The new Seattle Opera season includes “Le comte Ory,” “Hansel & Gretel,” “La Traviata,” “Katya Kabanova” and “The Magic Flute.”
The 2016-17 season at Seattle Opera is the first fully programmed by general director Aidan Lang. Seasons are set up years in advance, so when he arrived in 2014, he had to wait his turn. In an interview last month, he emphasized the new.
Seattle Opera patrons will no longer be presented with “gold” and “silver” casts for each production. The tradition started in Seattle with the company’s founder, Glynn Ross, because it allowed more performances in a short period of time, giving singers the chance to rest their voices.
The gold cast was stocked with major, well-known singers and the silver with new, emerging artists (and sometimes terrific new discoveries).
No more. “The two casts will be as even as possible,” Lang said, with “lots of debuts in both casts.”
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Also: Of the five operas in the new season, two have not been seen here. That means new people, too — more than 40 artists, including singers, conductors and creative teams, will come to Seattle for the first time, according to an opera news release. “It’s important to refresh our popular faces,” Lang said.
“Le comte Ory,” or “The Wicked Adventures of Count Ory,” Aug. 6-20. Gioachino Rossini’s story of a libidinous count is “a riotous, bawdy comedy,” Lang said in December. “It’s ‘Monty Python’ meets ‘Blackadder’ ‘seasons 1 and 2. It’s one of the few comic operas that is genuinely funny.” Bel canto master Lawrence Brownlee and Sarah Coburn (both seen here in “Daughter of the Regiment” in 2013) will sing the roles of Count Ory and Countess Adele; Australian director Lindy Hume is at the helm. “Ory” is a Seattle Opera premiere.
“Hansel & Gretel,” Oct. 15-29. Not seen in Seattle since 1994, Engelbert Humperdinck’s popular 1893 opera has an ecological message that should resonate with Seattle audiences, Lang noted. Expect a grocery-store scene, a dismal, littered forest and a witch in drag. Ashley Emerson and Anya Matanovic will sing the role of Gretel; Sasha Cooke and Sarah Larsen will perform Hansel. Laurent Pelly directed this production at Glyndebourne in England; the Guardian called it a “gleefully ghoulish satire on consumerism.”
“La traviata,” Jan. 14-28, 2017. This is a new take on Giuseppe Verdi’s tragedy about a courtesan and her one true love. “Traviata” is usually presented as a frothy, melodramatic tale full of sumptuous ballgowns; Lang calls this production “a very serious piece of work. It’s uncompromising in its truthfulness to Violetta’s situation.” Corinne Winters sings Violetta opposite Stefano Secco as Alfredo. Angel Blue, described by Plácido Domingo as “the next Leontyne Price,” sings Violetta opposite Zach Borichevsky.
“Katya Kabanova,” Feb. 25-March 11. Leoš Janáček’s opera, which premiered in 1921, is another work that is new to Seattle. Australian director Patrick Nolan’s production uses the backdrop of a small Pacific Northwest town to tell the story of Katya (Winters and Melody Moore), who yearns to be free of her arranged marriage, her dull life and her mother-in-law.
“The Magic Flute,” May 6-20. The company closes the season with Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” last presented here in 2011 in shimmering color thanks to costumes by fashion designer Zandra Rhodes. Christina Poulitsi makes her Seattle Opera debut as Queen of the Night, who sends a prince and his companion to rescue her daughter. English conductor Julia Jones also makes her Seattle debut in “Flute,” as do Elliot Madore and Craig Verm, as Papageno.
Subscriptions and renewals are on sale now; prices range from $225 to $3,915. More info: 206-389-7676 or seattleopera.org.