Calgary Opera launches 2018-19 season Clockwise from left: tenor Andrew Bidlack, baritone Gregory Dahl, and soprano Anne-Marie MacIntosh.

Calgary Opera launches 2018-19 season

Oliver Munar

“Bold” wasn’t the only buzz word that permeated the launch of Calgary Opera’s 2018-19 season.

Collaboration. Community. Innovation. All values that Keith Cerny, Calgary Opera CEO, insisted are core values for the company.

The lineup for Calgary Opera’s 2018-19 season definitely reflects these values.

Of its mainstage productions, the first is Roméo et Juliette by Charles Gounod on November 17, 21 & 23. Tenor Adam Luther and soprano Anne-Marie MacIntosh star as the titular star-crossed lovers, and will be directed by Jean Grand-Maître, Artistic Director of Alberta Ballet. This production will include what Cerny describes as an artistically unique element to complement the singing, orchestral playing and productions: an extended ballet for the opera,.

“While the ballet is often cut in nineteenth-century opera, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring Monsieur Grand-Maître’s renowned choreography to the production,” says Cerny. The extended ballet will include professional dancers and advanced students from Alberta Ballet. Of note, MacIntosh is a recent alumna of Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artist Development Program.

Calgary Opera dusts off Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti for a run in December. Featuring members of the company’s Emerging Artist Development Program, the production will also be looking for a boy soprano to fill the role of the titular Amahl, a crippled boy who is miraculously healed when he offers his cane to one of the Wise Men who are en route to Bethlehem to pay homage to the Christ child. Calgary Opera last staged Amahl thirty years ago, when a teenaged Daniel Okulitch shared the role with Yuri Hooker.

Continuing its tradition of premiere performances, Calgary Opera will stage the Canadian premiere of Everest on February 2, 6 & 8. The opera stitches together survivor stories of a disastrous climb of Mt. Everest in 1996. Cerny commissioned Everest while he served as General Director and CEO of Dallas Opera; it staged the world premiere in 2015, with a score by British composer Joby Talbot, and a libretto by Gene Scheer.

“This story seemed to have all those big emotions, everything from love and death and hubris and heroism, ” says Talbot. “People absolutely pushed to the full extremes of their mental and physical capacity. It’s an interesting psychological journey through the minds of various different people.”

Keith Cerny introduces Everest, part of Calgary Opera’s 201819 season. Photo by Oliver Munar.

“Opera does big very well,” says Scheer. “This particular story has both the large and the small, both the intimate the large forces, and I thought that was something really well suited for the operatic medium.”

Tenor Andrew Bidlack and bass-baritone Kevin Burdette, who premiered the roles of Rob Hall and Beck Weathers, respectively, in the world premiere of Everest, will reprise those same roles with Calgary Opera. The production will be directed by Leonard Foglia, who also directed the world premiere in Dallas.

Calgary Opera will stage Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto April 6, 10 & 12, starring baritone Gregory Dahl as the tragic court jester. Nikki Einfeld will play Rigoletto’s daughter Gilda, while Leonardo Capalbo will play the philandering Duke. Michael Cavanagh will direct.

In May, members of the Emerging Artist Development Program again take centre stage with Ghost Opera, a collaboration with The Old Trout Puppet Workshop and The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Inspired by an Ancient Greek ghost story, the opera is a lighthearted take on the supernatural and the afterlife. It features music by Canadian composer Veronika Krausas and a unique libretto by André Alexis.

Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artists sing an exceprt from Ghost Opera. Photo by Oliver Munar.

To complete its season, Calgary Opera offers a condensed version of Bizet’s Carmen, the centrepiece to its Opera in the Village festivities in August 2019 and a collaboration with the Calgary Stampede. In keeping with the vision of offering fresh and innovative interpretations, the production will feature live singers and a narrator to move the story along.

Mark your calendars:

  • _Roméo et Juliette_ by Charles Gounod: November 17, 21 & 23
  • _Amahl and the Night Visitors_ by Gian Carlo Menotti: December 2018
  • _Everest_ by Joby Talbot (Canadian premiere): February 2, 6 & 8
  • _Rigoletto_ by Giuseppe Verdi: April 6, 10 & 12
  • _Ghost Opera_ by Veronika Krausas: May 2019
  • _Carmen_ by Georges Bizet: August 2019

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