2020 season banner









Artwork by Alexander Charner

Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2020 Season focuses on women’s voices, celebrating 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment

Season concludes with a Festival Weekend, July 30August 1, giving audiences the opportunity to see three operas in three days

The Chautauqua Opera Company has announced its 2020 mainstage season, which will include Puccini’s Tosca, Kamala Sankaram and Susan Yankowitz’s chamber opera Thumbprint, and The Mother of Us All, by Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein. Stage directors Sarah Ina Meyers and Omer Ben Seadia will make their Chautauqua Opera debuts directing Tosca and Thumbprint, respectively, and Keturah Stickann will return to direct The Mother of Us All. Liliana Duque Piñeiro will join the company to design the sets for all three productions. Four Guest Artists will make their Chautauqua Opera debuts in 2020: Elaine Alvarez, Wendy Bryn Harmer, Alan Held and Chauncey Packer.

Chautauqua Opera’s 92nd season will join the national celebration of the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment and the fight for suffrage in America. “I’m thrilled that our 2020 season will feature such a unique trio of operas, each of which revolves around a powerful female figure who is fighting to forge her own path and have her voice heard,“ said General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood. “We look forward to celebrating the rich history of suffrage that flourished in Western New York, as well as the women throughout history and across our current world who fought and continue to fight for women’s rights.”

After the success of the company’s inaugural 2019 Festival Weekend, celebrating Beaumarchais’ "Figaro Trilogy" and the company’s 90th anniversary, the 2020 mainstage season will conclude with a second Festival Weekend (July 30 to Aug. 1, 2020), during which audiences will be able to see all three mainstage productions on consecutive days.

A limited number of all-inclusive packages for Festival Weekend 2020 are currently available for purchase through Road Scholar, and additional package options will be available through Chautauqua Institution's Athenaeum Hotel Fall 2019. Single tickets for Chautauqua Opera’s mainstage season will be available Spring 2020.


tosca staveTOSCA
Music by Giacomo Puccini; Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
Performance Dates: July 10, 13 & 30 in Norton Hall

Puccini’s glorious score brings to life one woman’s struggle for love, art, and freedom in a male-dominated world at the turn of the 19th century. Religion, politics and passion collide in this stirring work.

Chautauqua Opera’s new production will feature soprano Elaine Alvarez as Floria Tosca, tenor Chauncey Packer as her lover Cavaradossi, and bass-baritone Alan Held as the villainous Scarpia, all making their Chautauqua Opera debuts this season. Sarah Ina Meyers directs and Steven Osgood conducts.

“Tosca’s anger, her resistance, and her fight are what make her one of the most powerful women in all of opera," Meyers said. "Throughout the opera, Tosca fights to keep control of her own body, fights for her autonomy. Even her suicide should be seen as an active choice. She is the one to decide how she dies — not Scarpia, not Spoletta, not even God. Positioned in the context of this summer’s season at Chautauqua, alongside the inspiring female protagonists Susan B. Anthony and Mukhtar Mai, Tosca emerges not as merely a tragic victim, but instead as a fellow warrior of a battle that, unfortunately, rages on.”


thumbprint printTHUMBPRINT
Music by Kamala Sankaram; Libretto by Susan Yankowitz
Performance dates: July 3, 15 & 31 in Norton Hall

Thumbprint is a chamber opera inspired by the experiences of Mukhtar Mai, a contemporary real-life warrior for women’s rights and education in Pakistan. Sankaram’s dynamic score blends Hindustani and European opera influences to tell this astonishing story of courage in the face of oppression.

Thumbprint premiered in 2014 and was commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and the HERE Arts Center for the PROTOTYPE Festival. Chautauqua Opera’s new production will be directed by Omer Ben Seadia and conducted by Kristin Roach. Thumbprint will feature members of Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artist program.

"Thumbprint takes a powerful look at ideas of justice, courage, and family, with music that is visceral and commanding,” Seadia said. “Although the real-life events that this work is based on may feel far away from many of our own lives, I think its essence resonates close to home with anyone who hopes to find strength in the face of darkness." .


mother flagTHE MOTHER of US ALL
Music by Virgil Thomson; Libretto by Gertrude Stein
Performance date: August 1 in Chautauqua’s Amphitheater

For one performance only, Chautauqua’s Amphitheater will once again ring with the voice of Susan B. Anthony in Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s joyfully surrealist homage to one of the foremothers of our country and the suffrage movement in America.

