Well known among opera fans as a summertime arts experience, Cincinnati Opera steps into winter with its first-ever, all-digital Winter Festival. Three, free, streaming programs premiere in February and March, spotlighting singers, actors, and instrumentalists in an eclectic variety of artistic genres.
“While we’ve eagerly anticipated the opportunity to return to live performance, we knew we couldn’t wait until summer to share opera again with our community,” said Evans Mirageas, Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director. “We reached out to some of our favorite artists and partners and invited them to collaborate. What emerged are three exceptional programs that highlight the many ways opera can surprise, delight, and inspire.”
Cincinnati Opera’s Winter Festival
Premiering Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m.
“Opera…from a Sistah’s Point of View“
Opera for everyone. International opera star Angela Brown adapts her popular show using humor, storytelling and song to dispel common opera myths. With her signature wit and effervescent personality, Brown demystifies classic opera plot lines and celebrates the diversity of opera’s characters, while tracing the beauty of its music through the stories and voices of Black singers. Performing a mix of arias, poignant art songs and spirituals, Brown is joined for this program by mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter, tenor Jamez McCorkle, soprano Victoria Okafor, and baritone Reginald Smith, Jr., with Marie-France Lefebvre as pianist. This program is presented in partnership with Opera Birmingham.
Premiering Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Portrait of an artist. Following the triumphant reception of “Aida,” Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi retired to his country estate at the height of his fame and popularity. Yet his wife and friends remained convinced Verdi should write another new work and spent the next decade coaxing him into partnership with a talented young librettist. The result: the composer’s late-career masterpiece “Otello,” now considered one of the great Shakespearean-based operas. Inspired by this true story, Julian Mitchell’s play is presented in collaboration with Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati in a reading featuring several popular Cincinnati actors, led by Bruce Cromer as Verdi, and directed by D. Lynn Meyers of ETC. The production integrates musical excerpts, providing a compelling peek behind opera’s curtain and a humanizing portrait of one of its great artists.
Premiering March 5, 7:30 p.m.
Songs from afar. Music allows us to travel the world without leaving the comfort of our homes. This virtual concert combines the talents of Grammy-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne (Cincinnati Opera’s “Porgy and Bess,” 2019), emerging conductor William R. Langley, and chamber ensemble concert:nova to create a musical travelogue. Highlights include Debussy’s groundbreaking “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” three Debussy songs featuring Trevigne as vocalist with Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra music director Louis Langrée as pianist, and the Cincinnati premiere of a small ensemble orchestration of Ravel’s exotic song cycle “Shéhérazade.” Presented in partnership with IATSE Local 5, the Cincinnati stage union.
All programs free (with registration) and available on-demand through March 21.