In this famous tale of lust and disgrace, the newly impoverished Blanche Dubois arrives in 1940’s New Orleans to live with her sister and brother-in-law in their shabby apartment. As the weeks press on, dark truths about Blanche’s past collide with the stark reality of the present, leading to a downward spiral of domestic violence, degradation and madness. Andre Previn’s Streetcar is a faithful adaptation of the classic Tennessee Williams play, with a score that evokes the gravity of the story and the lush, bluesy New Orleans atmosphere.
Kelly Cae Hogan (Die Walküre, 2011) makes her triumphant return as Blanche DuBois opposite American baritone, David Adam Moore, making his company debut as the menacing and sexy Stanley Kowalski. The second Virginia Opera premiere of the season is helmed by two of opera's most in-demand visionaries: Director Sam Helfrich (Orphée, 2012) and Conductor Ari Pelto.
Please note: This production includes simulated cigarette smoking with the use of a water vapor-based prop.
Blanche DuBois has come to New Orleans to visit her sister Stella and Stella's husband Stanley. Though she has nothing, having lost her job and the family home, she is appalled by the relative poorness of Stanley and Stella's home. Stanley immediately dislikes Blanche, finding her fake and pretentious. He accuses her of squandering the money from the sale of the home, but she defends herself, saying that the home was lost because of the negligence of her relatives. Later, Stanley is playing poker with his friend Mitch when Stella and Blanche return. Blanche is intrigued by Mitch, and after talking about past heartbreak, they turn on the radio. Stanley is furious, rips the radio out of the wall, and strikes out at Stella. Blanche takes Stella upstairs, and Stanley sobers up, calling out desperately for Stella. She goes to him. The next morning, Blanche entreats Stella to leave Stanley, as he listens from the next room.
A few weeks later, Blanche is still staying with Stella and Stanley. Stanley confronts Blanche with the information that there is a rumor circulating that she used to spend time at a run-down and disreputable hotel. Stanley takes Stella, who is pregnant, out for the evening. A young paper boy comes to the door, and Blanche kisses him, but pulls away. Then she gets ready for her date with Mitch.
Blanche and Mitch return from their date, and Mitch tells her that his mother would like to see him settled. Blanche
becomes too involved in her own story to respond, lost in a reverie about her involvement with a young man whose homosexuality caused her to reject him, leading to his suicide.
Blanche is upstairs getting ready for her birthday party. Stanley tells Stella about Blanche's illicit past, which ended with her being run out of town. Blanche comes downstairs and the three of them share a quiet dinner. Stanley gives Blanche a birthday present—a one-way ticket back home. Blanche is upset and leaves the table. Stella goes into labor and Stanley takes her to the hospital.
Mitch finally shows up, drunk. Stanley has told him about Blanche's history. A Mexican flower seller comes to the door, and Blanche starts to reminisce about all the young soldiers who loved her then died. Blanche begs Mitch to marry her, but he says she isn't even good enough to meet his mother. She demands that he leave. Stanley comes home. Blanche is delusional, seeing specters of past admirers. Stanley threatens her. Blanche tries to defend herself with a broken bottle, but Stanley overpowers her and carries her into his bedroom.
A few days later, Stella is back from the hospital with their baby boy, and the same men sit around the table, playing poker. Blanche is getting ready for an imaginary date. Stella doesn't believe Blanche's accusations against Stanley, and has called the asylum to take Blanche away. The doctors arrive at the door, and Blanche leaves with them, relying on the kindness of these strangers.
- Claire Marie Blaustein
Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire premiered on Broadway in 1947. Almost 50 years later, the story of the tragic Blanche DuBois and her encounters with strangers got a new life in pianist, conductor, and composer Andre Previn’s opera.
The Previn family left Germany in 1938, fleeing the Nazi regime, and resettled in Los Angles, where Previn’s great-uncle was living and working as a musical director at Universal Studios. Previn’s first musical career was playing as a jazz pianist throughout the 1950’s and early 60’s. He took a post as conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1968, and spent the following decades leading many of the country’s major symphonies. As a composer, Previn’s work had covered songs, film scores, and orchestral works. Streetcar Named Desire was his first opera, and only one of two he has composed.
