Cecilia Violetta Lopez - Mimi in “La Bohème” & Eric Jacobsen - Conductor for "Cinderella" & Amanda Crider - Cinderella
Love Lost and Found: Opera Orlando’s 2nd Season
Eric Jacobson leads the Orlando Philharmonic for Cinderella in March, 2018
The inaugural season of Opera Orlando has been distinguished by critical and audience acclaim and sold out houses. For a myriad of reasons, the 2017-2018 season will have an even greater impact in Central Florida.
“From the moment we launched Opera Orlando on the coattails of Florida Opera Theatre a year ago January, our primary goal was to become the leading voice for the art form in the region,” said Gabriel Preisser, the Executive and Artistic Director of the company. “Through the hard work of our staff and board and the stalwart support from so many in the community, we have shown that opera can indeed have a powerful impact in Central Florida."
In January, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced that it would no longer produce operas, rather preferring to “... hand off the artistic and administrative leadership (of opera) to the capable hands of Opera Orlando,” according to RK Kelley, the orchestra’s board president. But out of this decision has come a new partnership between the organizations that assures the artistic quality of all main-stage productions will be on a consistently high level.
“The Philharmonic will be our orchestra and we couldn’t be more delighted,” said Robin Jensen, Opera Orlando’s Music Director. “And for our upcoming season, we’ll have their Music Director, Eric Jacobson, conducting Rossini’s ‘Cinderella.’ Also by adding the Orlando Ballet to any productions that have dance episodes, we feel we’re putting the best that Orlando has to offer together for our community.”
The 2017-18 season kicks off in an intimate manner with “Opera on Park: The Summer Concert Series,” three vocal recitals featuring nationally-renowned artists on three Sundays in August each at 2 pm. Multi award-winning soprano Kenneithia Mitchell performs on the 6th ; Grammy-award-winning baritone Daniel Belcher is featured on the 13th; and Metropolitan Opera Soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer concludes the series on the 27th. This is a mainstay of the company and will once again be held at the University Club of Winter Park (841 N. Park Ave, 32789).
The company then moves into the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando for the rest of its season where the Orlando Philharmonic will join for each of three fully-staged and costumed productions.
Giacomo Puccini’s beloved “La Bohème” opens the main-stage season on November 15-19. The original story’s 1830 setting for the colorful ensemble of struggling artists will be transported to the Roaring 20s of Paris – the “City of Lights.” Metropolitan Opera Roster Artist Cecilia Violetta Lopez will make her Opera Orlando debut in the iconic soprano role of the doomed Mimi (love lost). She will be well-matched by the acclaimed Ben Gulley in the role of Rudolfo whom Opera News calls “…an outstanding tenor,” also making his company debut.
Company-favorite soprano Bridgett Gan returns to performs Musetta. Preisser will take the stage and perform the key baritone role of Marcello. Other principals include, bass-baritone Nathan Stark as Colline and baritone Brian James Myer as Schaunard. All three men were featured this past August in an “Opera on Park” recital. One of opera’s true rising stars of the “pit,” Andres Cladera, will conduct all performances.
Opera Orlando welcomes back two company favorites behind the scenes for Puccini’s masterpiece: Robert Neu follows up his acclaimed work for “Don Giovanni” and will be stage director and Kim Welborn will design and build costumes.
Opera Orlando set out to create a holiday tradition through performances of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Christmas opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” in December, 2016. Audiences, young and old alike, were delighted by a series of performances throughout Orlando. For an all-new production designed and directed by the company’s new production manager Grant Preisser, the same formula will be put to work in 2017. Jensen will once again be music director and conductor and Cara Pfost is co-director.
Until this past June, Morgan Davis Peckels was the Social Media Manager for Opera Orlando but her blossoming career as a voice teacher and mezzo soprano caused her to have to resign. She’ll stay in the family though, performing the powerful role of the Mother in Amahl. This she will do while expecting her first child in January. The Orlando Ballet will once again add dance to the production. Three Pugh Theater performances are slated for December 9-10. A special performance of Amahl will take place at the Gaylord Palms Resort as part of ICE on December 20th including both the Orlando Philharmonic and Ballet.
Then for March 21-25, a fantastical production of Gioachino Rossini’s “Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola” in Italian) will conclude the 2017-18 season with a happy ending when the well-known heroine is reunited with Prince Ramiro in this cartoon-like comedy (love found). Conductor Jacobsen will make his Opera Orlando debut. Internationally-renowned stage director Ophelie Wolf will make her Opera Orlando debut for this production as well. Costumes will be designed and built by a favorite of the Metropolitan Opera, Charles Caine.
On stage, Opera Orlando welcomes back mezzo soprano Amanda Crider, a soloist in last summer’s “Opera on Park,” in the title role and Tenor Javier Abreu, who was heard in the “One Voice Orlando Pulse Nightclub Benefit” will make his official company debut as her “Prince Charming.” Heralded Veteran Bass Tony Dillon will perform Don Magnifico, Bass-baritone Calvin Griffin is Alidoro and baritone Jonathan Byer is Dandini. All there will make their company debuts.
Opera Orlando will also be heard throughout Central Florida in the 2017-18 with ongoing presentations including a series of special lead-up events for “La Bohème” and “Cinderella.”
“We founded our organization with the mission to inject new life and energy into the traditional operatic repertoire,” explained the John Wettach, President of the Board of Directors “We feel that in the 2017-18 season, we’ll hit our stride as our production concepts challenge us at every turn. We couldn’t be happier.”
Season tickets for the 2017-18 Opera Orlando are currently on sale and are available by visiting or calling the Dr. Phillips Center Box Office at 445 South Magnolia Ave. in Orlando or 844-513-2014. Individual tickets will go on sale in September on a date to be announced soon.
Opera Orlando: Main Stage Operas- 2017-2018 Season
“Love Lost and Found”
All performances in the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at
the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
“La Bohème” by Giacomo Puccini
November 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 pm; November 19 at 2 pm
“Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Gian Carlo Menotti
December 9 at 2pm & 7 pm; December 10 at 2 pm
“Cinderella” (“La Cenerentola”) by Gioachino Rossini
March 21, 23, 24 at 7:30 pm, March 25 at 2 pm