The monthly lifestyle magazine for New England
The Mission of the BLO is Vibrantly Clear; build curiosity, enthusiasm and new capacities.
Through a long history of successes—the BLO proclaims the title as the largest and longest-lived opera company in New England. It is the BLO who gives voice to a specialized form of theater and music; not to be confused with music-theater; a point sometimes misunderstood, albeit less appreciated.
Through innovation and creative forethought, the organization has become known as one of the most interesting and desirable music production company in the world. The group’s unique programming and engagement with outside communities, has captured the attention and appreciation of all ages by way of its user-friendly opera-experiences.
Founded in 1976, the company has staged world and US premieres, co-productions and co-commissions of note, with organizations such as The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Scottish Opera and the San Francisco Opera.
With such highly acclaimed credentials, it’s no wonder this forward thinking opera company is attracting multi-disciplined talent from around the globe.
For those unfamiliar or cloistered from the depth, form and function of this musical expression, they are only an aria from learning about the historical and emotional characterizations, and melodic style of vocals singularly associated with this type of performance.
The structure and attraction of the Boston-based opera company come from the leadership of Stanford Calderwood General & Artistic Director Esther Nelson. Under Nelson’s direction, the BLO is making great strides in opening its doors to new audiences; through an expanding repertoire of works, inclusive to new members, she recognizes this group’s search for a station to board the artistic journey opera offers.
The Artistic Director’s guidance and management in business related matters has translated to secure financial footing, rave reviews, and sell-out performance which is a measure of success for both the BLO and Nelson’s vision.
It’s estimated that some 25,000 people enjoyed BLO performances last year and with partnerships of other organizations vital to the cultural landscape of Boston, like the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Boston Public Library, a diverse and faithful audience will continue to grow.
The 2019/2020 season will span three-centuries of composers; the theme of power and politics are intended to stir passion and interest in new neighborhoods and with a new audience. Artists, coming from diverse backgrounds, will guide us through a new prism of musical entertainment.
The following information is provided by the Boston Lyric Opera. We suggest you visit their website for accuracy and changes for time and location of events
September 27 – October 6
location to be announced
The BLO’s season opens with Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s indelible Pagliacci, starring Mexico-born tenor Rafael Rojas as Canio and his murderous circus clown alter-ego of the title. African American soprano Lauren Michelle, an alumna of Walnut Hill School in Natick, Mass., and a finalist in 2015’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest, plays Nedda. Tobias Greenhalgh sings the role of Silvio, Nedda’s lover. Michael Mayes (2016’s Carmen and 2014’s Rigoletto) returns as Tonio. BLO’s emerging artist, alumnus Omar Najmi sings Beppe-Harlequin. BLO Music Director David Angus conducts. Pagliacci, written in 1892, will be sung in English and Italian. David Lefkowich directs the opera and the complete immersive experience, with food, music, and acrobats, mirroring the carnival atmosphere that sets the storyline in motion. Local community choruses and singers (plus on-site audience members) will be tapped to participate in the event and the performance alongside BLO’s professional chorus.
“Pagliacci is a quintessential opera…and I’m delighted to produce it for the first time at BLO,” Nelson says. “The music is direct and filled with sweeping melodic passion. At its heart is a jealous, abusive husband driven to murder his unfaithful young wife. But the dramatic backdrop is far more complex, frequently blurring the line between acting and reality. It is a perfect opera to bring together and celebrate our community partnerships. Rafael Rojas and Lauren Michelle will bring chemistry and excitement to our stage as the doomed couple.”
November 13 – 17
at the Emerson Paramount Center
BLO’s deep bench of emerging artists is featured with returning artist Jesse Blumberg in the New England premiere of composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce’s 2016 opera Fellow Travelers. This taut political thriller is based on Thomas Mallon’s 2007 historical novel of faith, love, and politics during the McCarthy era when homosexuals were blackmailed and purged from US government positions. In the shadow of 1950’s anti-Communist hysteria, powerful state department Executive Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller seduces Washington, DC transplant Timothy Laughlin, sparking a furtive romance after securing him a speechwriting job. Hawkins’ circle of friends and colleagues may—or may not—be keeping his secret from the prying eyes of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Fellow Travelers will be directed by Minnesota-based Peter Rothstein, artistic director of Theater Latte Da, whose own docu-musical All is Calm, made its off-Broadway debut last year. San Francisco-based conductor Emily Senturia leads the BLO orchestra. BLO’s 2018 Principal Artist in Residence Jesse Darden (2018’s Schoenberg In Hollywood) stars as Timothy alongside Jesse Blumberg (2017’s Burke & Hare) as Hawk. James Maddalena (seen most recently in 2017’s Tosca and 2018’s The Threepenny Opera) sings several roles including a senator, a general and a bartender. Emerging artist alumni cast members include Chelsea Basler, Vincent Turregano, David McFerrin, Simon Dyer, and Michelle Trainor. “Fellow Travelers is a love story set in a troubling time of American history,” Nelson says. “In the name of national security and against so-called ‘anti-American activities,’ American lives were needlessly ruined, and promising careers were ended.”