The operatic Streetcar got its premiere in San Francisco in 1998. The idea for the opera started with the general director of the San Francisco Opera. He had recently seen the play, and saw the operatic potential in the dramatic storyline. He approached several composers to consider the score before talking to Previn. Reportedly, Previn’s reply was along the lines of “I would jump off of a building to work on that project.”
Previn was paired with librettist Lotfi Mansouri, Philip Littell, and they began work on the opera. In an article in The New York Times about the announcement of the commission, Previn is quoted:
"I think 'Streetcar' is an opera already, except that it doesn't have music," Mr. Previn said. "There is a certain amount of pressure in setting a work this familiar. Some of the lines are so familiar as to be parodyable —the screaming of 'Stella!' for example. But I'm going to postpone dealing with that for a while." (New York Times, “’ Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Gatsby' to Be Operas”, Allan Kozin, April 24, 1996)
The familiarity of lines spoken on both stage and screen by the great Marlon Brando was only one of Previn’s concerns. The text of Williams’ play is filled with musical references, from the general hum of blues on a New Orleans street to specific references to songs underscoring key monologues. Previn made the choice to disregard them all, hoping to avoid simply setting the play to music, rather than actually crafting an opera with the story. He even avoided making the score overtly “jazzy,” though both his personal style and the setting of the story made it impossible to avoid completely.
In the opera, Previn does not deviate from the original arc of the story. In the beginning of the play, and the first lines of the opera, Blanche takes the streetcar Desire, transfers to the streetcar Cemetery, and get off at Elysian Fields to find her sister Stella. With this short journey, the listeners trace the main relationship of the play – Blanche’s desires, meeting with the inevitability of pain and loss, and ending in something that can either be the reality of death, or the fiction of oblivion. The key players are all present—Blanche, her sister Stella, Stella’s brutal husband Stanley, the infatuated friend, Mitch. Blanche is still the same wilted southern belle, trying to leave behind a past that Stanley cannot help but shove in her face at every opportunity. The music, like the story, is at once languid and brutal, following four souls as they are torn apart by the harsh light of day.
Conductor, composer and pianist André Previn has received a number of awards and honors for his outstanding musical accomplishments, including both the Austrian and German Cross of Merit, and the Glenn Gould Prize. He is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, Gramophone Classic FM, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy. He has also received several Grammy awards for recordings, including the CD of his violin concerto "Anne-Sophie" and Bernstein's Serenade featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter together with the Boston and London Symphony orchestras.
A regular guest with the world's major orchestras, both in concert and on recordings, André Previn frequently works with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic. In addition, he has held chief artistic posts with such orchestras as the Houston Symphony, London Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony and Royal Philharmonic orchestras. In 2009, André Previn was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
As a pianist, André Previn enjoys recording and performing song recitals, chamber music and jazz. He has given recitals with Renée Fleming at Lincoln Center and with Barbara Bonney at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He regularly gives chamber music concerts with Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lynn Harrell, as well as with members of the Boston Symphony and London Symphony orchestras, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
André Previn has enjoyed a number of successes as a composer. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. His Cello Concerto performed by Daniel Müller-Schott and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra received its premiere in Leipzig in spring 2011. His Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass for Anne-Sophie Mutter and Roman Patkoló was premiered by the Boston Symphony in 2007, and his Harp Concerto commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony premiered in 2008; his work "Owls", was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2008; his second opera, "Brief Encounter", commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera premiered in 2009 and was released by Deutsche Grammophon in spring 2011; and his double concerto for violin and viola, written for Anne-Sophie Mutter and Yuri Bashmet, received its premiere in 2009.
For his 80th birthday celebrations in 2009, Carnegie Hall presented four concerts which showcased the diversity of his career. Highlights of the 2010 season include concerts with the Czech Philharmonic at the Prague Spring Festival where André Previn performed his Clarinet Sonata in a world premiere together with BSO's Tom Martin, performances with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic and a tour of Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
In the current season, André Previn returns to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra in a series of concerts in Japan. André Previn records for Deutsche Grammophon. His music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc., and Chester Music Ltd.
