Opera Southwest announces 2022-23 season - Albuquerque Journal

Opera Southwest announces 2022-23 season

Opera Southwest will celebrate its 50th anniversary wrapped in a season of classic, comic and resurrected operas starring a werewolf and Zorro.

Opening in September at the Albuquerque Museum, “Le Loup-garou” is a one-act work by Louise Bertin. The name means werewolf in French. It was the first opera written by a woman to have been professionally produced. Presented at the Opéra-Comique in Paris in 1827, it is seldom seen today.

“It’s definitely a comedy,” OSW executive director Tony Zancanella said. “It’s one of the few works from this era by a woman.”

Director Elizabeth Margolius will lead a cast of Opera Southwest’s 2022 apprentice artists. The opera stars tenor César Delgado and soprano Laura León.

In October, the season moves to its National Hispanic Cultural Center home with “Zorro,” a new opera by Héctor Armienta, the creator of “Bless Me, Ultima,” a 2018 OSW premier.

“It’s going to be a very hot ticket,” Zancanella said.

The OSW will stage the show as part of its fifth year of partnership with the NHCC on its Hispanic opera series. These productions draw a substantially more diverse audience to the opera house, Zancanella said.

Octavio Cardenas, who staged “Bless Me, Ultima,” Salvatore Sciarrino’s “Lohengrin,” and Ástor Piazzolla’s “María de Buenos Aires” with OSW, will return for Zorro’s swashbuckling adventures.

In February, 2023, the music of OSW artistic director Anthony Barrese’s favorite composer Rossini takes the stage with “Le Comte Ory.” It stars tenor Chris Bozeka and soprano Lindsay Ohse.

“We have done more Rossini operas than any company in America,” Zancanella said. The rarely-heard comic opera contains some of the composer’s most colorful orchestral writing.

Count Ory is a handsome rogue who finds all women irresistible. Jokes, misunderstandings and gender-bending disguises – including knights dressed as nuns – abound in this tale of deception and seduction.

The season will close in March with the Puccini classic “Turandot.” First staged in 1926, it was the composer’s final opera, a fairy tale set in China. The plot focuses on a Chinese princess who challenges suitors to answer three riddles. Those who fail will lose their heads. The company is partnering with Chinese director Xinxin Tang to create a new production celebrating the ability of art to transcend cultural borders. The opera stars soprano Michelle Johnson and tenor Rodell Rosel.

Zancanella credits the OSW’s long-term survival with community support.

“Certainly over the last 15-17 years, the company has been growing at a good clip,” he said. “It’s been a labor of love.”

The 2019 fire and flood that damaged part of the NHCC, paired with the shutdown and restrictions of the pandemic, offered the biggest challenges, he added.

Both revenue and ticket sales are still down 20-25%, a decline Zancanella blamed on the lingering ghost of COVID-19, although last spring’s “Frida,” based on the life of Frida Kahlo, sold out.

But fundraising is the second-highest in the company’s lifetime, Zancanella said.

“We feel like we’re just hitting our stride and we’re more vibrant than the company’s ever been.”

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