The soprano Susanna Phillips and the bassoonist Matthew McDonald return home to help the HSO celebrate our state’s bicentennial year in grand style. The music of Carl Maria von Weber, a very popular composer at the time Alabama achieved statehood in 1819, figures prominently in the first half of the program. Maestro Gregory Vajda’s intensely personal setting of a poem by W. B. Yeats, Strauss’ penetrating Four Last Songs, and the thrilling overture to Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman bring the orchestra’s sixty-fourth season to a memorable close.
Role: Countess Almaviva
Cincinnati Opera opens its 99th season with Mozart’s masterful cat-and-mouse comedy in a “lavish…dream-like period production (The Independent). Widely considered one of the greatest comic operas ever written, The Marriage of Figaro overflows with music that is simply sublime.
Vocal sparks will fly as internationally renowned sopranos Susanna Phillips and Jane Archibald sing music written for the great dueling divas of the Baroque and Classical eras. The rivalries between Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni in Handel’s day, and Caterina Cavalieri and Aloysia Lange in Mozart’s, come to life in a fascinating program of virtuosic arias and duets.
Its unprecedented grandeur of sound and emotional intensity lifts Beethoven’s Missa solemnis beyond the confines of the liturgy for which it was written. Resembling a five-movement symphony with voices, it casts a dramatic spell in its opening measures, uplifts with the thrilling Gloria, ascends to the sublime with the ethereal violin solo in the Benedictus, and embraces both the almighty and humanity in the culminating prayer for peace.
Role: Kát’a Kabanová
Janáček’s gripping domestic drama makes a rare appearance on the Met stage, its first since 2005. The soaring soprano Susanna Phillips sings the title role, a young woman forced by fate to choose between true love and family honor, with beloved mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick as her unyielding mother-in-law. Tenor Pavel Černoch is the young object of Káťa’s love, and legendary bass Sir John Tomlinson is his rich but cruel uncle. Lothar Koenigs conducts one of the defining operatic scores of the 20th century.