It’s a big anniversary so Seattle Opera is planning on having a big 60th Anniversary year for 2023/2024. Highlights to include the return of part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle and two new operas including X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X. Plus, a revisit to one of the most popular of all operas, The Barber of Seville….and, not just because of the Bugs Bunny version.
All the news from Seattle Opera:
General Director Christina Scheppelmann announced today the lineup of artists and repertoire for Seattle Opera’s 2023/24 season, which celebrates the company’s 60th anniversary. To mark the occasion, Seattle Opera offers a range of titles spanning nearly all of opera’s history, from the eighteenth century to the 1980s. From intimate character portrayals to fantasy epics, the season features works never before seen in Seattle (Alcina, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X) alongside enduring favorites (Das Rheingold, The Barber of Seville). A roster of some of opera’s most celebrated creators, including more than 20 company debuts, will bring these stories to life.
In homage to Seattle Opera’s long Wagnertradition, the season opens with director Brian Staufenbiel’s eye-catching new production of Das Rheingold (August 12–20, 2023, at McCaw Hall). Headlining the cast are Seattle favorite Greer Grimsley, “a formidable Wotan” (Washington Post) reprising his role from 2013’s Ring cycle, and Denyce Graves, “one of the great mezzos of the 20th century” (OperaWire)in her Seattle Opera debut as Erda.
Seattle Symphony Conductor Emeritus Ludovic Morlot will conduct the mostly American cast, which includes Michael Mayes as Alberich, Melody Wilson as Fricka, Frederick Ballentine as Loge, Kenneth Kellogg as Fafner, and Peixin Chen in his company debut as Fasolt.
The season continues with George Frideric Handel’s magical Alcina (October 14–28, 2023, at McCaw Hall), which appears for the first time on the Seattle Opera stage. Based on Ludovico Ariosto’s epic poem Orlando furioso, Alcina tells the tale of a powerful sorceress who lures men to her enchanted island. Internationally renowned stage director Tim Albery makes his Seattle Opera debut leading a cast that includes returning favorites Vanessa Goikoetxea as Alcina, Randall Scotting as Ruggiero, Sharleen Joynt as Morgana, and Ginger Costa-Jackson as Bradamante.
Taking the podium is Christine Brandes, the distinguished soprano known for her vibrant interpretations of Baroque and Classical roles. “For me, Alcina is one of Handel’s very best operas,” said Brandes, who debuted at Seattle Opera as Cleopatra in Julius Caesar in Egypt (’07). “The characters are so complex and the music is utterly vivid and compelling; it’s impossible for audiences not to identify with this story. Note for note, scene for scene, it’s a truly magical opera.”
For the holiday season, Seattle Opera presents a new Holiday Chorus Concert (December 8–10, 2023, at Tagney Jones Hall) featuring the excellent Seattle Opera Chorus. This program of seasonal tunes and hidden gems from the opera repertoire will showcase the chorus’s broad stylistic range.
Continuing its commitment to new American opera, Seattle Opera next presents X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (February 24–March 9, 2024, at McCaw Hall). Presented in co-production with Detroit Opera, Opera Omaha, the Metropolitan Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, X is a long-overdue revival of composer Anthony Davis’s “pathbreaking” work (The New York Times) that has transfixed operagoers across the country. Director Robert O’Hara’s production tells the story of the orator and civil rights icon through an Afrofuturist lens that envisions a bright future for oppressed peoples.
For composer Anthony Davis, reviving his work in the 2020s has given it striking new relevance. “In 1984, [librettist] Thulani Davis wrote the line, ‘You had your foot on me, always pressing,’ for Malcolm’s concluding Act I aria,” said Davis. “This phrase speaks to the uncanny relevance of X in our post-George Floyd reckoning. For African Americans, Malcolm X was and is today a heroic figure who set the stage for the Black Lives Matter movement, a prophet whose vision inspired generations in the political struggle. The opera tells his story in music that captures the time and the place and the momentum of a movement.”
Kenneth Kellogg will step into the role of Malcolm X for the first time. Joining Kellogg are Joshua Stewart as Street/Elijah Muhammad and Leah Hawkins in her Seattle Opera debut as Louise Little/Betty Shabazz. Sought-after conductor Kazem Abdullah, praised for his “nimbleness” and “expert guidance” (Los Angeles Times), returns to Seattle after his debut in 2021’s filmed Tosca.
Rounding out the season is one of opera’s most beloved and enduring comedies, Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (May 4–18, 2024, at McCaw Hall). Director Lindy Hume brings her “bright hilarious production” (The Stranger) back to Seattle alongside “rising star” (BBC Music Magazine) Valentina Peleggi at the helm in her Seattle Opera debut.
Finally, Seattle Opera punctuates its landmark season with a celebratory 60th Anniversary Concert & Gala (May 11, 2024, at McCaw Hall). Featuring performances by the Seattle Opera Chorus, Seattle Symphony, and an exciting cast of international soloists, this one-of-a-kind event will celebrate the legacy of opera in Seattle and look forward to many decades to come. Tickets go on sale later in 2023.