This performance will bookend Chautauqua Institution’s Week Five programming, themed “The Women’s Vote Centennial and Beyond,” and described as follows: “As we join the nation in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, we also consider those who were left out of the mainstream suffrage movement, examine the slow progress toward gender equality in the United States, and look to the movement’s relevance to the ongoing battle over voting rights.”

Soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer will make her Chautauqua Opera debut as Susan B. Anthony, with tenor Chauncey Packer as Jo the Loiterer and bass-baritone Alan Held as Daniel Webster. The large cast of characters will be rounded out by the Chautauqua Opera Young Artists, and joined by four singers from the Chautauqua Institution School of Music’s Voice Department. Following her stirring productions of La Traviata (2016) and L’Orfeo (2017) for Chautauqua Opera, Keturah Stickann returns to direct, and Steven Osgood conducts.

“The important thing to understand (and relish) about The Mother of Us All is that it isn’t a biographical narrative, rather it is a musical exploration of where Susan B. Anthony sits in the grand timeline of universal suffrage,” Stickann said. “By mixing up eras, and allowing her to interact with characters who came both before and after she was a political force for change, we can see how her actions relate to the greater good, and we can begin to place ourselves on that same timeline of ideas.”

"As Cokie Roberts put it, 'telling history without talking about one half of the human race seems to me to be an inaccurate way of telling the story,'" said Liliana Duque Piñeiro, who will be the scenic designer for all three mainstage productions. "I am thrilled to be a part of the 2020 season at Chautauqua and to visually help tell stories of one half of the human race.”

July 30-August 1, 2020

Building on the success of the company’s inaugural Festival Weekend during the 2019 season, which celebrated the company’s 90th anniversary with a trilogy of operas based on Beaumarchais’ three "Figaro Plays", the 2020 mainstage season will conclude with performances of all three productions on consecutive days July 30 to Aug. 1, 2020.

A limited number of all-inclusive packages for the Festival Weekend are currently available for purchase through Road Scholar. These six-day packages (July 28 to Aug. 2, 2020) include lodging at the Athenaeum Hotel, premium seating at the three opera performances, Chautauqua Institution gate passes, parking, daily meals at Heirloom Restaurant, and exclusive programming. Additional package options will be available from the Chautauqua Institution's Athenaeum Hotel beginning Fall 2019.

In addition to experiencing this unique trio of operas, visitors to Chautauqua will have access to the entire breadth of Chautauqua Institution’s programming. The gate pass serves as a passport to the Chautauqua Experience, giving visitors access to most events on the grounds, including all lectures, religious services, Amphitheater entertainment and performances by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, as well as water sports and outdoor leisure activities.

Founded in 1929, the Chautauqua Opera Company is North America's oldest continuously operating summer opera company and fourth-oldest opera company after the Metropolitan Opera, Cincinnati Opera and San Francisco Opera. The Chautauqua Opera Company offers more than 30 operatic events each season, including fully staged productions in Chautauqua Institution's 4,500-seat Amphitheater and in the historic 1,365-seat Norton Hall, concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, weekly recitals, Opera Scenes programs, and opera for young audiences. Chautauqua Opera productions feature internationally recognized guest artists as well as the Young Artists who make up the core of the company each season.

As a part of the historic Chautauqua Institution, visitors to Chautauqua Opera not only witness high-quality operatic performances, they also have access to the huge range of programming that Chautauqua Institution has to offer. It is this unique cross-pollination of disciplines that makes Chautauqua Institution and Chautauqua Opera a destination for travelers from across the nation.

Chautauqua Institution’s mission is to expand the lives of their audience within and beyond the Institution’s gates through the power of the performing and visual arts. They seek to serve the purposes of the Institution by inspiring, educating and engaging a diverse and growing audience; by serving as an integral part of the Chautauqua community; by exemplifying artistic excellence in presenting programs that celebrate both tradition and innovation; and by demonstrating sound financial stewardship.

Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre community on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York State, where approximately 7,500 persons are in residence on any day during a nine-week season, and a total of more than 100,000 attend scheduled public events. Chautauqua Institution is dedicated to the exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life through a program that explores the important religious, social and political issues of our times; stimulates provocative, thoughtful involvement of individuals and families in creative response to such issues; and promotes excellence and creativity in the appreciation, performance and teaching of the arts.

For press inquiries or questions, email Sara Noble, Director of Marketing and Engagement, at sara@chautopera.org.

Learn more about our 2020 season at opera.chq.org.

Learn more about our 2020 Guest Artists and Directors at chq.org/opera-about/guestartists

News Links