Catone in Utica
Thomas Michael Allen, Catone
John Holiday, Cesare
Anna Reinhold, Marzia
Julia Dawson, Emilia
Eric Jurenas, Fulvio
Marguerite Krull, Arbace
Ryan Brown, Conductor
Tazewell Thompson, Director
Amith Chandrashaker, Lighting
Sara Jean Tosetti, Costume Consultant
The season began with Catone in Utica, based on the Glimmerglass Festival summer production conducted by Opera Lafayette's very own, Ryan Brown. A semi-staged production of this operatic drama and a baroque masterpiece, Catone in Utica was Opera Lafayette's first foray into the works of Vivaldi. Directed by Emmy-nominated and NAACP Theatre Award winning Tazewell Thompson, Opera Lafayette's performance delved into one of the greatest stories of ancient Rome.
The New York Times reported that "...the orchestra responded eagerly to Mr. Brown's knowing lead" and "...the stellar cast carried the day." (Read the full review.) The Washington Post spoke fondly of Ryan Brown's conducting and artistic direction, saying: "Brown is not a conductor who imposes himself on the music. He simply is the music, and his musicians follow him with a unanimity that is a joy to watch." (Read the full review.)
Catone in Utica also launched Opera Lafayette's new teaching residencies with Rutgers and Georgetown Universities. Opera Lafayette hosted seminars about the production and the context that surrounds it, held workshops with artists-in-residence, and performed Leonardo Vinci's setting of Catone in Utica with the Rutgers Baroque Players.
Ryan Brown, Conductor
Claire Debono, Madame Riss
Pascale Beaudin, Madame le Président
Blandine Staskiewicz, Madame Lek
Jeffrey Thompson, Monsieur Riss
Antonio Figueroa, Monsieur le Président
Alex Dobson, Monsieur Lek
The Opera Lafayette Orchestra
In the fall, Opera Lafayette released its 11th recording on the Naxos Label: Les Femmes Vengées. Based on Mozart's Così fan tutte, Les Femmes Vengées is an opéra-comique in one act, which Opera Lafayette performed in both Washington and New York, as well as abroad in Versailles.
Welcoming Our General Manager
In December, Opera Lafayette was pleased to appoint William J. H. Chapman as General Manager. Mr. Chapman came to Opera Lafayette with an extensive resume spanning more than two decades, with particular expertise in the fields of opera and classical music.
Une Éducation Manquée
Amel Brahim-Djelloul, Gontran
Sophie Junker, Hélène
Dominique Coté, Pausanias
Jeffery Watson, Piano
Bernard Deletré, Director
Patricia Forelle, Costumes
The season continued with Chabrier's Une Éducation Manquée, a charming 19th-century opera that was filled with humor and brought us back to the carefree days of adolescent love. It highlighted the return of Bernard Deletré, director of Opera Lafayette's 2013 production of Lalla Roukh, and included costumes by Bessie-nominated designer Patricia Forelle.
The Washington Post remarked on the delight of the performance, describing the production as "...light and fleeting and swirling with color as a soap bubble." (Read the full review.)
New York Special Event
In February immediately following Friday night's performance of Chabrier's Une Éducation Manquée, Opera Lafayette hosted its annual New York benefit dinner: A Candlelight Dinner at the Colony Club. Over 100 guests enjoyed great conversation, food, and music. Soprano Sophie Junker and pianist Jeffrey Watson performed song selections by Chabrier, Poulenc, and Satie.
A warm thanks to our New York Benefit Chair, Janet Desforges, and the entire Benefit Committee for leading such a remarkable occasion.
DC Special Event
DC presented its Annual Benefit Dinner on April 19th at the Cosmos Club. Une Fête du Printemps was a celebration of spring and Opera Lafayette's 21st season. Sophie Junker and Jeffrey Watson reprised their NY benefit performance at Une Fête du Printemps.
The evening culminated with a raffle of terrific prizes, including two framed original watercolors by Arnaud Faugas, a curated portfolio of photographs from Une Éducation Manquée and watercolors by costume designer Patricia Forelle, and a silk scarf designed by Alix Sundquist.
A special thanks to our Benefit Chair, JoAnn Willis, and Benefit Committee for putting together an enjoyable and memorable evening.
Opera and the French REvolution
Nathalie Paulin, Sapho/Médée/Antigone
Antonio Figueroa, Phaon/Jason
Javier Arrey, Œdipe/Stésichore
Sophie Junker, Cléis/Néris
The Opera Lafayette Orchestra and Chorus
Ryan Brown, Conductor
Miřenka Čechová, Director
Martin Špetlík, Lighting Design
Petr Bohac, Set Design
Judith Hansen, Costume Designer
The 2015-2016 season concluded with Opera and the French Revolution, where Opera Lafayette explored operas that held the stage in the 1790s and reflected the tumultuous emotions occurring during the time of the French Revolution. This fully-staged program, directed by Miřenka Čechová, set three dramatic scenes from Martini's Sapho, Cherubini's Médée, and Sacchini's Œdipe à Colone.
During this production, Opera Lafayette also launched its blog: Theories and Thoughts on Opera Lafayette's Productions from Artists and Scholars. Blog posts discuss how the French Revolution influenced Sapho's librettist, a directorial motto, and the artistic aesthetic's during the French Revolution.
New York Theater Guide wrote that "Opera and the French Revolution has all the perfect ingredients for an evening of absorbing story telling [...] The three scenes were expertly joined together thematically through the choice of clever contemporary design and inventive direction choices." (Read the full review.)
In conjunction with this production, Opera Lafayette hosted a series of audience engagement events to connect the DC and NY communities in conversation about the arts in times of turmoil and rage. In DC, Ryan Brown and playwright and Teaching Artist Tom Minter hosted talks at DC Public Library and The Levine School of Music, with short performances by soprano Raquel Gonzalez and pianist Kathy Detweiler. In NY, Opera Lafayette joined with Miřenka Čechová (Director of Opera and the French Revolution), Julia Doe (Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University), and Judith Miller (Associate Professor of History at Emory University) to discuss theater during the French Revolution.
Opera Lafayette is grateful to David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn for their generosity as Lead Sponsor of Opera and the French Revolution.
Building Future Arts Audiences
In striving to make opera relatable to patrons of all ages and inspire a love of early operatic repertoire, Opera Lafayette continued its strong partnership with Stanford in Washington (SIW), led by Adrienne Jamieson, member of Opera Lafayette's Board of Directors. This year, the partnership found artists from both Une Éducation Manquée and Opera and the French Revolution at SIW talking with students about the historical context surrounding each of the operas, before the more than 25 students attended each of these productions.
SIW graciously hosted two post-performance receptions during the season, where students were able to meet with singers, orchestra members, production staff, and many OL loyal patrons, all in an effort to build future leaders that show an appreciation for the arts in our community and work to grow a love for opera and early music.
The 2015-2016 season took Opera Lafayette in new directions, delving into a wide array of rich operatic repertoire. As we move forward into next season, we hope you will join us on our journey of exploration through early works of historical and contextual importance.
Thank you for celebrating Opera Lafayette's 21st season with us. We look forward to seeing you into the 2016-2017 season!