Hidden Gems

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Last December, I had the honor of work-shopping Jennifer Higdon’s brand new opera COLD MOUNTAIN which will premiere at The Santa Fe Opera in the summer of 2016. The following month in Boston, I conducted Claudio Monteverdi’s LA CORONAZIONE DI POPPEA (The Coronation of Poppea) which is one of the first operas ever composed. It was humbling to work one of the oldest operas in the repertoire as well as one of the newest operas in the span of only a few months. But you know what?  There is a lot of opera between 1643 and 2014!

DON GIOVANNI, Kentucky Opera 2013. Photo by Patrick L. Pfister.

DON GIOVANNI, Kentucky Opera 2013. Photo by Patrick L. Pfister.

Kentucky Opera is embarking on an artistic journey of repertoire re-imagined…of expecting the unexpected. What does this mean? When we go to The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Gallery, The Speed or The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, we gravitate to the familiar. There are gaggles of patrons viewing the Seurat in Chicago, the Van Gogh in DC, the Chagall in Louisville and the Sargent in Boston. But when we wander through the galleries we all find hidden gems by masters both known and unknown. These are pieces that might not make the audio tour but are special nonetheless. It is Kentucky Opera’s new vision to explore the hidden gems in the operatic repertoire and re-imagine existing masterpieces.

We have already had success with this exciting artistic vision. Our DON GIOVANNI from the 2012/13 season had a film noir look to it. The story was not altered and the music was not touched. It was the accessible concept, guided by our wonderful stage director Kristine McIntyre that transformed the piece.  And, if I can say so myself, it was a huge success.  Our Don Giovanni was an unexpected look at a masterpiece. When we celebrated Giuseppe Verdi’s 200th birthday last season, we did not bring to the stage of The Brown Theater the inevitable masterworks LA TRAVIATA, IL TROVATORE, or RIGOLETTO. Kentucky Opera introduced to many in our opera family a rarely produced Verdi, SIMON BOCCANEGRA. For many in the audience it was an unexpected new gem.

SIMON BOCCANEGRA, Kentucky Opera 2014, Photo by Patrick L. Pfister

SIMON BOCCANEGRA, Kentucky Opera 2014, Photo by Patrick L. Pfister

Next season we bring you Beethoven’s FIDELIO, Puccini’s LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (The Girl of the Golden West) and Previn’s A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE; exciting and engaging repertoire that continue Kentucky Opera’s fine tradition of storytelling.

April 29, 2014
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(if you are familiar with Philadelphia, I live by the art museum)