Cincinnati Opera's CO2, A New Era
Mary Ellyn Hutton
Posted: Jul 27, 2012 - 4:25:40 PM in
Cincinnati Opera Campus: Music Hall in red, Washington Park in green, Memorial Hall to left of Music Hall, SCPA lower right
In the beginning was the Zoo.
Fifty years later, Music Hall.
With Cincinnati Opera’s 100th anniversary approaching in 2020, the company will expand beyond Music Hall to a smaller venue in the neighboring School for Creative and Performing Arts, allowing for a concurrent expansion of its repertoire. It will become a true summer festival, with “festival” programming (i.e. different operas on successive nights), opera-linked events and more community partnerships and collaborations with other cultural organizations.
These are elements in a comprehensive plan announced by Opera artistic director Evans Mirageas in a special presentation Wednesday afternoon in Corbett Theater at the SCPA.
It’s called CO2.
Beginning with the 2013 Summer Festival (announced simultaneously, see below), Cincinnati Opera will enter “a third incarnation,” said Mirageas, “a new era, bringing an expansion of the festival season, more community partnerships, increased vibrancy to the Music Hall neighborhood and greater access to programming.”
Integral to CO2 is the “Opera Campus,” adjacent sites in Over-the-Rhine, which will host an expanded and restructured summer opera festival.
Grand opera, mostly large-scale 19th-century works such as “Aida,” “Carmen” and “La Boheme,” will continue to be presented in Springer Auditorium at Music Hall. Operas too small for Music Hall’s 3,400-seat space, such as chamber opera, baroque opera and many contemporary operas, will be performed in Corbett Theater. (Alternatively, during the time Music Hall is closed for renovation – a matter currently under contention as the city and the Music Hall Revitalization Committee work out future ownership of the hall and how the renovation will be funded – Cincinnati Opera will perform in Procter and Gamble Hall and Jarson-Kaplan Theater in the Aronoff Center, Mirageas said.)
Memorial Hall next door to Music Hall will be used for recitals, lectures by opera scholars and events linked to the Opera season such as films and lectures presented in collaborations with other organizations. Newly renovated Washington Park across the street from Music Hall will afford convenient parking in the new underground parking garage (space for 450 cars). It will also allow opera attendees to “picnic on the civic lawn before performances, stroll through tree-shaded paths and enjoy the interactive water fountain during intermissions and after performances,” Mirageas said. As part of CO2, Cincinnati Opera will open its Summer Festival with a free Opera in the Park concert in Washington Park, featuring season soloists. The first concert is set for June 9, 2013.
“The neighborhood will come alive with performances and programming associated with Cincinnati Opera’s Summer Festival. It was an idea that Ralph Corbett dreamed of when the company moved to Music Hall (in 1972). The campus idea was later heroically championed by Erich Kunzel.” (Corbett, his wife Patricia and the Corbett Foundation funded the 1960s renovation of Music Hall that made the Opera’s move from the Cincinnati Zoo possible. Kunzel, former Cincinnati Pops conductor who died in 2009, was a prime mover of the new SCPA.).
The availability of a smaller venue opens up “an important part of the operatic canon,” said Mirageas, “the foundational works of Monteverdi, the operas of Handel, the French comic operas of Lully and contemporary chamber operas. For these and many others, we need a more intimate space.” To kickoff the CO2 initiative, the 2013 season will include Philip Glass’ “Galileo Galilei,” in five performances at Corbett Theater in July. It will be a Cincinnati Opera premiere and the Opera’s first ever production by the popular American composer. In 2014, Cincinnati Opera will present its first ever baroque opera, “La Calisto” by Francesco Cavalli (1651) starring famed male soprano Michael Maniaci. Tickets for the smaller-venue productions will be moderately priced.
Having a second stage for the Summer Festival will facilitate festival formatting, i.e. back-to-back performances of different operas, thereby encouraging attendance by out-of-town visitors. “As long as you can see only a single production at Cincinnati Opera in a weekend, we will fall short of our potential to attract national and international attention,” said Mirageas. Rotating repertoire is difficult to impossible at Music Hall, because of the time and expense involved in mounting and re-mounting productions. Visitors to Cincinnati next season will be able to see “Galileo Galilei” and Verdi’s “Aida” on successive nights in July. The Opera’s goal is to provide festival presentation of “at least” two different operas each season.
There will be new repertoire at Music Hall as well as at the smaller venue during upcoming seasons. In observance of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, Cincinnati Opera will present the local premiere of Kevin Putz’ 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Silent Night” about the true-life Christmas truce in 1914, when combatants on the Western Front declared a ceasefire and celebrated the holiday together. And in 2015, the Summer Festival will open with the regional premiere of American composer Jake Heggie’s blockbuster “Moby Dick,” which premiered at Dallas Opera in 2010.
The Opera’s collaboration with SCPA extends beyond the use of Corbett Theater, said Mirageas. In a partnership he calls “unique in the opera world,” SCPA will join with Cincinnati Opera in providing learning opportunities for student singers, instrumentalists, dancers, designers and stage technicians who will gain real-world experience through apprenticeships with Cincinnati Opera professionals.
Gifts totaling $2.25 million have been received for Cincinnati Opera productions, initiatives and support as it approaches its century mark. They include $500,000 in sponsorship funding for the first five years of CO2 from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.
The 2013 Cincinnati Opera Summer Festival
(Season details to date)
Note: The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra performs for all Cincinnati Opera productions.
June 13, 15. Music Hall. Mozart, “Don Giovanni.”
Baritone Lucas Meachem, Don Giovanni. Cincinnati Opera production last seen in 2004.
June 27, 29. Music Hall. Richard Strauss, “Der Rosenkavalier.”
Soprano Twyla Robinson, Marschallin. Soprano Sarah Coburn, Sophie. Mezzo-soprano Roxandra Donose, Octavian.
July 11, 14, 17, 19, 21. Corbett Theater, SCPAA. Philip Glass, “Galileo Galilei.”
Cincinnati Opera premiere. CSO. Kelly Kuo, conductor.
July 18, 20, 26, 28. Music Hall. Verdi, “Aida.”
Soprano Latonia Moore, Aida. Cincinnati Opera production from 2007.
Renewals will go out to Cincinnati Opera subscribers in the fall. New subscriptions will be available in winter, 2012, single tickets in spring, 2013. Additional information at www.cincinnatiopera.org, or contact Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742.
Highlights of coming seasons
Mezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi, Carmen. Bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch, Escamillo.
Kevin Putz, “Silent Night.”
Cincinnati Opera premiere. Presented in observance of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Supported by a $300,000 gift from the Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation. Production to be accompanied by a multi-disciplinary program of lectures, film, exhibits and symposiums in collaboration with other arts and educational organizations.
Francesco Cavalli, “La Calisto.”
Cincinnati Opera premiere. Corbett Theater or Jarson-Kaplan Theater. Male soprano, Michael Maniaci.
Puccini, “Madame Butterfly.”
Music Hall or Aronoff Center. Soprano Maria Luigia Borsi, Butterfly.
Jake Heggie, “Moby Dick.”
Music Hall or Aronoff Center. Regional premiere. Production from Dallas Opera, 2010.
Music Hall or Aronoff Center. Co-production by Renaud and Andre Barbe with Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Utah Operas. Supported by a $340,000 gift from an anonymous donor.
Renewals will go out to Cincinnati Opera subscribers in the fall. New subscriptions will be available in the winter of 2012. Single tickets in spring, 2013. Additional information at www.cincinnatiopera.org
or contact Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742.