SANTA FE, N.M. — The Santa Fe Opera 2020 season lineup opens with a pair of classics, stirs in some Wagnerian grandeur and spices the results with the tale of a French diplomat who falls for a Chinese opera star.
The company premiere of Antonín Dvorák’s “Rusalka” will complete the opera’s 64th year, SFO general director Robert Meya announced on Wednesday.
Perpetual favorites “The Barber of Seville” and “The Magic Flute” will helm opening weekend. The 2020 season runs from July 3 through Aug. 29, 2020.
Meya also revealed the 2019 season poster features “The Beyond,” a minimalist landscape oil by Georgia O’Keeffe. This marks the first SFO poster of O’Keeffe’s work in a collaboration between the opera and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.
Composer Huang Ruo’s “M. Butterfly” will join this season’s “The Thirteenth Child” and the 2021 season’s “The Lord of Cries” in a trio of world premieres, Meya said.
“This was masterminded by (former SFO director) Charles MacKay,” Meya said.
Santa Fe premiered Ruo’s opera “Dr. Sun Yat-Sen” in 2014. That piece opened in Hong Kong but was banned in mainland China.
“The New York Times quote was that some American company needed to do this work,” Meya said.
“M. Butterfly” was David Henry Hwang’s Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist Broadway play. The 1993 film starred Jeremy Irons.
The libretto was inspired by the true story of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year love affair with a star of the Peking Opera, concealing a secret at its heart. The story’s many parallels with Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” echo in the new opera’s music.
The 2020 season will open with “The Barber of Seville,” Rossini’s most popular comedy.
“We think it’s a very fun and festive way to kick off the season,” Meya said. “It’s set in Seville, and there’s an almost slapstick element of comedy.”
The libretto traces the efforts of the clever Figaro to win Count Almaviva his chosen bride Rosina.
The young cast includes Emily D’Angelo (Rosina) and former SFO apprentice Jack Swanson (Count Almaviva).
The Canadian mezzo-soprano D’Angelo is in her second year as a member of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
“She’s one of the fast-rising mezzos,” Meya said.
The SFO stage crew is busy rebuilding Santa Fe’s 2010 set for “The Magic Flute.”
Former SFO apprentice Audrey Luna will sing the role of the Queen of the Night.
Luna possesses an “intergalactic voice,” Meya said. “She has the highest range I’ve ever heard.”
“Tristan and Isolde” marks only the second time Santa Fe has staged anything by Wagner, because of the difficulty of casting and the need for extra musicians and rehearsal time.
Tamara Wilson will sing the role in her company debut. Well-known New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill is Tristan.
“Rusalka” is the first Dvorák opera to appear at Santa Fe. With echoes of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” the opera weaves the tale of a water nymph who pays the highest price for the chance to love a human being.