Share story

A return to a full slate of six productions, two never-seen-at-Seattle-Opera stagings and a world premiere await opera patrons in the 2015-16 season.

“We are excited to offer a season that is so varied, both in terms of repertoire and presentation style,” Seattle Opera general director Aidan Lang said in a statement. The lineup is reflective of seasons past, with a romantic, hummable favorite, a locally nuanced premiere, the promise of at least one very inventive staging and a Wagnerian flourish.

Lang announced these productions:

• “Nabucco” (Aug. 8-22): Guiseppe Verdi’s biblically based epic about the Babylonian king has, surprisingly, never been staged by Seattle Opera. Baritone Gordon Hawkins (Nabucco), Mary Elizabeth Williams (Abigaille) and Christian Van Horn (Zaccaria) are among the cast; Carlo Montanaro will conduct, while François Racine will direct a new production with sets by Seattle Opera’s own Robert Schaub.

• “An American Dream” (Aug. 21 and 23): This world-premiere production sprung from the company’s Belonging(s) Project, which asked people: “If you had to leave your home today and couldn’t return, what would you want to take with you?” Two of the stories submitted by women — one Japanese American and one German American — dealt with loss during World War II, and formed the basis of “Dream,” by librettist Jessica Murphy Moo and composer Jack Perla. “The workshop process of ‘An American Dream’ revealed an unexpected resonance with one of the key themes of ‘Nabucco,’ which we had already planned, so we jumped at the opportunity to present the two works in parallel,” Lang said in the season release. Baritone Morgan Smith, a graduate of the company’s Young Artists Program, and soprano D’Ana Lombard sing the roles of Jim and Eva; Nina Yoshida Nelsen, Adam Lau and Hae Ji Chang portray members of a Japanese-American family. Judith Yan will conduct and Peter Kazaras directs.

• “The Pearl Fishers” (Oct. 17-31): Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, whose rainbow-hued, touch-me costumes fluttered in the company’s 2011 “Magic Flute,” returns with costumes and sets for Georges Bizet’s story of a tropical love triangle among two fishermen and an alluring Brahmin priestess. Maureen McKay (a regular on European stages and another YAP grad) makes her mainstage debut as the priestess Leila; John Tessier and Brett Polegato are fishers Nadir and Zurga. Director Andrew Sinclair and conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak are also making their Seattle debuts.

• “The Marriage of Figaro” (Jan. 16-30, 2016): Lang will don his directorial hat for his own very well-received 2010 production of Mozart’s comedy about one “folle journée” (“crazy day”) of marriage and romance on the estate of Count Almaviva. Along with brilliant comedic timing and favorite tunes, “Figaro” has lively artists: Nuccia Focile is Susanna, Morgan Smith returns as Count Almaviva and Gary Thor Wedow will conduct. Chinese bass-baritone Shenyang makes his Seattle debut as the valet of the title role.

• “Mary Stuart” (Feb. 27-28 and March 2-12, 2016): Another first for the company, Gaetano Donizetti’s “Mary Stuart” places Protestant Queen Elizabeth I in a stormy (and fictional) encounter with her condemned Catholic cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Christine Rice and Joyce El-Khoury share the role of Mary, with Mary Elizabeth Williams and Keri Alkema as QEI. Carlo Montanaro is at the podium and Kevin Newbury makes his Seattle Opera debut as director.

• “The Flying Dutchman” (May 7-21, 2016): What’s a Seattle Opera season without a helping of Richard Wagner? “The Flying Dutchman,” complete with a cursed sea captain and the redemptive power of true love, sails in with a crew of master Wagnerians: Greer Grimsley, Daniel Sumegi, Alwyn Mellor and David Danholt, winner of the 2014 International Wagner Competition. This production is new to Seattle, from the Canadian Opera Company. Christopher Alden will direct, and Sebastian Lang-Lessing will conduct. Also new with the “Dutchman”: a collaborative program of performances and events, presented by the opera and UW College of Arts and Sciences, exploring the theme of “exile.”

More info and tickets: 206-389-7676 or 800-426-1618 or

Melissa Davis:; Twitter @DuckMel