Blanche DuBois • Kelly Cae Hogan
Stanley Kowalski • David Adam Moore
Stella Kowalski • Julia Ebner
Harold Mitchell • Scott Ramsay
Eunice Hubbell • Margaret Gawrysiak
Steve Hubbell • Matthew DiBattista
A Young Collector • Drew Duncan
Mexican Woman • Sondra Gelb
Nurse • Hilary Ginther
Doctor • Patrick O’Halloran
Pablo Gonzales • Edward Hanlon
Ms. Hogan is now making her mark as Brünnhilde, singing her first with Virginia Opera, and then jumping in last minute for Opera North in Leeds for the premiere performance and LIVE BBC broadcast this spring. Future performances include Fidelio for Staatstheater Kassel, where she also sings Tannhäuser.She has also sung Lady Macbeth of Mzensk in Kassel, Der Rosenkavalier in Bremen, From the House of the Dead at the Met, Der Fliegende Holländer in Schwerin, Norma, Nabucco and Salome in Bremen, Tosca in Weimar and Puerto Rico, and Turandot in both Kiel and Bremen. A popular Salome, she has sung it with The Polish National Opera, Florentine Opera, Opera Company of North Carolina, Lyric Opera of Kansas City among others, as well as on tour throughout Japan.
In addition to singing Stanley in his Virginia Opera debut, David Adam Moore also sings a performance of the role with Lyric Opera of Chicago this season and Eötvös’ Angels in America (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Roméo et Juliette (Arizona Opera). Recent operatic performances include Richard III (Genève), Pagliacci (New Orleans), Die Zauberflöte (Austin), A Midsummer Nights Dream and Candide (Milan); Billy Budd, La bohème (Pittsburgh); Il barbiere di Siviglia; Les Pêcheur de Perles, Così fan tutte (Seattle); Angels in America (London, Fort Worth); Candide (Paris, Tokyo); Dido and Aeneas(Cooperstown); Billy Budd, Peter Grimes (Tel Aviv); Così fan tutte(Phoenix, Palm Beach); Il barbiere di siviglia, Don Giovanni (Hannover); Die Zauberflöte(New York City); and Roméo et Juliette(San Diego, Saint Louis, Salt Lake City).
Julia Ebner is thrilled to return to Virginia Opera after making her company debut as Gretel last season. Ms. Ebner’s operatic credits include Juliette in Romeo et Juliette, Hanna in The Merry Widow. Giuletta in I Capuleti e I Montecchi Musetta in La Boheme, Marguerite in Faust, Micaela in Carmen, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She has taken the stage with companies including Florida Grand Opera, Syracuse Opera, Opera North, Opera in the Heights, and Tri-Cities Opera. She is also the 2011 recipient of the Campbell Wachter Memorial Award from the The Santa Fe Opera.
In 2012-13 Scott Ramsay returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire and for its production of Werther; and sings Henry Ward Beecher in Bond’s Mrs. President (world premiere, Anchorage Opera). Recent highlights: Lenski in Eugene Onegin (Madison Opera); Duke in Rigoletto (Sacramento Opera); Alfredo in La traviata (Lubbock Symphony Orchestra); Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress (Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra); Carmina Burana (Fresno Philharmonic); Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); soloist in Sharafyan’s Psalm 51 for Tenor and String Quartet (Avalon String Quartet); and in Verdi’s “Defiant” Requiem (Berkshire Choral Festival).
Margaret Gawrysiak, mezzo-soprano, made her Virginia Opera debut as the Mother/Witch in Hänsel und Gretel. She recently performed Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, and Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd at Wolf Trap Opera; and Frugola in Il tabarro, and Zita in Gianni Schicchi with Maestro Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival. As a graduate of Seattle Opera’s Young Artist Program, she was featured as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Olga in Eugene Onegin, and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a member of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, she performed Isabella in scenes from L’italiana in Algeri on the Schwabacher Concert Program.
