Virginia Opera Opens Their 2016-2017 Season with a Dynamic Double Bill
Submitted by Maggi George

Opera imageSEPTEMBER 14, 2016 – Virginia Opera, "The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” opens its 2016- 2017 opera season with a landmark double-bill of Kurt Weill’s compelling The Seven Deadly Sins paired with a gripping new production of Leoncavallo’s standard of the operatic stage, Pagliacci. Adam Turner, Virginia Opera’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, conducts the Virginia Symphony Orchestra with an all-star cast. Maestro Turner, the inaugural recipient of the prestigious Julius Rudel/Kurt Weill Conducting Fellowship, is joined by a protégé of Virginia Opera’s beloved director Lillian Groag (La Traviata 2015), stage director Keturah Stickann, who makes her directorial debut with the company.

Part of Virginia Opera’s First of Firsts Series, the program opens with a rare opportunity to experience a tour-de-force performance of Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, an unsettling tale of the descent of humanity into darkness. Setting out on a journey across America to aid her poverty- stricken family, Anna – manifested as two facets of one personality, one who sings and one who dances – finds herself on a seven-year, seven-city quest where she ultimately encounters each of the seven deadly sins and falls prey to their influence. A tantalizing tale by Bertolt Brecht, is set to a melodic score by Kurt Weill, combining into a mesmerizing fantasy with clear 21st Century resonance. The role of Anna I will be sung by the internationally renowned Weill specialist, Ute Gfrerer, in her American operatic stage debut, as ballerina Gabrielle Zucker portrays Anna II, the emotional side of her personality.

The second half of the program is a thrilling new production of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. When the "clown” realizes that he, too, experiences sorrow like any other man, his fast-paced journey of jealousy and murder becomes all-consuming. A standard of the operatic stage, featuring one of the classic tenor arias of all time, "Vesti la giubba,” Pagliacci is a gripping drama of love, deception, and revenge. Starring internationally acclaimed soprano Kelly Kaduce as Nedda and renowned tenor Clay Hilley, both in their Virginia Opera debut, as well as the anticipated return of the dynamic baritone Michael Chioldi (Salome 2015), you will be captivated until the last breath.

"Virginia Opera makes a bold repertory choice with this season’s opener designed to pique the interest of both newcomers and seasoned opera goers alike,” says Maestro Turner. He further stated "Virginia Opera is truly excited to present this unique pairing by offering the Virginia Opera debut of a Kurt Weill opera with Pagliacci. These two productions bring to our stages a non-standard double-bill that will frame the classic Pagliacci story in a new light.”

"I am so excited to be making my directorial debut at Virginia Opera, especially with such an unusual pairing of operatic works,” says Director Keturah Stickann. "I’ve always been impressed with Virginia Opera’s high standards,” she continued, "and all the great minds assembled in the room for this production are sure to create an incredible opening of the season.”

Virginia Opera’s First of First Series, of which The Seven Deadly Sins is a part, brings to the Opera’s opening production each season an opera that has never previously been produced by the company. Throughout its 42-year history, Virginia Opera has balanced a mix of standard repertory in exciting new productions with productions that have not received widespread performance opportunities across the Commonwealth. The First of First Series spotlights opera titles that deserve strong productions and add to the programmatic variety for Virginia Opera audiences.

Virginia Opera President and CEO Russell P. Allen commented, "Virginia Opera is committed to bringing to the stage vibrant new repertory and productions, and this company debut of a Kurt Weill opera with a standard repertory work is the perfect match for reaching a wider audience and building interest in our art form.”


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