places, giving our wonderful tenor the more virtuosic original aria, Il Mio Tesoro, and ending the opera as they did in Vienna with the death of the anti-hero.Mozart saw opera as a flexible, mutable and living experience. He was keenly attuned to the cast, the dramatic situation and his audience, I feel he would enjoy our sleek Kansas City noir look at his seductive scoundrel."
About the Artists
Daniel Okulitch most recently garnered worldwide attention in his moving performance as Ennis in the world premiere of Brokeback Mountain for Teatro Real Madrid in 2014. He has established himself as a leading singer of Mozart's operas, most notably Don Giovanni. "He sings Giovanni with an irresistible bass-baritone that helps explain why women would be drawn to an oleaginous sociopath..." (New York Magazine). He first garnered national attention in the original cast of Baz Luhrmann's Tony award-winning Broadway production of La Bohème. He has performed worldwide, including La Scala, Théâtre du Châtelet, Washington National Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera, and Los Angeles Opera.
Soprano Rachelle Durkin, in the role of Donna Anna, will be making her Lyric Opera debut. "Durkin sings with poised, well-sculpted clarity and her voice flashes with admirable precision in rapid passages" (Sydney Morning Herald). Hailing from Australia, Ms. Durkin has performed worldwide, including Opera Australia, the Metropolitan Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Hong Kong and Chicago Opera Theatre.
Soprano Elizabeth Caballero as Donna Elvira makes her triumphant return to Lyric Opera of Kansas City after her highly acclaimed performances as Liù in Turandot and Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly. She regularly performs on leading opera and concert stages internationally including the Metropolitan Opera and Seattle Opera. The New York Times hailed Ms. Caballero as "the evening's most show-stopping performance offering a thrilling balance of pearly tone, exacting technique and brazen physicality."
Also making his Lyric Opera of Kansas City debut, bass Joshua Bloom will portray Leporello. "Joshua Bloom, the extravagantly gifted Australian bass deployed his resonant tone with appealing flexibility." (San Francisco Chronicle). He has sung principal roles with Opera Australia, San Francisco Opera, LA Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Wiener Staatsoper, Metropolitan Opera, Badisches Staatstheater, Opera Northern Ireland and Garsington Opera, among others.
Returning to Lyric Opera of Kansas City after his highly acclaimed performance as Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte in 2011, tenor Matthew Plenk will perform Don Ottavio. The San Francisco Chronicle mentioned his, "bright, piercing tone and flawless diction needed to make this music work, and he shaped the songs with dramatic sureness."
Director Kristine McIntyre has directed more than 60 operas across the U.S. with a focus on new and contemporary works. Productions include Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking (Des Moines Metro Opera, Madison Opera), Jonathan Dove's Flight (Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera), and the world premier of The Canticle of the Black Madonna (Newmark Theater, Portland). McIntyre began her career at the San Francisco Opera and then spent eight years on the directing staff of the Metropolitan Opera where she directed revivals of La Traviata, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Luisa Miller, and directed La Traviata on tour for the company in Japan. McIntyre has trained opera singers in the studio programs at the Santa Fe Opera, San Francisco Opera, Portland Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera.
Conductor Gary Thor Wedow has established an enviable reputation for dramatically exciting and historically informed performances with opera companies, orchestras and festivals throughout North America. Maestro Wedow last appeared with Lyric Opera of Kansas City conducting the critically acclaimed The Magic Flute.
Lyric Opera of Kansas City Director of Design and Technical Production R. Keith Brumley will design this new production.
This season, to celebrate this all-new production of Don Giovanni, Lyric Opera will be hosting Film Fatale: A Film Noir Experience on September 10th, 2015 at the Tivoli. Guests are invited to preview the story of Don Giovanni through three film noir classics and get exclusive artist access during artist talk backs with Don Giovanni Director Kristine McIntyre and Scenic Designer R. Keith Brumley.
Don Giovanni: Daniel Okulitch
Donna Anna: Rachelle Durkin
Donna Elvira: Elizabeth Caballero
Leporello: Joshua Bloom
Don Ottavio: Matthew Plenk
Director: Kristine McIntyre
Conductor: Gary Thor Wedow
Set Designer: R. Keith Brumley
Costume Designer: Mary Traylor
Lighting Designer: Marcus Dillard
Wig and Make-up Designer: Alison Hanks
Chorus Master: Mark Ferrell
Stage Manager: Erin Thompson- Janszen
Ticket availability varies by performance. To purchase tickets, call Ticketing & Patron Services (816) 471-7344 or 1-800-OPERAKC (673-7252). Patrons can select their own seat and print their tickets at home by visiting www.kcopera.org. Limited student rush tickets are available for $15, cash only, one hour before the performances, with a valid student ID. This production is appropriate for children 13+.