Pop, hot and haute culture around Seattle

TWO OPERA SEASONS OF NOTE

I recently received two emails from two friends, Martin and Rod. The more recent one I’ll put at the top, because it’s hotter news. The last sentence tells why:

“Here’s the schedule for the upcoming Royal Opera HD transmissions.  There may be one more in July, I think: Guillaume Tell.  All at 11:00 am at the Guild 45th.  This schedule is not on-line anywhere that I can find.
1/18/15  L’Elisir D’Amore
2/22/15  Andrea Chenier
3/29/15  Der Fliegende Hollander
5/3/15  Mahagonny
6/28/15  La Boheme”

That makes this big news. The Royal Opera transmissions aren’t nearly as widely advertised as the Met’s, and yet (as far as I know, not having seen any) their production values are every bit the equal to the Met’s. So mark those dates on your calendar and sync them with your smartphone and every other reminding device you can think of. I’m sure they’re not to be missed. Handsome Half and I will definitely be attending at least one, maybe more if we can’t pick just one (which seems likely).

The next is no less exciting.

Seattle Opera Announces 2015/16 Season:

Nabucco, An American Dream, The Pearl Fishers, Mary Stuart, The Marriage of Figaro and The Flying Dutchman

The following is exerpted from their news release, and what makes this news even more exciting (besides the productions themselves) is that this is the first season under the leadership of new Executive Director Aiden Lang. The schedule includes one world premier and two operas never before produced.

“We are excited to offer a season that is so varied, both in terms of repertoire and presentation style,” Aiden Lang said. “In addition to a world premiere, we have in Nabucco and Mary Stuart two great, highly dramatic works that have never before been seen in Seattle. And it is especially pleasing to maintain our Wagnerian credentials with a compelling, new-to-Seattle production of The Flying Dutchman. I know our audiences are in for a thrilling ride.

“The 2015/16 season includes two company premieres: Nabucco (Verdi) and Mary Stuart (Donizetti); a world premiere: An American Dream (composed by Jack Perla with libretto by Jessica Murphy Moo) conceived from the company’s community storytelling initiative, the Belonging(s) Project; and new-to-the-company productions of The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart), The Pearl Fishers (Bizet) and The Flying Dutchman (Wagner). ”

“Running concurrently with Nabucco in August is the world premiere of An American Dream—an opera based on real stories from the Pacific Northwest. The heartbreak of World War II binds strangers together after a Japanese American family is forcibly removed from where they live on an island in Puget Sound, and the new residents slowly piece together the history of their home. Morgan Smith (Seattle Opera Young Artists Program graduate) returns to create the role of Jim, an American soldier married to Eva, a German Jew who has fled the Nazis and moved to the Pacific Northwest. Making their Seattle Opera debuts are D’Ana Lombard as Eva and, as the Japanese American family, Nina Yoshida Nelsen (Hiroko Kimura), Adam Lau (Makoto Kimura), and Hae Ji Chang (Setsuko Kimura). Conductor Judith Yan makes her Seattle Opera debut. Peter Kazaras, longtime Seattle Opera director, singer and former head of the company’s Young Artists Program, returns to direct following The Consul.

“An American Dream is inspired by stories from Seattle Opera’s Belonging(s) Project (seattleopera.org/belongings),­ a community storytelling initiative where participants were asked to consider: ‘If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you? Why is that object, that memory, or that connection to your past so important?’”

I am so on board for that show–and the season.

Despite the high production values, I’ve been hard-pressed to generate much excitement in the Opera’s recent seasons. Many of their operas had been around several times recently and they all seemed…stale; safe. While I appreciated Speight Jenkins’ need for caution, especially during a serious recession, I still wanted him to do something a little bolder. Some, such as their production of Flying Dutchman with Jane Eaglen, bordered on cringeworthy (although this seems like a good year for that opera).

Now, in the hands of a fresh, new director, we’ve got a lot fresher and bolder. The audience has been skewing more and more young (and dressier) in the recent past, and now we’re getting a season to match that.

Upon taking the baton of the Seattle Symphony, Maestro Ludovic Morlot blew the dust off Benaroya Hall; now Aiden Lang is ready for similar housekeeping at McCaw Hall.

I can hardly wait.

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