Featuring two Oklahoma premieres and three new productions!

General Director Ken McConnell and Artistic Director Tobias Picker today announced Tulsa Opera’s 74th season, which includes Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi performed at ONEOK Field, a new production of Mr. Picker’s 1996 opera Emmeline, and a new immersive production of Richard Strauss’ Salome. All three operas are Tulsa Opera premieres with Emmeline and Salome Oklahoma premieres.

Mr. McConnell said:
“ONEOK Field enabled us to present our first live, in-person performance since the pandemic began—and one of the first live opera performances in the U.S. We discovered that it is a versatile venue that could connect more people than ever in the community to our art-form. We could not think of a better location for this celebratory evening as we proudly declare that a full Tulsa Opera season is back!”

Mr. Picker said:
“We are proud to present a season of two Oklahoma premieres and three operas new to Tulsa in three new productions that continue this company’s focus on strong female characters and brings together a diverse group of creators and artists—both new and known—for this long-awaited season. We’ve created new productions that celebrate the live opera experience, returning to ONEOK Field and creating an immersive, multi-sensory Salome. It’s exciting to have the first-ever racially diverse cast for Emmeline as Tulsa Opera remains committed to inclusive and innovative casting, further evidenced this season by having a countertenor perform a traditionally mezzo-soprano role in Salome.”

Puccini & Verdi Play Ball

Friday, October 15, 2021 at 7:30pm
ONEOK Field, 201 N Elgin Ave.

Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi designed especially for its stadium setting, with a program also featuring Puccini and Verdi’s best-loved arias, directed by James Robinson.

A festive opening night called “Puccini and Verdi Play Ball at ONEOK Field” includes a new production of Puccini’s one-act comic opera, Gianni Schicchi.

Tulsa native and Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis James Robinson returns to direct after making his company debut in October 2020 with a landmark production of Verdi’s Rigoletto at ONEOK Field. Oriol Sans will conduct a cast that features sopranos Rachel Blaustein, Danielle Pastin, and Emily Pulley, and tenor Julius Ahn.

The evening’s program will also feature a selection of Puccini and Verdi arias performed by the cast, and will conclude with a fireworks display.

Tobias Picker’s Emmeline

Friday, February 25, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, February 27, 2022 at 2:30pm
Tulsa Performing Arts Center

A new production of Tobias Picker’s Emmeline directed by Tara Faircloth.

In February 2022 the company will return to its home venue, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, for the Oklahoma premiere of Tobias Picker’s first opera Emmeline in a new production directed by Tara Faircloth conducted by Francesco Cilluffo. Originally set in mid-19th century Maine with a libretto by J. D. McClatchy, Ms. Faircloth’s production sets the story in the twentieth century.

The cast will be led by soprano Maria Natale as Emmeline and tenor Aaron Crouch as Matthew Gurney in his Tulsa Opera debut. Ms. Natale made her Tulsa Opera debut in 2020 singing Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. Soprano Leona Mitchell, an Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductee who recently performed in Tulsa Opera’s Greenwood Overcomes concert, will sing the role of Aunt Hannah Watkins and baritone Kenneth Overton will make his Tulsa Opera debut in the role of Mr. Maguire. Tenor Sam Briggs, a Tulsa Opera Filstrup Outreach Artist, will sing the role of Hooker.

Based on true events and the novel Emmeline by Judith Rossner, the opera tells the story of Emmeline Mosher, who gives her illegitimate child up for adoption at birth. Twenty years later, when she and her new husband discover a terrible secret, Emmeline is abandoned and shunned by her community but 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 Saint Louis mounted a new production directed by James Robinson. Emmeline has been 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).

Richard Strauss’ Salome

Friday, April 29, 2022 at 7:30pm
Sunday, May 1, 2022 at 2:30pm
Tulsa Performing Arts Center

Richard Strauss’ Salome in a new immersive production by Thaddeus Strassberger starring Patricia Racette in her company debut.

The season concludes in April 2022 with a new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome in its Oklahoma premiere that director Thaddeus Strassberger, making his Tulsa Opera debut, describes as an “anti-Zoom, full sensory experience you can smell and taste.” Mr. Strassberger, who was born and raised in Tulsa and is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, sets the one-act opera during a wantonly decadent birthday party for King Herod.

Members of the audience can choose to be an active part of the production by watching the opera from the stage as dinner party guests, complete with food and drink. At an even more immersive level, VIP guests will be offered an experience involving costuming, imbibing, and top tier luxury seats on stage. There will also be regular seats, allowing audience members to participate in the party atmosphere at their own comfort level.

In addition to directing, Mr. Strassberger will design the sets and costumes. Now London-based, Mr. Strassberger trained at La Scala and has directed over 60 productions in more than 15 countries, including LA Opera, Bard SummerScape, and Washington National Opera in the U.S. A new orchestration was commissioned by Tulsa Opera especially for the production from Nigel Shore to be conducted by Peter Ash.

Soprano Patricia Racette, who premiered the title roles of Mr. Picker’s Emmeline and Dolores Claiborne, and also the role of Roberta Alden in his An American Tragedy, makes her Tulsa Opera debut as the seductive Salome. Ms. Racette made her critically acclaimed debut in the dramatically and vocally demanding role in a 2014 production with Opera San Antonio when Mr. Picker was Artistic Director with that company. She has subsequently performed Salome in a 2016 production at the Metropolitan Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and LA Opera.

The principal cast in Tulsa also includes tenor Anthony Dean Griffey as Herod, mezzo-soprano Katharine Goeldner as Herodias, and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges as Jochanaan. Countertenor Randall Scotting will sing the Page/Slave role that is traditionally performed by a mezzo-soprano. This continues Tulsa Opera’s commitment to inclusive casting following its historic production of Don Giovanni in 2019 that featured transgender baritone Lucia Lucas in the title role. Tenor Noah Stewart and bass Kevin Thompson, who recently performed in Tulsa Opera’s Greenwood Overcomes concert, return to Tulsa in the roles of Narraboth and First Nazarene respectively.

2021-22 Season: Save Your Seat

Season subscriptions start at $145. Subscribe today!

A subscription to our 2021-22 season includes a ticket to Puccini & Verdi Play Ball, Emmeline, and Salome, and can save you up to 30% off the cost of regular tickets. It’s like getting three performances for the price of two!

Become a subscriber or renew your subscription now!