March 13 – 22
at Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Russia-born soprano Elena Stikhina made her American debut in Boston Lyric Opera’s 2017 Tosca and a critically lauded Metropolitan Opera debut late last year in Puccini’s Il Trittico. This season she makes her role debut at BLO as the title character in Vincenzo Bellini’s 1831 bel canto opera, Norma, best known for its popular aria “Casta Diva (Chaste Goddess).” Set in first-century B.C. Gaul, the story recounts a love triangle between Norma, a high priestess of the Druids, Pollione a high-ranking Roman official, and Adalgisa, a Druid temple virgin whom Pollione takes as a lover. Against the background of a civil uprising that she instigates, Norma works to convince Pollione to leave Adalgisa and return to her.
The notoriously challenging title role has been sung by many great voices including Maria Callas, Dame Joan Sutherland, Montserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto and Beverly Sills (in the Opera Company of Boston’s 1971 production under Sarah Caldwell). African American bass-baritone Alfred Walker (seen in BLO’s 2013 The Flying Dutchman and recently named to play Crown in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019/2020 production of Porgy and Bess) returns to BLO as Norma’s father, Oroveso. Jonathan Burton (BLO’s 2017 Tosca) returns as Pollione, and BLO favorite Sandra Piques-Eddy (Werther, 2016 and Katya Kabanova, 2015) returns as Adalgisa. Stephanie Havey (Assistant Director for BLO’s 2014 Rigoletto) returns as Stage Director. Music Director David Angus will lead the BLO Orchestra. “Bellini’s long melodies and hypnotizing musical phrases, which so directly articulate the unfolding dramatic events, are as alluring today as they were nearly 190 years ago,” says Nelson. “The story has plenty to say about the abuse of power. But the headline here, as throughout the season, is the singers. Elena Stikhina will be electrifying in this role.”
May 8 – 17
location to be announced
G. F. Handel’s 1760 work Giulio Cesare, BLO’s first Baroque opera since 2011’s Agrippina, closes the 2019/20 Season in a production directed by Matthew Ozawa. With a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym, this opera, like Norma, takes its story from first-century B.C. Rome—this time by way of Egypt with Caesar’s and Cleopatra’s entangled love story. The work is conducted by Gary Thor Wedow, a Baroque music master with a historically informed style heard previously in BLO’s Agrippina, who leads the BLO orchestra, which will include period instruments. Canadian counter-tenor David Trudgen (BLO’s 2010 Agrippina)—also well-versed in the Handel repertoire—sings the title role. Boston native and New England Conservatory graduate Jacquelyn Stucker, whose vibrant European career includes a recent two-year engagement with the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, sings Cleopatra. Making his BLO debut is South Korean counter-tenor Siman Chung as boy-king Tolomeo. Canada’s Wallis Giunta, winner of 2018’s International Opera Awards “Young Singer of the Year” award, makes her Boston debut singing en travesti as Sesto Pompeo. Emerging Artist alumnus Simon Dyer (2017’s The Rake’s Progress) and David McFerrin (2018’s Burke & Hare and the current The Rape of Lucretia) return to the company singing General Curio and Achilla, respectively. Renee Tatum (2018’s The Threepenny Opera) is Cornelia.
“Giulio Cesare is based loosely on Caesar’s fateful meeting in Egypt with the rebellious Cleopatra,” Nelson says. “What evolves is one of the most entertaining examples of opera aria, with larger-than-life characters performing some of the genre’s most passionate, intoxicating, mischievous, and majestic arias that narrate the love story of Caesar and Cleopatra. These roles demand singers with extraordinary vocal capabilities and our cast will excel in them, especially under the baton of Gary Wedow.”
For additional information or tickets, visit BLO.org or call 617.542.6772.