Madison, Wis. – Madison Opera has announced its 2019/20 season, which encompasses stories profound and absurd, contemporary and classical, with some of the finest musical scores in the operatic repertoire. The company’s 59th season opens with La Traviata in November, followed by Fellow Travelers in February, andOrpheus in the Underworld in April. The season concludes with the 19th annual Opera in the Park in July.
“Creating an opera season is about creating excitement,” says Kathryn Smith, Madison Opera’s General Director. “I strive for a balance of classic operas, new works, and ones that our audiences may be less-familiar with, and the 2019/20 season is a perfect example of that. La Traviata is justifiably one of the most popular operas in the repertoire. When I saw Fellow Travelers last year, I knew this beautifully haunting work would be perfect for Madison. Orpheus in the Underworld is operatic entertainment at its most witty and delightful, and the perfect way to start spring. We have remarkable casts for all three operas, and I hope everyone will commit to sharing the entire season with us, as we travel from Paris to Washington, D.C., to Hades.”
The season opens in November with Verdi’s masterpiece La Traviata in Overture Hall. While the opera is over 150 years old, its themes of love, social class, and gender inequities still strike a chord in the modern world, and its score contains ravishingly beautiful music. Based on Dumas’ novel The Lady of the Camellias, Verdi’s opera scandalized Italy when it premiered in 1853, but swiftly became one of the most-performed operas in the world.
Returning to Madison Opera are Cecilia Violetta López (Carmen) as Paris courtesan Violetta, and Mackenzie Whitney (Florencia en el Amazonas) as Alfredo, a young man who falls in love with her. Weston Hurt debuts with Madison Opera as Alfredo’s father Germont, who disapproves of his son’s relationship with Violetta. Benjamin Sieverding (Romeo & Juliet) sings Dr. Grenvil, and Benjamin Major debuts as Baron Douphol. Directing this production in her Madison Opera debut is Fenlon Lamb; John DeMain conducts.
The season continues in February with Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers in the Capitol Theater. This acclaimed 2016 opera is set in 1950s Washington, D.C. The “Lavender Scare,” in which suspected homosexuals saw their livelihoods and lives destroyed, has enveloped the U.S. government. Against this backdrop, Timothy Laughlin, a recent college graduate and ardent supporter of Joseph McCarthy, meets Hawkins Fuller, a State Department official. The two men embark on a relationship, tangled in a web of fear and necessary deceit. Their friends and colleagues fill out a story of individuals grappling with their beliefs and emotions. Based on Thomas Mallon’s novel, this opera was praised as “a near-perfect example of fast-flowing musical drama” by the New York Timesand tells of the very human consequences of prejudice and fear, with compassion, nuance, and incredible beauty.
Fellow Travelers welcomes to Madison Opera both new and familiar faces. Making their Madison Opera debuts as the central characters are Andres Acosta as Timothy Laughlin and Ben Edquist as Hawkins Fuller. Returning to Madison Opera are Adriana Zabala (Florencia en el Amazonas) as Hawkin’s assistant and best friend Mary Johnson; Sidney Outlaw (Romeo & Juliet) as Tommy McIntyre, a political insider; and Alan Dunbar (The Magic Flute) as Senator Joseph McCarthy. The production is directed by Peter Rothstein in his Madison Opera debut; John DeMain conducts.
The mainstage season concludes with Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld in April in Overture Hall. A spoof on both mythology and humanity, it takes as a starting point the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice – except in this version, the two are unhappily married, and Eurydice is delighted to die to be with Pluto in the Underworld. Public Opinion demands that the reluctant Orpheus rescue her, and Jupiter and the rest of the gods, who are bored with life on Mt. Olympus, decide to intervene as well. This smash hit operetta, which will be sung in English, is laced with lively tunes, including the famous ‘Infernal Galop,’ it’s the perfect way to start spring.
The large cast stars returning Madison Opera favorites Jeni Houser (A Little Night Music) as Eurydice; David Blalock (Fidelio) as Orpheus; Javier Abreu (The Daughter of the Regiment) as Pluto; Craig Verm (Little Women) as Jupiter; and Robert Goderich (Pagliacci) as John Styx. Former Studio Artist Gillian Hollis sings Cupid, while Judith Skinner and Ariana Douglas make their Madison Opera debuts as Public Opinion and Diana. Alison Moritz (The Abduction from the Seraglio) returns to direct; John DeMain conducts.
Subscriptions for the 2019/20 season are now available and start as low as $52 for all three operas. Tickets can be ordered at online at madisonopera.org or by calling (608) 238-8085. Subscribers save up to 15% off single ticket prices while enjoying this captivating season!