On February 15, at the opening night performance of The Little Prince, General Director Ken McConnell and Artistic Director Tobias Picker announced Tulsa Opera’s 72nd season, comprising classics such as Bizet’s Carmen and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, and a new production of Mr. Picker’s 1996 opera Emmeline, to be performed in Oklahoma for the first time, and led by Mr. Picker in his opera-conducting debut.
“We are pleased to present a season of three operas that showcase fiercely determined and strong female central characters, including Emmeline composed by our own Artistic Director Tobias Picker,” said Ken McConnell. “Tulsa’s opera audience continues to grow and our community engagement is stronger than ever. This season we continue our mission to present operas of the highest artistic quality that also resonate deeply with our public.”
Mr. Picker said, “I’m excited to build on our current season’s theme of inclusion by turning the spotlight to extraordinary female characters and the artists that will portray them in the 2019-2020 season. Three fascinating women making three very different and fateful choices form a unifying theme in the coming season; and to bring their emotional stories to life, we have engaged many of the finest singers, conductors, and directors of our time, including 23 artists who will make their Tulsa Opera debuts and 12 returning artists.”
All performances will be held in the Chapman Music Hall at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. Carmen opens the season on October 25 and 27, 2019, followed by Madama Butterfly on February 28 and March 1, 2020, and Emmeline on May 1 and 3, 2020.
Friday, October 25 and Sunday, October 27, 2019
Georges Bizet’s four act opera Carmen, one of the most popular and frequently performed operas in the classical canon, returns to the stage having been last performed at Tulsa Opera in 2014. Performing some of the best known of all operatic arias―the “Habañera” and “Toreador Song”―are American mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko, who makes her Tulsa Opera debut as Carmen, and former Tulsa Opera Young Artist, Alexander Birch Elliott in the role of Escamillo. Adam Smith also makes his Tulsa Opera debut as Don José, the naïve soldier who is seduced by the wiles of the fiery Carmen, and soprano Colleen Daly makes her company debut as Micaela, José’s abandoned childhood sweetheart.
Friday, February 28 and Sunday, March 1, 2020
Last presented by Tulsa Opera in 2012, Francesca Zambello’s production of Madama Butterfly returns to the stage with notable artists making their company debuts including soprano Maria Natale as the geisha Cio-Cio San, tenor Matthew White as the United States Navy lieutenant Pinkerton living in Japan, and mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier as Cio-Cio San’s faithful attendant. Baritone Aleksey Bogdanov returns to Tulsa Opera as Sharpless.
Friday, May 1 and Sunday, May 3, 2020
Tulsa Opera presents a new production of Tobias Picker’s first opera, Emmeline, in its Oklahoma premiere. Originally set in mid-nineteenth-century Maine, this new production by director Tara Faircloth updates the opera for a contemporary audience by setting the story in modern times. Mr. Picker makes his opera-conducting debut leading a cast that includes soprano Madison Leonard as Emmeline and tenor Jonathan Johnson as her son Matthew Gurney, both in their Tulsa Opera debuts.
Based on a true story and the book Emmeline by Judith Rossner also inspired by the real-life events, the opera tells the story of Emmeline Mosher, who gives her illegitimate son up for adoption. Twenty years later the two meet and marry; when they discover the secret, Emmeline is abandoned by her son and shunned by her community. She fiercely chooses to live out her life on her own terms.
Emmeline was premiered by Santa Fe Opera in 1996, and was subsequently televised nationally on PBS’ Great Performances. The opera received its east coast premiere by New York City Opera in 1998, and in 2015, Opera Theatre of St. Louis mounted a major new production that was praised as “a work of gripping emotional intensity and extraordinary musical expressivity” (Dallas Morning News), “one of the best operas written in the past 25 years” (Wall Street Journal), and “the greatest American opera of the 20th century” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).