2017-18 marks a landmark season for Opera Philadelphia, highlighted by the launch of its new, game-changing, annual season-opening festival. A twelve-day immersion featuring seven operatic happenings, three world premieres, and one superstar Festival Artist, at six venues across the city, the festival’s inaugural edition – O17 (Sep 14–25) – represents a radical new way to experience opera. Already welcomed as “a bold move aimed at making Philadelphia a compelling stop on the opera-lover circuit” (Philadelphia Inquirer) that promises to “blanket the city with opera” (Washington Post), this makes for “a significant expansion of Opera Philadelphia’s seasonal offerings” (Opera News). Furthermore, boasting partnerships with such leading international presenters as Harlem’s Apollo Theater and London’s Hackney Empire, as well as with such key local cultural institutions as the Barnes Foundation and Philadelphia Museum of Art, the festival makes a fittingly forward-thinking start to a season in which Opera Philadelphia continues to prove itself “the very model of a modern opera company” (Washington Post).
General Director & President David B. Devan explains: “The 2017-18 season truly pushes the limits of how and where and why we experience this wonderful art form. Our city is our stage, and our stage is our city, as we present three magnificent productions in the historic Academy of Music and engage our community in a festival that will bring new audiences to opera and to Philadelphia. We are delighted to collaborate with so many of our city’s treasured institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation, as well as internationally significant co-producers like The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire in London. Together, we are creating a breadth of new operatic repertoire which is gloriously interdisciplinary and tremendously inspired in its use of sound, space, and storytelling.”
Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris adds: “Opera Philadelphia has been working tirelessly to revitalize opera for the 21st century, commissioning world premieres and energizing the classical canon by providing established and emerging artists with opportunities to create their most imaginative work. This season, first with O17 and continuing through the spring, our mission has truly reached a new level. I invite opera lovers, and those who perhaps find opera a bit intimidating, to join us.”
Opera Philadelphia is justly recognized for commissioning new works that are “ambitious, accomplished and dramatically direct” (New York Times), and O17 is highlighted by three world premieres: Elizabeth Cree, a chamber opera by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, in collaboration with London’s Hackney Empire; We Shall Not Be Moved, an interdisciplinary co-commission and co-production with The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire, from the creative team of Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist and spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and peerless director-choreographer-dramaturge Bill T. Jones; and The Wake World, a musical journey through the art collections of Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation from composer-in-residence David Hertzberg. Complementing these new works are the exclusive East Coast presentation of Barrie Kosky’s renowned take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute; and the Philadelphia premiere of War Stories, a site-specific and all-too-topical pairing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Monteverdi’s prescient tale of Christian and Muslim warriors, with I Have No Stories To Tell You, a modern response to it by composer-in-residence program alumnus Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch. To complete the compelling O17 lineup, inaugural Festival Artist, superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, offers a solo recital and a masterclass for emerging artists, and there will be a free HD video broadcast in Opera Philadelphia’s celebrated Opera on the Mall series.
Next spring, Opera Philadelphia rounds out this season of firsts with back-to-back new productions by a pair of award-winning directors. Scotland’s Paul Curran offers an original treatment of Bizet’s beloved Carmen (April 27–May 6), and Will Kerley helms the Philadelphia premiere of George Benjamin’s phenomenal critical sensation Written on Skin (Feb 9–18).