ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Santa Fe Opera’s 2015 season will open with five new productions, including the world premiere of “Cold Mountain,” in a lineup spanning four centuries.
“It’s a romantic tragedy in the best operatic tradition,” SFO general director Charles MacKay said.
Based on Charles Frazier’s best-selling novel, “Cold Mountain” will star Metropolitan Opera baritone Nathan Gunn as Inman, the wounded Confederate deserter. Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who played Costanza in the SFO’s 2011 production of “Griselda,” will sing the role of Ada. Tenor Jay Hunter Morris, internationally known for his portrayal of Siegfried in the Met’s 2011-12 series of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” and a former Santa Fe apprentice, is the villain Teague.
The National Book Award-winning story has been compared to Homer’s “Odyssey.” The 2003 film version starred Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon penned the score with a libretto by Gene Scheer. The opera is a co-production with Opera Philadelphia and the Minnesota Opera.
The season will open with Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment,” the SFO’s debut production of this sparkling romantic comedy from the bel canto era. Soprano Anna Christy and lyric tenor Alek Shrader will sing the roles of the Marquise of Birkenfeld and Tonio. The opera will include many of the cast members from 2011’s “The Last Savage,” MacKay added.
The libretto portrays the beautiful and vivacious young Marie, abandoned on a battlefield and raised by a regiment of soldiers. She loves Tonio, a shepherd who became a soldier to be near her. Absconded by wealthy relatives, she pines for her former life and love.
In another first SFO production, Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniera” (roughly translated as “The False Gardeners,” MacKay said) is an often-overlooked comedy written when the composer was just 18.
The wildly improbable story covers love, double identities and a hero and heroine who believe they are Greek gods. The opera will star returning lyric soprano and former SFO apprentice Susanna Phillips, now starring in the Metropolitan Opera production of Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte,” with tenor William Burden, another former apprentice, and baritone Joshua Hopkins.
In honor of Richard Strauss’ 150th birthday, the company will perform a new production of the classic “Salome,” last performed by the SFO in 2006. A searing one-act drama of obsession, it premiered in 1910. Grammy-nominated soprano Alex Penda will sing the title role, with bass/baritone Ryan McKinny as Jochanaan.
The SFO will revive Verdi’s classic “Rigoletto” for the first time in 15 years, MacKay said. Present on most “Top 10” opera favorite lists, the dark tragedy invokes love and betrayal and their consequences. The tragic title character is a court jester who tries to protect his young daughter Gilda from the world. She innocently gives her love to the callous Duke, only to fall victim to his treachery. “Rigoletto” will star baritone Quinn Kelsey as Rigoletto and tenor Bryan Hymel as the Duke.
In fiscal news, MacKay said as other opera companies nationwide shrink, the SFO continues to be fiscally healthy. This summer’s ticket sales are on pace with 2013’s. Last season’s total sales brought in $8.9 million, the highest in SFO history. That number represents 90 percent of capacity.
For a complete schedule, visit santafeopera.org or call 505-986-5955.