â€‹OperaDelaware returns to Wilmington’s Grand Opera House for its 2018 Festival April 28–May 6, a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Puccini’s Il Trittico. Seven acts of opera will be offered across two weekends, including all three acts of Il Trittico (“The Triptych”) and Michael Ching’s “Buoso’s Ghost,” fully staged at the Grand Opera House, plus casual concerts at the OperaDelaware Studios featuring popular Puccini works.
The first two acts of Il Trittico—the tragedies Il Tabarro (“The Cloak”) and Suor Angelica (“Sister Angelica”)—will be presented together in an emotional double-bill spotlighting some of Puccini’s most stunning vocal writing. Il Tabarro is a story of love, adultery and murder set on the banks of the Seine. It stars celebrated soprano Eleni Calenos as Giorgetta, Wilmington’s own Grant Youngblood (baritone) as Michele and tenor Matthew Vickers (Amleto, 2016) as Luigi. Calenos will also take on the title role in Suor Angelica, the tragic opera about a young woman confined to a convent for having a child out of wedlock. Mezzo-soprano Alissa Anderson will sing the role of La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, as well as Frugola in Il Tabarro.
The production is directed by Crystal Manich and conducted by OperaDelaware music director Anthony Barrese. The final opera of the trilogy, the uproarious comedy Gianni Schicchi, will be paired with “Buoso’s Ghost,” a contemporary Schicchi “sequel” by composer Michael Ching.
Many opera fans are familiar with Schicchi, Puccini’s beloved comedy about a family fighting over a wealthy relative’s estate, but what happens next? “Buoso’s Ghost” continues the fun by following the Donati family as they seek revenge on Gianni Schicchi for tricking them out of their inheritance. The double bill stars baritone Sean Anderson (La Cenerentola, 2017, “Falstaff,” 2016) as Gianni Schicchi and tenor Kirk Dougherty as Rinuccio. Rising star and Main Line native Sara Duchovnay (soprano) makes her OperaDelaware debut as Lauretta. Plus, in an inventive bit of stunt casting, New Castle County Register of Wills, Ciro Poppiti, will take on the role of Buoso Donati, the deceased uncle at the center of the inheritance drama in Gianni Schicchi and “Buoso’s Ghost.” A. Scott Parry (La Cenerentola, 2017) returns to direct this hilarious double bill, and “Buoso’s Ghost” composer Michael Ching will conduct. All four acts are set in the year 1918 as an homage to the anniversary of Il Trittico’s premiere, with sets designed by Stephen Dobay, lighting by Tláloc López-Watermann, and costume design by Howard Tsvi Kaplan, supplied by Malabar Limited.
“We are beyond excited to present these thrilling and accessible masterpieces. There truly is something for everyone in these four operas, which feature some of Puccini’s most famous melodies and the full range of human emotion,” says OperaDelaware general director Brendan Cooke. “A long-time opera lover will delight in the intimacy of the Grand Opera House and our extraordinary artistic teams. And those new to opera will find much to love about these timeless stories.”
Back by popular demand, OperaDelaware will offer informative pre-performance lectures by festival directors and conductors, allowing patrons to learn more about Puccini and the history of the productions before the curtains rise. These free 30-minute lectures will take place on the lower level of The Grand Opera House, one hour before curtain. Seating is limited, so patrons are encouraged to arrive early.
In addition to the fully staged productions at the Grand Opera House, OperaDelaware will also offer A Flight of Puccini in concert at the company’s Riverfront Studios on May 3–4. The final installment of this season’s popular Opera Uncorked with Swigg concert series, A Flight of Puccini will feature members of both festival casts, plus fan favorites Timothy Mix and Victoria Cannizzo performing Act I of La Bohème, Act II of Tosca, and Act III of Madama Butterfly. Each act will be paired with a special wine tasting selected by Swigg – Fine Wine and Craft Spirits to complement the arias.
Plus, the new Stitch House Brewery is creating a custom brew—High Note Abbey Dubbel—to commemorate the festival. “Stitch House is a fantastic addition to Market Street, and we’re delighted to collaborate with them,” says Cooke. “And considering that one of our festival operas, Suor Angelica, is set in an Italian convent, I love that [head brewer Andrew Rutherford] picked an ale historically brewed by monks. I can’t think of a better way for patrons to toast our Festival than with custom brew celebrating Maestro Puccini.”
For the full schedule of events, tickets and more, visit www.operade.org or call 442-7807.