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Friday, May 27, 2016

Season Preview: The Angels Take Manhattan

New York City Opera completes comeback with 2016-17 slate.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
Ava Pine in a scene from the Fort Worth Opera production 
of  Angels in America.  

Before it went bankrupt, the New York City Opera would lead off each opera season with a new production. With the announcement of its five opera slate for 2016-17 on May 24, the City Opera has resumed its place at the top of next season’s proverbial batting order. This is a bold and exciting schedule with five brand-new opera productions.



This has been a rough decade for New York’s second biggest opera company, which declared bankruptcy in 2013, aborting its season and closing its doors after deciding to leave Lincoln Center three years before. The new City Opera had its maiden voyage this winter. On May 24 general manager Michael Capasso unveiled the plans for 2016-17.

City Opera will use a “split” schedule, with operas in the fall, winter and spring. The first offering is a bold double bill of one-act operas, pairing the New York stage premiere of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s first opera Aleko with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Like its better-known counterpart, Aleko is a story of betrayal, jealousy and bloody revenge, but without the greasepaint. It opens Sept. 8.

The Iraq War is the subject of Fallujah by Tobin Stokes, which arrives in New York in November. This 90-minute one-act chamber opera premiered at the Long Beach Opera in March of this year to good reviews. Fallujah will open Nov. 17.  The performance location is still to be announced.

In January, the opera company revisits its strong historic connection with direcor and choreographer Hal Prince. Mr. Prince will mount a new production of Leonard Bernstein’s opera Candide. The famous satire by French poet Voltaire springs to life once more, re-tellmg the story of a naïve bumpkin and his adventures through a dark and cynical world in pursuit of happiness.

The composer Ottoriono Respighi is known more for his tone poems depicting ancient Rome than for his operas. City Opera will attempt to change that perception with the New York premiere of La Campena Sommersa (”The Sunken Bell”) a fairy tale opera from 1927. This production bows at the Rose Theater on March 31, 2017.

In May the company will continue it's out reach to New York's Latino community with Los Elimentos by Spanish court composer Antonio Di Letres. This baroque opera written in am Italian style offers a musical analogy ofthe four classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. It will be produced at Harlem Stage in May of 2017.

The season ends with one of next years most exciting events: the New York premiere of an operatic adaptation of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. The opera, by Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös, reduces the running time of the seven hour play to a manageable 3 1/2 hours without sacrificing the original dramatic genius of Mr. Kushner's work. Angels in America opens June 10, 2017 at the Rose Theater.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.