Opera Warhorses

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

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In Quest of Intriguing Operas, Casts and Productions – October 2016-March 2017

August 19th, 2016

The Quests and Anticipations operas listed below each are of more than routine interest because of the rarity of performances, the excellence of the casts, the new productions being created, or some combination of all these factors.


Faust (Gounod), Houston Grand Opera, October 28, 30(m), November 5, 8 and 11. 2016

The vintage Francesca Zambello production of Gounod’s “Faust” that I admire [see A “Faust” Surprise in Houston – January 23, 2007], will become the vehicle for as stellar cast, in which Michael Fabiano as Faust, Ana Maria Martinez ais Marguerite and Luca Pisaroni is Mephistopheles. Sol Jin is Valentin.

[Below: A scene from the Francesca Zambello production Gounod’s “Faust” at Houston Grand Opera; edited image of a production photograph.]


Antonino Fogliani conducts. Garnett Bruce is the revival director. The sets and costumes are Earl Staley’s.


Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky) The Dallas Opera, October 28, 30, November 2, 5, 2016

The Tel Aviv opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s most famous opera stars Ukraininan baritone Andrei Bondarenko as Onegin, Russian soprano Svetlana Aksenova as Tatiana, Pennsylvania tenor Stephen Costello as Lensky, Esthonian mezzo-soprano Kai Rüütel is Olga and Russian basso Mikhail Kazakov is Gremin.

[Below: Baritone Andrei Bondarenko, here as Robert in The Dallas Opera production of Tchaikovsky’s “Iolanta”; edited image, based on a Marty Sohl photograph, courtesy of The Dallas Opera.]

The conductor is Emmanuel Villaume. Regina Alexandrovskaya is revival director for Jean-Claude Auvray’s originial production, whose costumes are by Chiara Donato.


Der Freischütz (Weber), Virginia Opera (Harrison Opera House, Norfolk) January 27, 29(m) and 31  (George Mason University, Fairfax) February 4, 5, 2017 (Carpenter Theater, Richmond)  February 17, 19, 2017.

Director Stephen Lawless mounts a new production of Weber’s “Der Freischütz”, the classic German work that, despite a recent production in Toronto, seems to be virtually unknown in most parts of contemporary North America.

[Below: The Joseph Thierry/Charles Cambon Theatre Lyrique (Paris) sets for the Wolf’s Glen scene in Weber’s “Der Freischütz” from 1866, seven years after the world debut at the Theatre Lyrique of another opera on a supernatural theme, Gounod’s “Faust”; edited image, based on an historical drawing.]


Max is Corey Bix, Agatha is Kara Shay Thomson. Caspar is Joseph Barron, Annchen is Katherine Polit.

Andrew Paulson is Prince Ottokar, Kevin Langan is Cuno, Trevor Neal is Killian and Jake Gardner plays A Hermit and Samuel.

Adam Turner conducts. The sets are by Benoit Dugardyn, the costumes by Susan Wilmington.


L’Amore dei Tre Re [The Love of Three Kings] (Montemezzi), Sarasota Opera (Florida), March 11, 14, 16, 19(m) and 22, 2016

Since the HBO television series Game of Thrones has become a worldwide phenomenon, opera managements and directors should give consideration this infectiously melodious verismo work about marital infidelity occurring behind castle walls. Although composed a century before the HBO series, its plot points (including characters instantly dying after kissing poisoned lips) seem straight out of Westeros.

[Below: Bass-baritone Kevin Short (here as the Dutchman in Sarasota Opera’s production of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”) will be Archibaldo in its production of Montemezzi’s “L’Amore dei Tre Re”; edited image, based on a Rod Millington photograph for Opera Sarasota.]


It was one of the most popular early 20th century operas up until a half century ago, when it disappeared from most opera company repertories. However, the Sarasota Opera is creating a new production, the company’s second “Three Kings” production this century.

Elizabeth Trident is Fiora. Marco Nistico is Manfredo, Kevin Short is Archibaldo. Victor DeRenzi conducts, Stephanie Sundine directs. The scenic design is by David P. Gordon with Howard Tsvi Kaplan designing the costumes.


This list is supplementary to previous lists in this “Quests and Anticipations” series of selected operas being performed through August 2017:

Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Puccini’s “Tosca” and “Butterfly” in the American Southwest – October 2015 to December 2016.]

Janacek’s “The Makropoulos Case” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Operatic Masterpieces from the German and Czech Repertories – April- November, 2016.]

Sheng’s “Dream of the Red Chamber” at the San Francisco Opera and Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Houston Grand Opera [See In Quest of Repertory-Expanding Operas – April-December, 2016.]

Verdi’s “Aida” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Live Performances of Popular Operas – May-November, 2016.]

Giordano’s “Andrea Chénier” at the San Francisco Opera. [See In Quest of Less-Often Performed Core Repertory Operas – June-September, 2016.]

Donizetti’s “Don Pasquale” at the San Francisco Opera and “L’Elisir d’Amore” at the Houston Grand Opera and Johann Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” at the Santa Fe Opera [See In Quest of Operatic Comedy – July 2016 – August 2017.]


Tags: Quests and Anticipations