Tulsa Opera to Present Historic Production of Picker’s ‘Emmeline’

By David Salazar

Tulsa Opera is set to present a new production of Tobias Picker’s “Emmeline” this February.

The production, which kicks off on Feb. 25 and 27, 2022, will feature a star-studded cast led by soprano Maria Natale, baritone Kenneth Overton, tenor Aaron Crouch, and soprano Leona Mitchell. Other cast members include Nathan Stark, Jennifer Roderer, Andrew Potter, and Sam Briggs. Francesco Cilluffo conducts a production directed by Tara Faircloth.

This will be the first time that an opera by Picker is presented at Tulsa Opera, where he has been Artistic Director since 2016. This will also be the first time that Black singers take on the principal roles of Matthew Gurney, Mr. Maguire, and Aunt Hannah in this opera.

“There is something poignant and meaningful to me about Emmeline—the first of my seven operas—being the first of my operas to be staged at my artistic home in Tulsa, especially after the pandemic delay,” Picker said in an official press statement. “In my nearly six years as Artistic Director of Tulsa Opera, it has been gratifying to program and present some 15 productions that have made an impact, not only locally, but nationally and internationally, such as our landmark production of Don Giovanni, our foray into new territory taking opera to the baseball stadium in 2020 and 2021, and our historic Greenwood Overcomes concert in observance of the centenary of the Tulsa Race Massacre with a remarkable concert of works by 23 living Black composers performed by eight leading Black singers. It is exciting and humbling to present one of my own operas with one of the oldest and most distinguished opera companies in America that I think of as ‘the jewel of the Plains.’”

“Emmeline” premiered at the Santa Fe Opera in 1996.