Stephanie Blythe, Patricia Racette & Anthony Roth Costanzo Headline Opera Philadelphia’s 2018-19 Season

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Philadelphia has announced its 2018-19 season.

The season will see the company continue to shape the future of opera. The 2018-2019 season will kick off on September 20-30 with the festival’s second edition, O18, comprising five operatic happenings – two world premieres, two new productions, and a three-part cabaret event – at multiple venues across the city. The season will then continue in spring 2019 with a pair of repertory favorites in the historic Academy of Music as well as two co-presentations with Curtis Opera Theatre and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts at the intimate Perelman Theater

Here is a look.


The season opens with a new production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” by Laurent Pelly returning for the first time in more than two decades. The production will be a co-production with the Wiener Staatsoper. Coloratura soprano Brenda Rae takes on the title role alongside tenor Michael Spyres in his Opera Philadelphia debut. Christian Van Horn and Troy Cook round the cast conducted by Corrado Rovaris.

Performance Dates: Sept. 21-30, 2018/Academy of Music

Following his success “I Have No Stories to Tell You” by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, the team returns for the world premiere of “Sky on Swings,” a chamber opera that reflects on the impermanence of memory and the onset of a new hallucinatory reality untethered from identity and history. Legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade portrays Danny, the leading character alongside Marietta Simpson, Daniel Taylor, and Sharleen Joynt. Geoffrey McDonald conducts the new production by Joanna Settle.

Performance Dates: Sept. 20-29, 2018/Perelman Theatre

Anthony Roth Costanzo returns to Opera Philadelphia for an immersive operatic installation with the New York-based luxury art and fashion multimedia company Visionaire. The star countertenor will pair the music of Handel and Philip Glass for a “Glass Handel” showcase. Costanzo will collaborate with stars from the worlds of art, fashion, dance, and film. The installation is set for New York premieres as well.

Performance Dates: Sept. 22-30, 2018/The Barnes Foundation 

Ne Quittez Pas (Hold the Line)” from director James Darrah (“Breaking the Waves”) will offer an expanded context for Poulenc’s “La voix humaine,” setting the one-woman opera in the cabaret setting of Philadelphia’s Theatre of Living Arts (TLA). Because traditional productions of “La voix humaine” leave audiences wondering just who is on the other end of the line, the prelude that opens this production will answer that question, when baritone Edward Nelson performs a collection of French art and cabaret songs. Then soprano Patricia Racette will perform the role of Elle in Poulenc’s one-act opera.

Performance Dates: September 22-30, 2018/Theatre of Living Arts

The TLA will also be the site of a three-night, three-part cabaret takeover titled “Queens of the Night” starring renowned mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe aka Blythely Oratonio and the “drag queen king” Dito van Reigersberg aka Martha Graham Cracker. Philadelphia’s cabaret stars, opera singers, and special surprise guests strut their stuff as Blythely and Martha preside over the pomp and pageantry.

Sept. 24, 2018: Cabaret Night hosted by Blythely Oratonio
Sept. 25, 2018: Cabaret Night hosted by Martha Graham Cracker
Sept. 28, 2018: Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night

Spring 2019

The spring season begins with the U.S. production premiere of Robert Carsen’s classic staging of Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  The opera is set to star Tim Mead, Anna Christy, Miltos Yerolemou, Georgia Jarman, Matthew Rose, and Miles Mykkanen. Corrado Rovaris conducts the production.

Performance Dates: Feb. 8-17, 2019/Academy of Music

Opera Philadelphia, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts team up for Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” 

Performance Dates: March 7-10, 2019/Perelman Theater

“La Bohème” returns to Opera Philadelphia in a production from the Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofía” featuring Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The opera stars Vanessa Vasquez in the title role with Evan LeRoy
Johnson as Rodolfo, Troy Cook, and Kevin Burdette. Corrado Rovaris conducts.

Performance Dates: April 26-May 5, 2019/Academy of Music

Composer Rene Orth and librettist Mark Campbell team up for “Empty the House.” The Chamber Opera, which received its world premiere at the Curtis Institute in January 2016 returns in collaboration with the Curtis Opera.

Performance Dates: May 2-5, 2019/Perelman Theater