Pittsburgh Opera’s season lineup spans centuries
Pittsburgh Opera is in a class by itself in Western Pennsylvania, although there are other opera presentations here that are worth seeing.
Opera is an extravagant art form that combines singing, orchestral music, costumes and sets, and sometimes dancing, to tell stories that touch our hearts and give us things to think about.
Pittsburgh Opera’s season ranges across the centuries, from the baroque era to popular 18th- and 19th-century operas to two contemporary pieces.
“Don Giovanni” opens Pittsburgh Opera’s season (Oct. 12, 15, 18 and 20). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera seems more relevant than ever given the numerous contemporary scandals about sexual predators. Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte tell the story with a striking blend of elegance and force, wit and pathos. Music director Antony Walker conducts, with Craig Verm starring in the title role. Stage director Kristine McIntyre’s production will set the story in a film noir context.
MORE FALL ARTS
• Theater: ‘Mean Girls,’ ‘Blithe Spirit,’ ‘A Few Good Men’ among season’s stage offerings
• Classical: Musical offerings run the gamut
• Concerts: Western Pa.’s fall concert lineup hits every genre
• Dance: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Dance Council mark 50 years
Other offerings in Pittsburgh’s Opera’s season include:
“Florencia en el Amazonas” (Nov. 9, 12, 15 and 17) is an appealing contemporary work in Mexican composer Daniel Catan’s lyrical and romantic style. The story tells about the voyage of an opera singer, Florencia, who travels up the Amazon River with a colorful band of shipmates to find her long-lost love. It is inspired by the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist.
“Alcina” by George Frideric Handel (Jan. 25, 28, 31 and Feb. 2) is a magical opera about a sorceress who uses spells to get men to fall in love with her, until she tires of them and turns them into animals or inanimate objects. Her current victim is saved by his fiancée. Walker, whose earliest successes were in early opera, will conduct an orchestra based on the Pittsburgh period-instruments ensemble Chatham Baroque.
“The Last American Hammer” by Peter Hilliard (Feb. 22, 25, 28 and March 1) is about a right-wing conspiracy theorist in a small and failing Ohio town. He’s angry at federal overreach but is holed up in a museum that is the last place in town to receive federal financial support. The hammer of the title is the last produced at the town’s plant, and will be used by him in a proxy trial of the U.S. government.
“Carmen” by Georges Bizet (March 28, 31, April 3 and 5) is rightly one of the most popular of operas. It is a passionate tragedy filled with unforgettable melodies and unending energy. The cast includes Zanda Svede in the title role, Scott Quinn as her lover Don Jose, Michael Todd Simpson as her next lover, a toreador, and Danielle Pastin as the sweet girl from Don Jose’s hometown. Timothy Myers will conduct.
“Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini (April 25, 28, May 1 and 3) is an ancient tale of forbidden love composed in the early 19th-century style called bel canto. Norma is a druid princess who falls in love with a Roman soldier, betraying her people and violating her religious vows. The production will star Leah Crochetto in the demanding title role. She was outstanding in the company’s 2017 production of “Tosca.”
Other operas in Pittsburgh this season include Handel’s “Rinaldo” by Carnegie Mellon’s School of Music (Oct. 23-26), an unstaged concert performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio” by the Pittsburgh Symphony (Jan. 24 and 26), and Resonance Works’ productions of Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” (Dec. 20 and 22) and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” (May 15 and 17).
Mark Kanny is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.