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Hope from the Nashville Opera

Can You Imagine a Beach-Party Themed Cinderella Next June? Nashville Opera can!

In the most wonderful sense of optimism and a little more than a decent dose of stubbornness, Nashville Opera has released their schedule for next season, a celebration of their 40th anniversary and it looks to be a doozy!

One Vote One

The season opens on September 25-27 with a commission, N.O.’s first, in a performance of the election day drama One Vote One with music composed by Tennessee native

Dave Ragland

David Ragland and the libretto by Mary McCallum. Originally hailing from Chattanooga, Ragland has been on the Nashville scene for some time now, I first heard his music in his beautiful arrangement of spirituals at the Upon these Shoulders celebration at Fisk University in 2017, and he made his directorial debut with the Nashville Opera during the 2013-14 season in their production of David Lang’s “The Difficulty of Crossing a Field.” His Steal Away was originally scheduled with Oz Arts in April, but had to be cancelled because of COVID19. McCallum, who has written for stage and screen including Singleville (2018) and the fictional historical play Six Triple Eight (2015), is a wise choice for the libretto.

These two artists will be able to share their talents for historical depiction in One Vote One with a plot that includes suffragist Frankie Pierce (played by Jennifer Whitcomb-Oliva) and Civil Rights activist Diane Nash (played by Brooke Leigh Davis) as they work to convince a young Gloria (played by Tamica Nicole Harris) that her vote counts.. Never an organization to shy away from a political topic, Director John Hoomes and company are working with the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation to create a study guide that meets Tennessee standards for U.S. history.

Opera Jukebox

In October, the company will present the newest in pandemic operatic genres, the “Opera Jukebox.” Not much to say here except that money talks and I hope the rich folks seek to hear something other than the same old chestnuts like “Nessun Dorma,”  “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle'” or the flower duet.

Rigoletto

Then in April, if one can imagine the end of the pandemic, the return of our economy, and a post-election 2020 world, the company has scheduled a new staging of

Lewek and Borichevsky

Verdi’s Rigoletto in a film noir style. Likely to be the highlight of the artistic season in Music City (ok, so maybe there wont be much competition) the staging will include its own original film noir by Penumbra Entertainment, winner of the Nashville Opera Noir Filmfest. However, the cast is quite exciting too; as Nashville Opera describes the production: “The wise-cracking Rigoletto (Michael Mayes), despised by all save his beautiful daughter (soprano Kathryn Lewek in her first appearance as Gilda), is powerless to protect her from the lechery of his boss, Duke (Zach Borichevsky also making his role debut).” Notably, the production was initially planned for last season but the world stopped. From Lewek’s facebook of March 16th, 2020:

My husband Zach Borichevsky, tenor and I are disappointed about the cancellation of Nashville Opera’s production of Rigoletto in which we were to make our role debuts as Duke and Gilda, respectively. However, we are so grateful to the company, as they are paying us a portion of our contract. It’s amazing to see regional companies like Nashville, led by John Hoomes, set the example for other companies. We have just donated a part of our earnings to the AGMA (American Guild of Musical Artists) artist relief fund. I hope all who have the means to make a small or large donation will consider…”

Some people take catastrophes as an opportunity to build good karma, and I for one, cannot wait to see this production, and not simply because everyone involved is an amazing person.

Cinderella

Emily Fons
The late running season will end at the start of summer, on June 11-12, with a beach party-inspired performance of Gioacchino Rossini’s bubbly Cinderella. In a season with so much local attention, this production includes the Nashville Opera debut of no less that six singers, including world-class mezzo Emily Fons and the international phenomenon, tenor Matthew Grills. The company insists that we keep an eye out for ” a special cameo by Bruce the Shark,” think they’ll jump it?  By next June I hope Hoomes and company’s courageous planning pays out and we all can have a little well-deserved fun again.
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