Kara Shay Thomson and Jonathan Burton in Kentucky Opera’s production of TOSCA.

Kentucky Opera is so excited to announce the return of two of our all-time favorite performers to the Brown-Forman 2014/15 season. You will remember them from our 2012/13 season in which they played Tosca and Cavaradossi in our production of TOSCA. Please join us in welcoming back Kara Shay Thomson, soprano, and Jonathan Burton, tenor.

Not only are these two singer-actors tremendously talented, they also possess knowledge that would put some scholars to shame. We recently sat down with them as they prepare for their roles in our upcoming production of FIDELIO to discuss the opera, their relationship, and of course, Louisville!

Kara Shay has been seen in her signature role of Tosca all over the country, but is excited to take on the new challenge of Leonore in FIDELIO. “Singing Leonore has been on my bucket list for a very long time, and I am so glad that I will be making the role debut with Kentucky Opera. In addition to the fantastic aria that highlights Leonore’s emotional journey, I’m excited to sing so many numbers that will include all of my fabulous colleagues on the stage and in the pit. Finally, I’ll be in disguise for most of the show which means that I will have my first opportunity to cross dress for a living!!”

Kara Shay Thomson

Kara Shay Thomson will play Leonore in Kentucky Opera’s upcoming production of FIDELIO

As you can tell, Kara Shay has an infectious sense of humor and it is that humor that makes working on a production with her a true joy. “She’s a living legend as far as I’m concerned,” says Jonathan. “She and I have performed together many times and are great friends. I’ll never tire of it.”

Jonathan is currently preparing for his role as Florestan in FIDELIO. “This role acts as a gateway into the larger German repertory, and I’m beyond excited to be dipping my toe in that pool,” says Jonathan. “So far, the water is quite comfortable.”

While on the subject of the German repertory, we talked a little more about the role of Beethoven in opera and the place FIDELIO holds in the repertoire. “FIDELIO is easily one of the most glorious musical scores in the world. This is a score music lovers owe it to themselves to hear.” 

Kara Shay agrees, “This music is exhilarating, and each time I play one of my favorite recordings of this work, I am so excited that I get a chance to be a part of Beethoven’s sole foray into opera.” She continues, “The voices, the orchestra, and the libretto are all so alive, and I hope those who love LA BOHÉME, TOSCA, and FAUST will throw themselves into this production and become as enthralled with it as I have.”

Jonathan Burton will sing the role of Florestan in Beethoven's only opera, FIDELIO, this fall.

Jonathan Burton will sing the role of Florestan in Beethoven’s only opera, FIDELIO, this fall.

“Well, it’s written by Beethoven,” Jonathan says of FIDELIO, “so it is crushingly beautiful with plenty of solo vocal fireworks and truly spellbinding ensembles.”

So what are these two friends and opera impresarios looking forward to most about returning to Louisville? They both agree: the bourbon! “I grew up in a family of horsemen and am a devout bourbon lover,” says Jonathan. “What better place could there be?!”

“Working in Louisville has so many advantages,” says Kara Shay. “It’s only 90 minutes from my home, so I get to see my family and friends while I am working. Louisville is such a great city to explore with all of its wonderful ‘foodie’ hangouts and, of course, the bourbon. Ah, the bourbon…”

The bourbon isn’t the only thing that will be flowing when Kara Shay Thomson and Jonathan Burton resume the Kentucky Opera stage together in our 2014/15 season premiere, FIDELIO. Guarantee your seats with a season subscription before tickets go on sale August 11!