In 2012-13 Matthew DiBattista sings Beppe in I Pagliacci and Tinka in Il tabarro (Opera Theatre of St. Louis). Highlights include Jasper Vanderbilt in Mechem’s The Rivals (Skylight Opera Theatre); Mouse/Dormouse/Cook/Invisible Man in Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis), David in Die Meistersinger (Boston Symphony Orchestra); Mozart’s Requiem (Harvard University), Flavio in Norma (Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood); Valet Tenors in Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Florida Grand Opera); Molqi in The Death of Klinghoffer and Bégearss in The Ghosts of Versailles (Opera Theatre of St. Louis); and title role in The Good Soldier Schweik (Long Beach Opera).
Drew Duncan, originally from Milford, IA, is excited to return to Virginia Opera as a 2012-2013 Emerging Artist. Last season Mr. Duncan made his debut with Virginia Opera singing A Messenger in Aida and theReporter in Orphée. Also last season Mr. Duncan debuted with Opera Omaha as The Witch in their production of Hansel and Gretel. Previously Mr. Duncan has sung with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Des Moines Metro Opera, Sarasota Opera, Castleton Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera for the Young, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, and in 2010 was a Central Region Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Contralto, Sondra Gelb, is pleased to be taking the stage for her sixth Virginia Opera production, having made her debut as Third Lady in Die Zauberflote in 1988. Ms. Gelb is also a veteran of six years of singing with New York City Opera, having performed such roles as Marcellina (Nozze di Figaro), Pitti-Sing (The Mikado), Mamma Lucia (Cavalleria Rusticana), Marquise de Berkenfeld (La Fille de Regiment - on their national tour), as well as many others. She has also sung numerous roles with Florida Grand Opera, such as La Cieca (La Gioconda), Frau Mary (Der Fliegende Hollander), and Grimgerde (Die Walkure), and has been a concert soloist with Virginia Symphony, Pacific Symphony and the New School of Music Orchestra, with whom she recorded Die Erste Walpurgisnacht for the Arabesque label.
A native of Overland Park, KS, tenor Patrick O’Halloran is a promising lyric voice. Most recently he was seen performing Rodolfo in La bohéme in Central City Opera’s family performance.This season as an Emerging Artist he will cover the roles of Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, and Steve Hubble in A Streetcar Named Desire. He will also sing the role of Don Curzio in Le nozze di Figaro. In November, he sings the role of Cavaradossi in Tosca with the Lafayette Symphony, and in September of 2013, Patrick makes his Kentucky Opera mainstage debut as Rodolfo in La bohéme.
Mezzo-soprano Hilary Ginther received acclaim as Bobachino in the premiere of Musto’s The Inspector at Wolf Trap Opera in 2011. With Virginia Opera she will perform in a touring production of Hansel and Gretel, and will sing The Nurse and cover Eunice Hubble in A Streetcar Named Desire. Other performance credits include Zerlina (Don Giovanni) Pitti-Sing (The Mikado), Jo (Little Women), 3rd Spirit (Die Zauberflöte), Annina (La Traviata), Cherubino (The Marriage of Figaro), Mrs. McLean (Susannah), Maria (West Side Story), the title role in Carmen, and Sesto (Giulio Cesare). Ms Ginther has participated in the Wolf Trap Opera Studio and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.
Bass-baritone Edward Hanlon, a 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Semi-Finalist and Ryan Opera Center Finalist, is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Recent engagements include covering with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, performing with Michigan Opera Theatre, Virginia Opera, Winter Opera St. Louis, Toledo Opera and Opera Siena. An alumnus of several young artist programs, Edward sang with Des Moines Metro Opera this past summer and has performed with the Glimmerglass Festival, Ash Lawn Opera and Chautauqua Opera. Edward has upcoming engagements with Virginia Opera and Ohio Light Opera and currently resides in Chicago with his wife, soprano Tanya Roberts.
