Tamara Wilson, Limmie Pulliam, Eric Owens, Kelle O’Connor Headline Cleveland Orchestra’s Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: ‘The American Dream’

By David Salazar

The Cleveland Orchestra has announced the first ever Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: “The American Dream.”

“With this season’s inaugural Mandel Opera & Humanities Festival: ‘The American Dream’ and future annual festivals, The Cleveland Orchestra is creating space and a forum at Severance Music Center and within the greater Cleveland community to explore broader topics through music and art. We hope to spark and inspire relevant conversations and reflections as a convener, and partner with area humanities and cultural organizations to promote great Cleveland institutions as well as Cleveland as a cultural destination. We are grateful to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation for their historic grant, of which a portion is dedicated to supporting The Cleveland Orchestra’s annual opera and humanities festival,” said André Gremillet, The Cleveland Orchestra’s President & CEO, in an official press statement.

The Festival will open with “United in Song! A Free Community Celebration,” which will feature a free day of choral music performances with ensembles throughout the Cleveland community. The performance will feature the Humbly Submitted Gospel Chorus, Any Andino and Voces Hispanas, Tri-C Vocal Arts Academy, Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus, and Jimmy Olulami and Choir Africa.

Performance Date: May 13, 2023

That will be followed up by performances of “La Fanciulla del West” at Severance Music Center and Mandel Concert Hall. Franz Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra and a cast starring Tamara Wilson, Limmie Pulliam, and Eric Owens, among many others.

This is the Cleveland Orchestra premiere of the Puccini opera which Welser-Möst said, “brings to a boil conflicting desires for fortune and friendship. Its characters give their all in a rough-and-tumble scramble for money, love, and loyalty — heightened by a passionate music score that boldly underscores dreams of riches, hope, desperation, and desire. This opera and our annual opera presentations showcase The Cleveland Orchestra’s remarkable versatility and artistic ambition as a symphonic and opera ensemble.”

Performance Date: May 14-20, 2023

Audiences will also see a two-part conduct “Dreams We’ve Dreamed; Songs We’ve Sung; Hopes We’ve Had.” Part 1 will feature music by Joplin, Perry, Eastman, Grant Still, and Bernard Hermann while the second part will feature mezzo-soprano Kelle O’Connor and music by Chacon, Adès, and Varese. Welser-Möst conducts The Cleveland Orchestra in both showcases.

Performance Date: May 18 & 19, 2023

The festival will partner with such organizations as Case Western Reserve University, Chautauqua Institution, Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Public Library, City Club of Cleveland, and Karamu House.