Opera Warhorses

An appreciation and analysis of the 'Standard Repertory' of opera

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In Quest of Opera Company Performances of American Works – July 2014 to February 2015

April 18th, 2014

This feature highlights selected performances of operas at the 2014 Glimmerglass Festival, and in San Francisco and Los Angeles that I am scheduled to review.

This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed from July, 2014 through February, 2015:

These are Bizet’s “Carmen” in Santa Fe [See Popular Opera Offerings in Southwestern Vacation Destinations – March-September, 2014], Beethoven’s “Fidelio” in Santa Fe and Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” in Glimmerglass, New York [See Selected French and German Opera Offerings Coast to Coast April-August, 2014]; 

Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” in Santa Fe; Bellini’s “Norma” and Rossini’s “La Cenerentola” in San Francisco [See “Bel Canto” Italian Works in Toronto and the American Southwest – April-October, 2014].  


Carousel (Rodgers and Hammerstein), Glimmerglass (NY) Festival, July 12, 18, 26(m), 27(m), August 1, 4(m), 10 (m), 14, 16(m), 19(M) and 22, 2014.

Chicago’s award winning legitimate stage director Charles Newell brings to Glimmerglass his conception of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel”.

[Below: Billy Bigelow (Ryan McKinny, front right, kneeling) seeks forgiveness and redemption from Julie Jordan Bigelow. Andrea Carroll, front, left, seated); edited image, based on a Karli Cadel photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Fesitval.]


Ryan McKinny, who opened the previous Glimmerglass Festival as Wagner’s Dutchman, will sing the role of Billy Bigelow. [See Rising Stars: An Interview with Ryan McKinny.]

Sharon Apostolou is Carrie Pepperidge, Deborah Nansteel is Nettie Fowler, with Joseph Shadday as Enoch Snow, and Ben Edquist as Jigger Craigin.

Doug Peck conducts. John Culbert is set designer, with costumes by Jessica Jahn.

[For the performance review, see: Review: Ryan McKinny Stars in Affectionately Mounted “Carousel” – Glimmerglass Festival, July 18, 2014]


An American Tragedy (Picker) Glimmerglass (NY) Festival, July 20(m), 25, 31, August 5(m), 7, 9(m), 11(m), 16 and 24(m), 2014.

Composer Tobias Picker and librettist Gene Scheer have revised their operatic version of Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy”.

George Manahan conducts and Peter Kazaras directs the opera, whose sets are by Alexander Dodge, costumes by Anya Klepikov and choreography by Eric Sean Fogel.

{Below: Clyde Griffiths (Christian Bowers, right) plans to drown Roberta Alden (Vanessa Iniguin, left) who is pregnant with his child; edited image, based on a photograph, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival.]


The opera’s cast is almost exclusively comprised of 2014 Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists. Daniel Curran is Gilbert Griffiths, Christian Bowers is Clyde Griffiths, with Vanessa Isignan as Roberta Aiden.

Bella Griffiths is Meredith Lustig, Cynthia Cook is Sandra Finchley and John Kapusta is Reverend McMillan. Thomas Richards is Orville Mason. Aleksey Bordanov is Samuel

[For my performance review, see: Review: Tobias Picker’s “American Tragedy”, Extensively Revised, Debuts at Glimmerglass Festival – July 20, 2014.]

Susannah (Floyd), San Francisco Opera, September 6, 9, 12, 16 and 21(m), 2014.

San Francisco Opera’s general director David Gockley, has, throughout his career, been an advocate for “Susannah”, the seminal work of American composer Carlisle Floyd.

It is no surprise that he has dedicated San Francisco Opera resources to a new production of Floyd’s work, created by stage director/production designer Michael Cavanagh, whose production of Adams’ “Nixon in China” (another opera for which Gockley is a committed advocate) was enlisted for the opera’s San Francisco Opera debut.

[Below: The Raymond Olin Blitch, right) propositions Susannah (Patricia Racette, leftt; edited image, based on a Cory Weaver photograph, courtesy of the San Francisco Opera.]


Gockley spared no effort in casting this American masterpiece, second only to George Gershwin’s and DuBose Heywood’s “Porgy and Bess” in total performances of American operas.

Dramatic soprano Patricia Racette sings the role of Susannah Polk, with heldentenor Brandon Jovanovich as Sam Polk and basso cantante Raymond Aceto as the conflicted preacher Olin Blitch.

James Kryshak is Little Bat McLean, with Catherine Cook, A. J. Glueckert, Suzanne Hendrix, Erin Johnson, Jacqueline Piccolino. Joel Sorensen and Dale Travis rounding out the cast. Karen Kamensek conducts.

These are not “Susannah’s” first performances on the War Memorial Opera Stage (it having been mounted for Lee Venora and Norman Treigle for San Francisco Opera’s budget-priced Spring Opera Theater a half century earlier.

Yet “Susannah”, which has been performed by the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Houston Grand Opera among the top tier companies, has never before been performed as part of the regular San Francisco Opera season.

[See: Rising Stars: An Interview with Brandon Jovanovich and also  Rising Stars: An Interview with Raymond Aceto, Part 1 and Rising Stars: An Interview with Raymond Aceto – Part 2.]

[For my performance reviews, see: Review: Racette, Aceto, Jovanovich in Brilliant New Production of “Susannah” – San Francisco Opera, September 6, 2014 and A Second Look: Patricia Racette Medals in “Susannah” at the San Francisco Opera – September 21, 2014.]


The Ghosts of Versailles (Corigliani; Los Angeles Opera, February 7, 15(m), 18, 21, 26 and March 1, 2015.

A new production, hailed as the opera’s first full-scale production of the 21st century, introduces Corigliani’s work to Los Angeles audiences. James Conlon conducts this opera that brings us up to date on the afterlife of the beheaded French queen Marie Antoinette (Patricia Racette), her equally unlucky husband, King Louis XVI (Kristinn Sigmundsson).

The former queen encounters the playwright Beaumarchais (Christopher Maltman), and a group of his famous characters, known to both ancien regime theater audiences and opera goers since the times of Mozart and Rossini – Figaro (Lucas Meachem), Susanna (Guanqun Yu), the Count (Richard Croft) and Countess (Lucy Schaufer) Almaviva and Cherubino (Renée Rapier).

[Below: Beaumarchais (Christopher Maltman, center) in the center of a scene from “Ghosts of Versailles; edited image of a Craig Mathews photograph, courtesy of the Los Angeles Opera.]


Others in the cast are Robert Brubaker, Philip Cokorinos, Victoria Livengood, Patti LuPone, Scott Scully and Stacey Tappan.

Theater director Darko Tresnjak creates the new production.

[For my performance review, see: Review: Los Angeles Opera Launches Ambitious New Production of “Ghosts of Versailles” – February 7, 2015.]

Tags: Quests and Anticipations