Seattle Opera Announces 50th Anniversary Season

Seattle Opera today announced the company's 50th Anniversary Season. Performances of Wagner's Ring kick off the festivities this summer, followed by a subscription series of four operas. Starring singers beloved by the opera-goers of Seattle, the 2013/14 season offers subscribers a healthy variety of comedy and tragedy, reality and fantasy, in a mix of different musical styles and languages. Seattle Opera's anniversary celebration then climaxes in August 2014 with the International Wagner Competition and a special celebration honoring Speight Jenkins, the company's General Director since 1983.

"For my final season at Seattle Opera, I am delighted to present singers who have thrilled our audience time and again in recent years," says Jenkins. "Several have won Seattle Opera's Artist of the Year Award, and many are graduates of our own excellent Young Artists Program. The operas this season include very successful Seattle Opera productions of Rigoletto and The Tales of Hoffmann; The Consul, an important American opera which is new to our stage; and a spectacular cast for La fille du régiment. I am proud to offer great voices, extraordinary music, compelling drama, and captivating productions-everything that I have always loved about opera."

Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale says of the company's immediate plans, "Seattle Opera is offering a four-opera season for 2013/14, as is always our practice following a summer in which we present the Ring. Although the company has not been immune to the challenges of today's economic environment, thanks to diligent planning by Speight Jenkins and the generosity of our board and patrons we were able to program a season that fulfills the company's artistic mission and balances financial realities. It is a great tribute to fifty years of opera in Seattle and Speight's final season to be able to maintain our artistic output."

The 2013/14 season is a very special one for Seattle Opera. In addition to celebrating the bicentennials of Verdi and Wagner, Seattle Opera honors its own 50th anniversary this year. 2013 also marks ten years in McCaw Hall. The third General Director in the company's history will be named in 2013, to step into the leadership role when Speight Jenkins retires in 2014. In addition to exciting new online and education and community engagement programs throughout the season, Seattle Opera honors its golden anniversary with its third International Wagner Competition on August 7, 2014 and a gala concert on August 9, 2014. Tickets to the competition and concert are now available for 2013/14 season subscribers.

The subscription season opens with Donizetti's light-hearted romantic comedy La fille du régiment. When Marie, an orphan raised by a group of French soldiers, falls in love with a local villager, the two must overcome social expectations-and surprising revelations about her origin-in order to be together. Soprano Sarah Coburn stars as the rambunctious Marie on opening night, opposite tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Tonio. The two were most recently seen at Seattle Opera in the 2011 production of The Barber of Seville, and both are alumni of the company's Young Artists Program. Brownlee won Seattle Opera's Artist of the Year Award in 2008 for Arturo in I puritani. Alexander Hajek makes his Seattle Opera debut as Sergeant Sulpice, with Joyce Castle as the Marquise of Berkenfield and Peter Kazaras as the Duchess of Krackentorp. Performing the roles of Marie and Tonio in the production's second cast is another pair of exceptional former Young Artists: Terri Richter Franklin and Andrew Stenson. Stenson made his mainstage debut in spectacular fashion during the 2011/12 season as a last-minute substitution in the challenging role of Orphée in Orphée et Eurydice. Yves Abel returns to Seattle to conduct La fille du régiment in a production by Spanish director Emilio Sagi and designerJulio Galán. Originally designed for the Teatro Comunale di Bologna, the production sets the comedy in the 1940s.

The New Year sees the return of two favorite Seattle Opera productions, as well as a company premiere. In January 2014 comes Verdi's tragic tale of revenge, Rigoletto. Italian baritone Marco Vratogna returns to Seattle Opera as Rigoletto, the court jester who fails to keep his beautiful daughter away from the womanizing Duke of Mantua. The opening night cast also stars soprano Davinia Rodríguez as the ill-fated Gilda, with tenorFrancesco Demuro-who sings Rodolfo in next month's La bohème-as the Duke. Vratogna made his Seattle Opera debut singing Verdi when he took on the role of Ezio in the company's 2012 production of Attila, and Rodríguez tugged at heartstrings in a critically acclaimed Orphée et Eurydice later that same season. Making their company debuts in the alternate cast are Korean baritone Hyung Yun as Rigoletto and Rolando Sanz as the Duke. Jennifer Zetlan, who created the role of the Flier in Amelia and returns this year for La bohème and Der Ring des Nibelungen,sings Gilda. All performances of Rigoletto feature mezzo-soprano and current Young Artist Sarah Larsen as Maddalena and Andrea Silvestrelli as Sparafucile. This stylish production, set in Italy in the 1930s, features sets designed by Robert Dahlstrom and costumes by Marie Anne Chiment. Conductor Riccardo Frizza leads from the pit, and Linda Brovsky directs. Brovsky previously wowed critics and audiences alike with her direction of the company's premiere of Don Quichotte in 2011.

A powerful American work, new to the Seattle Opera stage, comes next. Gian Carlo Menotti's The Consul won the Pulitzer Prize following its premiere in 1950, and this tense thriller is sure to keep Seattle audiences on edge. Following her leading turns as both Turandot and Fidelio's Leonore this season, soprano Marcy Stonikas returns to the company as Magda Sorel, a wife and mother desperate to acquire a visa to flee a totalitarian nation. Baritone Michael Todd Simpson plays her husband, John Sorel, a political dissident on the run, and mezzo-soprano Lucille Beer-fresh off her company debut as Erda in the Ring-sings the role of his Mother. Both Stonikas and Simpson are former Seattle Opera Young Artists; they head a cast that features several talented program alumni, including mezzo-soprano Sarah Larsen as the Secretary and, alternating as Magda Sorel on February 23 and 28, Vira Slywotzky. Larsen made her mainstage debut as Suzuki in the 2012 production of Madama Butterflyand sings Tisbe in the company's current production of La Cenerentola. Directing this Seattle Opera premiere is Artistic Director of the Young Artists Program Peter Kazaras. Carlo Montanaro, who conducts next month's La Bohème, will return to conduct The Consul. Scenery and costumes for this production are from Arizona Opera, with sets designed by David Gordon and costumes by Carrie Kunz.

The 2013/14 season concludes with Seattle Opera's hit production of Jacques Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann. Director Chris Alexander won Seattle Opera's Artist of the Year Award when this production premiered in 2005. Tenor and audience favorite William Burden makes his role debut as the storytelling Hoffmann, who spins weird and wondrous yarns about romancing three beautiful woman, all portrayed on opening night by French soprano Norah Amsellem. Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, winner of Seattle Opera's 2010 Artist of the Year Award for creating the title role in Amelia, sings her critically acclaimed Muse/Nicklausse. The alternate cast, which performs on May 4 and 16, stars Russell Thomas as Hoffmann, Leah Partridge as the Women, and AlFRed Walker as the Villains. All performances feature Keith Jameson, in his Seattle Opera debut, as the Four Servants, Steven Cole as Spalanzani, and Tichina Vaughn as Antonia's Mother. Conductor Yves Abel returns to close the season, following his season-opening turn in La fille du régiment. Sets are designed by Robert Dahlstrom, with costumes designed by Marie Theresa Cramer.

To learn more about the 2013/14 season, including ticket information and full artist biographies (with audio excerpts of principal singers) Following are fact sheets, ticket information, and instructions for accessing Seattle Opera's Image Library.

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