With performances that have been called poetic, earthy, vigorous and highly individual, conductor Ari Pelto is in demand at opera houses, ballets, symphonies and conservatories throughout the United States. Since his 2004 début at New York City Opera with La traviata, Mr. Pelto has been engaged as a regular guest there, returning for Madama Butterfly, La bohème, and Carmen. Recent highlights have included La bohème with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis; The Cunning Little Vixen at Chautauqua Opera (where he “led a taut, rakish, and, at the right times, sentimental reading of this tricky score,” according to Opera Today); Rusalka and La bohème at Boston Lyric Opera; Romeo et Juliet at Minnesota Opera; The Magic Flute, Le nozze di Figaro, and Hansel and Gretel at Portland Opera; Carmen and Hansel and Gretel at Utah Opera; and Il barbiere di Siviglia at Opera Memphis. Current engagements include his debut with Opera Colorado for Don Giovanni; and a return to Opera Memphis for La bohème. Mr. Pelto has conducted operas at Curtis, Juilliard, San Francisco Conservatory, and Manhattan School of Music. At the Oberlin Conservatory, he has led works of Mahler, Mozart and Poulenc, and at New York University, works of Sibelius and Brahms.
Sam Helfrich is an opera and theater directed based in New York. He has directed opera productions at companies including Glimmerglass Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Portland Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Boston, Spoleto Festival/USA, Berkshire Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and Boston Baroque Orchestra, among others. In New York, his recent off-Broadway production of Tape, by Stephen Belber, played to wide acclaim. Recent opera highlights include the American premiere of Philip Glass' Kepler at Spoleto Festival USA, Adams' Nixon in China with Eugene Opera, a fully staged Messiah with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the world premiere of Michael Dellaira's The Secret Agent at Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, the Armel Opera Festival in Hungary, and Opera Avignon, Rameau's Les Indes Galantes with Boston Baroque, Don Giovanni with Yale Opera, The Turn of the Screw at Boston Lyric Opera, Philip Glass' Orphée at Virginia Opera, Portland Opera, and Glimmerglass Opera, Anthony Davis' Amistad at Spoleto Festival/USA, and Aida at Opera Omaha. Upcoming projects include Heggie's Dead Man Walking at Eugene Opera, and several productions in Rostock, Germany, among others. He holds a BA in Russian literature and an MFA in theater arts, both from Columbia University, and has recently held guest teaching positions at NYU, Yale University, and Manhattan School of Music.
Virginia Opera: Debut Off-Broadway: Food and Fadwa (New York Theater Workshop), Wild Animals You Should Know (MCC Theater), Warrior Class, Sex Lives Of Our Parents, Bachelorette (Second Stage Theater), El Gato Con Botas (Gotham Chamber Opera)Regional: The Whipping Man (Hartford Stage), Crimes of the Heart (McCarter Theatre), Endgame (American Repertory Theater), Bustop (Kansas City Repertory Theater), Six Degrees of Separation (The Old Globe), Touched (Williamstown Theater Festival), Faust (Minnesota Opera), Abduction From The Seraglio (Opera Omaha) Education: M.F.A., NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Aaron Black’s collection of work runs the gamut of disciplines from lighting design for dance, theatre, and opera; to production design and art direction for film and television; to large-scale architectural and thematic design for leading family amusement parks. His worldwide Opera credits include productions for The Royal Opera House, New York City Opera, Portland Opera, Bard Summerscape Glimmerglass Opera, MontrealL Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Opera Bilbao, Virginia Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Omaha, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston.
Kaye Voyce (costume design)- previously at Virginia Opera: Philip Glass’ Orphée. Recent opera credits include: Kepler (Spoleto Festival USA), Don Giovanni (New York Philharmonic at the Park Avenue Armory), A Quiet Place (New York City Opera), and The Consul (Glimmerglass Opera).Theatre credits include: Shining City (Broadway), 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center Theater), “The National Broadway Company” (Esplanade Arts Center, Singapore), Neutral Hero (Festival d’Automne, Paris, Vienna Festwochen, HAU Theater, Berlin), and Richard Maxwell’s installation “Open Rehearsal” which was part of the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
James P. McGough is pleased to return for his 15th season with the Virginia Opera. He is excited to work on new operas this year as well as revisiting some “old friends.” He enjoys collaborating on both new, innovative productions as well as traditional approaches to the operas we present. During the off season, Jim is a designer and make-up artist for Fort Worth Opera Festival. Over a 25 year career, Jim’s work has been seen in theatres across the U.S. from Broadway to regional productions. He dedicates this season to the loving memory of his parents.