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2017 Season to feature three mainstage productions, including the U.S. Stage Premiere of Respighi’s realization of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo

Gity Razaz joins the company as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence, writing three commissions that will receive world premieres during the summer season


The Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2017 season will include the U.S. Stage Premiere of Respighi’s sumptuous realization of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, in the new Chautauqua Amphitheater (July 8), directed by Keturah Stickann; Donizetti’s boisterous Don Pasquale (July 28 and 31), directed by David Schweizer, in Norton Hall; and Philip Glass’ and Allen Ginsberg’s chamber opera Hydrogen Jukebox (July 27 and August 1), directed by Cara Consilvio, running in rep with Don Pasquale in Norton Hall. All three mainstage productions will be conducted by General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood, with set designs by Caleb Wertenbaker, lighting and video design by Michael Baumgarten, costume design by B. G. FitzGerald and Anthony Paul-Cavaretta, and wig and makeup design by Martha Ruskai.

"Our entire 2017 season is a celebration of opera as the living, breathing art form it has been for over four centuries. Masterpieces such as Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo can disappear for hundreds of years, only to be rediscovered by composers such as Respighi. Comedies such as Don Pasquale have kept audiences laughing for almost 200 years. Hydrogen Jukebox and the works of Composer-in-Residence Gity Razaz reflect how opera continues to grow and speak so directly to today’s audience, " says General and Artistic Director Steven Osgood.

In addition to the three mainstage productions, Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 season will include over 30 diverse events featuring the Chautauqua Opera Young Artists, including a new operatic revue for young audiences, concerts with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, and six engaging pop-up events as part of the Opera Invasion series.  The last week of Chautauqua Opera’s summer season (July 31-August 5), will shine the spotlight on the 24 talented Young Artists who make up the core of the company.  Continuing its partnership with American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program, this season will also include three world premieres by Chautauqua Opera’s 2017 Composer-in-Residence, Gity Razaz.


The company will open the 2017 season with the U.S. stage premiere of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, in a realization composed by Ottorino Respighi—one of the 20th century’s masters of orchestration.  Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, which premiered in 1607, is recognized as one of the very first masterpieces of the operatic medium. Respighi, composer of orchestral tone poems such as The Pines of Rome, was one of the first modern composers to “rediscover” Monteverdi’s score after it had fallen into obscurity. L’Orfeo was one of the last works he created before his death, and had been a life-long dream. His lush and romantic orchestration accentuates the dramatic heartbeat of the opera, surrounding Monteverdi’s haunting melodies with evocative and colorful music.

Keturah Stickann returns to CHQ to direct and choreograph L’Orfeo, following her striking production of La Traviata last season. Ms. Stickann is a frequent collaborator with theater and opera director, Leonard Foglia, with whom she has worked on world premiere productions including Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick and It’s A Wonderful Life, the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Ricky Ian Gordon’s A Coffin in Egypt, and Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain.  Her recent directing credits include Seven Deadly Sins/Pagliacci (Virginia Opera), Tosca (Knoxville Opera), and Macbeth (Kentucky Opera).

The cast stars baritone Daniel Belcher in the title role, who made his Chautauqua Opera debut as Pooh-Bah in The Mikado last season. Mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson will make her Chautauqua Opera debut singing three pivotal roles, all figures who have a dramatic effect on the opera’s narrative—Music, Hope, and the Messenger.  Filling out the remaining roles and forming the prominent chorus will be the 24 members of Chautauqua Opera’s Young Artist Program.  


Don Pasquale
True Italian farce returns to the stage of Norton Hall, continuing Chautauqua Opera's dedication to performing operas for the entire family. In Donizetti’s hilarious tale of love and deception, hijinks ensue when the aging bachelor, Don Pasquale, pursues the spirited Norina, hoping to trap himself a much younger wife.  

Vying for comedic command of CHQ’s historic Norton Hall, Don Pasquale will star Italian bass-baritone Stefano de Peppo, in one of his signature roles, as Don Pasquale and charismatic baritone Kyle Pfortmiller as the scheming Doctor Malatesta. 2017 Apprentice Artists Laura Soto-Bayomi and Arnold Livingston Geis join them as the witty Norina and lovesick Ernesto.

David Schweizer makes his Chautauqua Opera Company debut directing this new production. Schweizer’s long career has included a vastly eclectic mix of theatrically innovative work in a wide range of styles and venues, including Troilus and Cressida for the opening of the Mitzi Newhouse Theater in Lincoln Square, Richard Rodney Bennett’s opera The Mines of Sulphur for New York City Opera, and critically-acclaimed collaborations with composer/performer Rinde Eckert directing Eckert’s And God Created Great Whales (OBIE Award) and Horizon (Lucille Lortel Award).


Hydrogen Jukebox
Hydrogen Jukebox, which premiered in 1990, is the result of a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between composer Philip Glass and poet Allen Ginsberg.  Six singers and six instrumentalists join forces in this powerful setting of 20 Ginsberg poems, which explore American society and politics in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s.  The score alternates between gentle, achingly beautiful melodies and driving textures that perfectly capture the pulse of Ginsberg’s radical poetry.

Cara Consilvio, who has been part of Chautauqua Opera’s directing staff since 2014, will make her Chautauqua Opera mainstage directing debut. Ms. Consilvio most recently directed Hansel and Gretel at Tri-Cities Opera, Street Scene at Loyola University, and was the Showcase Director for the OPERA America 2016 New Works Sampler at the annual OPERA America Conference.

Six Apprentice Artists will take on this challenging and emotional contemporary masterpiece: sopranos Chelsea Friedlander and Helen Hassinger, mezzo-soprano Natalie Rose Havens, tenor Eric Wassenaar, baritone Mario Diaz-Moresco, bass Evan Ross.


2017 marks the second year of a multi-year collaboration between the Chautauqua Opera Company and Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects (AOP). Each year the Chautauqua Opera Company will invite one alumnus of AOP’s prestigious Composers & the Voice Fellowship Program to join the company for the 8-week summer season.

The Chautauqua Opera Company has named Gity Razaz as the 2017 Composer-in-Residence. Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Ms. Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to large symphonic works. With an ear for intense melodies and expanding harmonic language, Ms. Razaz’s compositions are often dramatically charged; as described by John Corigliano: “…her Middle-Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling.“ Born in Tehran, Ms. Razaz started her musical studies in piano at a young age and began composing intuitively at age nine.

"I believe that my music finds more strength, depth and intensity when I live within a vibrant ecosystem of artists with diverse creative backgrounds,” says Ms. Razaz. “I am thrilled to add my voice to CHQ’s musical community this summer."

American Opera Projects will commission three new pieces from Ms. Razaz, each of which will be premiered as part of Chautauqua Opera’s season, by members of its Young Artist Program, and then be presented in AOP’s subsequent New York City season.


For more information about the Chautauqua Opera Company’s 2017 Season, please visit ciweb.org/opera-season
For biographies of the 2017 Guest Artists, please visit ciweb.org/guest-artists
For biographies of the 2017 Chautauqua Opera Young Artists, please visit ciweb.org/2017-young-artists
For more information about Gity Razaz and the Composer-in-Residence program, please visit ciweb.org/composer-in-residence




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