Michigan Opera Theatre Announces New Season
Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) announced today details of its 2019-20 season. The opera series features beloved classics "Don Giovanni" and "Pagliacci;" works long-absent from the MOT repertoire, "Sweeney Todd" and "Gianni Schicchi," and the highly-anticipated company premiere of "Champion," a contemporary American opera. The dance series features the return of American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, as well as the Detroit Opera House premiere of French contemporary ballet company Malandain Ballet Biarritz. An Oct. 12 gala concert, featuring acclaimed American Tenor Michael Fabiano and principal dancers from American Ballet Theatre, will serve to launch the season.
"We are excited to present a season of opera favorites and to share works with our patrons that have not been performed in decades," said Wayne S. Brown, MOT President and CEO. "We are also delighted to welcome back our long-term dance partners, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and to debut renowned French dance company Malandain Ballet Biarritz."
MOT Principal Conductor Stephen Lord said the season will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
"With dark comedies like 'Don Giovanni' and 'Sweeney Todd' and heart-wrenching stories like 'Pagliacci,' 'Champion' and 'Swan Lake,' our audiences are in for some thrills this year," he said. "These works, joined by the debuts of Michael Fabiano and Malandain Ballet Biarritz, as well as the return of some of our favorite dance companies, make for an irresistible powerhouse season."
Mozart's masterwork "Don Giovanni" serves as the opening production, Oct. 19-27. Based on the legendary character Don Juan, the opera tells the story of the ill-fated philanderer who faces the consequences of hurting the wrong people. The opera stars bass-baritone Dan Okulitch in the title role, as well as sopranos Ellie Dehn as Donna Anna and Nicole Cabell as Donna Elvira. Christopher Allen conducts.
It has been 35 years since MOT last presented Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd," which closes the company's 2019 fall season, Nov. 14-24. A satirical musical thriller about the deranged titular barber who descends into madness while seeking vengeance for his wife, "Sweeney Todd" features some of Sondheim's greatest music including "Johanna," "Not While I'm Around" and "The Worst Pies in London." The cast features Michigan native and Tony Award-winner Karen Ziemba as Mrs. Lovett and baritone Stephen Powell as Sweeney Todd. MOT Principal Conductor Stephen Lord conducts and Ron Daniel directs.
Puccini's "Gianni Schicchi," the composer's only comedic opera, returns to the Detroit Opera House in its first presentation since MOT's 1985 season. The production features the young artists of the MOT Studio resident artist program and will be presented at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts Feb. 28-29. The farcical opera, widely considered one of the most humorous works in the opera canon, follows one family's attempt to gain access to their late relative's will with the help of the mischievous but double-crossing Gianni Schicchi. It also features the famous aria "O mio babbino caro."
Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci" closes the season May 9-17 with the tragic tale of the tears of a clown. The audience favorite tells of a clown who becomes embroiled in a fatal love triangle. The first opera ever to be recorded in its entirety, "Pagliacci," with its famous "Vesti la giubba" aria, was the first opera to sell a million copies. The opera stars tenor Diego Torre as Canio, bass-baritone Mark Delavan as Tonio and soprano Marina Costa-Jackson as Nedda. It will be conducted by Lord and directed by Elaine Tyler-Hall.
"Champion" rounds out the opera series with a story about boxer Emile Griffith's struggle with regret, prejudice and the fluidity of sexual and societal morality. The "opera in jazz" is composed by jazz musician Terence Blanchard and features opera star and MOT favorite, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as Emelda Griffith and bass Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith. Kazem Abdullah will be on the podium with stage direction by James Robinson.
The 2019-20 dance series at the Detroit Opera House features the return of several highly-celebrated companies in the dance world. Following nearly full-capacity performances of 2018's "Romeo and Juliet" and 2016's "The Sleeping Beauty," American Ballet Theatre will return to the Detroit Opera House stage with four performances of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," in partnership with University Musical Society. The ballet follows the tragic love story of Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette and their attempt to break the spell that turns her into a swan each morning.
The Joffrey Ballet will present three Detroit premieres featuring dynamic young choreographers from Europe, including Liam Scarlet and Alexander Ekman. Malandain, in a sensual program in time for Valentine's Weekend, will present emotive works from classic composers including Vivaldi, Chopin and Ravel. The Dance Theatre of Harlem, celebrating its 50th anniversary, completes the MOT dance series with an inspiring ballet repertory program that celebrates African-American culture and their late founder, Arthur Mitchell.
The opera season will be complemented by special events including BalletMet's "The Nutcracker," "Too Hot to Handel," the jazz gospel version of Handel's "Messiah," and the Michigan Opera Theatre Children's Chorus production of Cary John Franklin's "The Very Last Green Thing."
Subscriptions may be purchased at up to 30 percent off single ticket prices. Subscription benefits also include free exchanges and exclusive access to pre-paid parking in the Opera House Parking Center. To purchase, call (313) 237-7464 or come in person to the Detroit Opera House (1526 Broadway, Detroit).