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Rarely performed, Weber’s The Magic Marksman (Der Freischütz) is an important Virginia Opera premiere

Richmond, Norfolk, Fairfax, VA (December 12, 2016) Virginia Opera presents its third production of the 2016-2017 Season with The Magic Marksman (Der Freischütz) by Carl Maria von Weber in Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax from January 27, 2017 through February 19, 2017. 

Performance schedules and venue locations are listed below. 

Why certain operas are standard fare in German and Austrian opera houses, yet languish in America is a mystery.  Such is the case with The Magic Marksman. The last performance at the Metropolitan Opera was 45 years ago, yet this work is widely considered one of the major German operatic masterpieces and launched in the early 19th century the future development and identity of German opera.The piece inspired and influenced a young Richard Wagner and provided one of the most famous sopranos of all time, Jenny Lind, her operatic debut in the role of Agathe.  Virginia Opera will be offering audiences across the Commonwealth the opportunity to appreciate this rarely seen gem and luxuriate in the lush score and romantic supernatural story. 

Virginia Opera continues to strive to eliminate barriers and connect audiences through relevant artistic choices with The Magic Marksman. The piece is traditionally set in a Bohemian forest in the mid-seventeenth century.  Virginia Opera’s production moves the timeframe forward 100 years and places the characters in a rural southern American village of German immigrants.  The opera will be performed in English with English supertitles for heightened clarity.

                                Corey Bix                   Kara Shay Thomson small             

Returning to Virginia Opera stages, tenor Corey Bix (The Flying Dutchman 2016) sings the role of Max the young forester who vies for the hand of Agathe, sung by soprano, Kara Shay Thomson. Mr. Bix performs with Chicago Lyric Opera in Les Troyens and The Metropolitan Opera in Der fliegende Holländer later this season.  Ms. Thomson also joins the Chicago Lyric Opera cast in Les Troyens.  She debuted recently in the title role of Tosca with Atlanta Opera, Florida Grand Opera, and Portland Opera.

Internationally acclaimed Stage Director, Stephen Lawless (Falstaff 2013, Salome 2015) returns to direct this new production.  Mr. Lawless is famed for his début with the Kirov Opera in Leningrad producing Boris Godunov as the first live opera telecast from the Soviet Union to the U.K.  He has directed throughout the world including The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Vienna State Opera; The Metropolitan Opera and the Hong Kong and New Zealand Festivals.

Virginia Opera President and CEO Russell P. Allen stated, “Virginia Opera is indeed fortunate to be able to engage stage directors, artists and design teams of international standing.  Bringing this classic staple of the German repertory to life for the audiences of the Commonwealth with artists of this standing is part of Virginia Opera’s mission.”

Virginia Opera’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Adam Turner will lead the Virginia Symphony in this significant premiere.  The design team for the production is: Scenic Designer, Benoit Dugardyn; Costume Designer, Sue Willmington; Lighting Designer, Pat Collins; Projections Designer, Driscoll Otto.

From the perspective of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Adam Turner, the mounting of this rarely seen opera presents an incredible opportunity for our audiences. “The Magic Marksman is an unparalleled masterpiece of the German-language repertoire, representing an operatic landmark that inspired later achievements of German Romanticism. Composers from Richard Wagner to Hector Berlioz were greatly influenced by the colorful orchestrations and supernatural theatrics of Carl Maria von Weber’s work, which features thrilling use of hunter’s horns and spooky effects from the chorus. With this new production supported by a freshly commissioned English translation and a cast of internationally acclaimed artists, The Magic Marksman will undoubtedly be a production not to miss!”

Virginia Opera’s production of The Magic Marksman will showcase a seldom seen masterpiece and give Virginians a long overdue taste of the opera that set the standard from which future German opera evolved.

Performances across the state at the following venues:

·         The Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House – Norfolk – January 27, 29 & 31, 2017

·         George Mason University’s Center for the Arts – Fairfax – February 4 & 5, 2017

·         The Carpenter Theatre at Dominion Arts CenterRichmond – February 17 & 19, 2017

About Virginia Opera

Virginia Opera Association, Inc., in its 42nd season, is known and respected nationwide for the identification and presentation of the finest young artists, for the musical and dramatic integrity of its productions, and for the ingenuity and variety of its education and outreach programs.  Mainstage performances in three markets across the Commonwealth reach nearly 50,000 attendees annually.

In March of 1994, by unanimous vote of the Virginia General Assembly, Virginia Opera was named The Official Opera Company of the Commonwealth of Virginia in recognition of the organization’s contribution to the state as well as to the world of opera.  For tickets and information visit vaopera.org or call 866.673.7282.