Briana Hunter, Jorge Parodi & Michael Kelly Lead Opera Orlando’s 2020-21 Season

By Logan Martell

Opera Orlando has announced the 2020-21 season, working closely with the Dr. Phillips Center and other venues to ensure safety protocols for the company’s live performances.

“In addition to getting input from fellow opera and theater companies who have started to re-open, we are incorporating CDC recommendations, local official guidance, and input from our Company partner Orlando Health in preparing to launch our 2020-21 season in December,” states executive director Gabriel Preisser. “We have taken the time to ensure we have best practices in place as we get back to producing opera and celebrating our fifth anniversary season with five new productions and workshops for the company’s first commissioned work.”

The season will open with J. Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus” conducted by Jorge Parodi. Abigail Rethwisch will make her company debut as Rosalinda, with Gabriel Preisser as Eisenstein, Ben Gulley as Alfred, Cree Carrico as Adele, and husband and wife duo Sarah Nordin and Tyler Putnam will play Prince Orlofsky and Police Warden Frank, respectively.

Performance Dates: Dec. 17, 19, 2020

On-Demand Broadcast Dates: Dec. 31, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021

Humperdink’s “Hansel & Gretel” is set to be conducted by company education director Robin Jensen. The cast includes Kyaunnee Richardson as Gretel, Gloria Palermo as Hansel, Robyn Rocklein as the witch, with the parents played by husband and wife duo Torlef Borsting and Cass Panuska.

Performance Dates: Jan. 29-31, 2021

On-Demand Broadcast Dates: Feb. 12 – 28, 2021.

John Young and Alan Olejniczak’s “Death of Ivan Ilych” will make its world premiere. The work is based on Tolstoy’s novella of the same name, and will be held at the Orlando Museum of Art Grand Gallery Hall, with musicians from Alterity Chamber Orchestra.

Performance Dates: Feb. 19 & 21, 2021.

Bizet’s “Carmen” will be directed by Sara E. Widzer and conducted by Kelly Kuo. The production will Briana Hunter in the title role, Noah Stewart as Don Jose, Brittany Renee Robinson as Micaela, Gregg Baker as Zuniga, and Norman Garrett making his company debut as Escamillo.

Performance Dates: April 1 & 3, 2021

On-Demand Broadcast Dates: April 16 – May 2, 2021.

Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campell, and Kimberly Reed’s “As One” will be directed by Jessica Hanna. This production will feature a string quartet led by transgender conductor Alexandra Enyart while the shared role of Hannah will be sung by baritone Michael Kelly and mezzo Elise Quagliata, both making their company debuts.

Performance Dates: May 21, 23, 2021.

The season will also include a piano and orchestra Workshop of “The Secret River.” Audiences can get an inside look into how an opera comes together with Opera Orlando’s first commissioned work. Based on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, this one-act chamber opera, with a libretto by Mark Campbell and music by Stella Sung, was recently awarded funding from the OPERA America’s Opera Grant for Female Composers program, and supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Piano Workshop: Jan. 17, 2021

Orchestra Workshop: May 2, 2021.