June 30, 2016 – Virginia Opera’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Adam Turner, has “hit the road” on a nationwide tour of many of the leading summer opera festivals, in search of talent and new productions to present on Virginia Opera’s stages across the Commonwealth of Virginia!
In the next few weeks, Maestro Turner will visit 10 opera companies, seeing over 25 performances, including 2 world premieres in addition to revisiting many less often produced operas from the standard repertory. Some of the summer opera festivals he will visit include Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, San Francisco Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, Central City Opera in Colorado, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Saratoga, PORTOpera in Maine and Wolf Trap Opera, back here in Virginia. During his travels, he will have a chance to re-connect with singers and creative staff with whom he has formerly worked and watch their current performances on leading stages across the nation, as well as hear new singers whom may be cast in future Virginia Opera productions. From new artistic talent – conductors and directors, fresh scenery and stage designs – to new titles never before seen on Virginia Opera stages, Maestro Turner will immerse himself in an effort to bring the very best of the best in the world of opera today to Virginia Opera’s local stages for Virginia residents to enjoy.
Turner is off to a strong start on his journey, seeing some amazing new productions including two world premieres – starting with one at Cincinnati Opera, the heartrending new work, Fellow Travelers by one of today’s leading composers, Gregory Spears. Fellow Travelers features tenor Aaron Blake (Fenton in VO’s Falstaff 2013), and stage direction by Kevin Newbury, a director responsible for many recent world premieres, including one on our stages, (Rappahannock County 2011). A second world premiere on his trip is Shalimar the Clown at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, composed by Jack Perla, and adapted from the Salman Rushdie novel, featuring a unique orchestration that includes regional instruments the sitar and tabla. This production offers him the chance to catch up with Katharine Goeldner whom Virginia Opera audiences will recall from her recent riveting performance as Herodias in Salome (2015) and who will return to Virginia Opera in 2017-2018. Recently he experienced a magnificent Macbeth featuring Virginia Opera and Met alum, Matthew Plenk (Tamino in The Magic Flute 2013). Turner is now attending productions at San Francisco Opera including Jenufa, Don Carlo and Carmen. In fact, the Carmen he will hear in this production is VO’s very own Ginger Costa Jackson who sang the role on our stages! While in San Francisco, Turner visits other VO alums at Merola – one of the nation’s leading Emerging Artists programs. Choosing only 23 singers from a pool of international candidates – VO’s singers have done very well at Merola including VO audience favorite Shannon Jennings (Josephine in HMS Pinafore 2014), Taylor Raven (Education Tour, 2015), and newcomer Kyle Van Schoonhoven (covering Max in Der Freischütz 2017) – all landing one of the coveted positions!
While at Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO), Turner will catch up with conductor Gary Thor Wedow (VO’s Die Fledermaus 2012) as he conducts Gluck’s Orphée. He will visit in Iowa with former Emerging Artist pianist Cody Martin who is Wedow’s assistant conductor for the Gluck as well as Ed Parks (Marcello in VO’s La Boheme 2015), Wayne Tigges (The Dutchman in VO’s The Flying Dutchman 2016), Megan Marino (The Mikado 2012), and Troy Cook (Jupiter in VO’s Orpheus in the Underworld 2015) – among other recent VO mainstage artists performing in DMMO’s exciting Summer schedule. Off to PORTOpera in Maine, Turner will experience a performance of Menotti’s The Medium, featuring VO Emerging Artist Leah de Gruyl (Juno in Orpheus in the Underworld 2015). This cutting edge young-artist production will be directed by Richard Gammon who was responsible for our critically acclaimed young-patron enticing production of Bohème Unplugged (2015). At Opera Saratoga, he will rub elbows with Andrew Bisantz (VO’s La Traviata 2015) conducting The Marriage of Figaro, which features two of VO’s Emerging Artist graduates Courtney Miller (many productions 2013-2015, most recently La Traviata 2015) and Martin Bakari (many productions 2014-2016, most recently Romeo and Juliet, 2016).
Off to The Glimmerglass Festival where Turner is seeing Emerging Artist graduate Hunter Enoch (Ariadne auf Naxos 2014) perform Marcello in La Boheme, catching up with Maestro John DeMain (VO’s Aida (2011), Carmen (2014), and upcoming Turandot (2017)), and experiencing a production of Sweeney Todd that features VO alums Peter Volpe (Daland in VO’s The Flying Dutchman 2016) as the Judge, and VO new Emerging Artist Bille Bruley (VO’s The Seven Deadly Sins 2016) as Beadle Bamford, while former Emerging Artist Molly Hill (Venus in Orpheus in the Underworld 2015) has a role in The Crucible. While on a second stop this summer to Glimmerglass, Turner will also be hearing their Young Artist auditions, offering a unique opportunity for him to experience their entire roster of young singers. Santa Fe Opera (SFO) brings a welcome opportunity for Turner to catch up with VO alum directors Stephen Lawless (Salome 2015), Ron Daniels (Sweeney Todd 2014), and Kyle Lang (La Boheme 2015) as well as a host of many of VO’s former Emerging Artists and other VO mainstage artists. Once again, at SFO Turner will have an opportunity to be present for auditions for their young-artist program as well as experience the entire SFO apprentice program from the stage of Santa Fe. His final planned stop this summer is at Central City Opera (CCO) – which was home to Turner for many summer seasons, where VO’s new Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor, Aaron Breid has taken over one of Turner’s previous roles as Associate Conductor and Chorus Master, a position Turner held for 3 seasons before becoming a regular guest-conductor at CCO. Breid will conduct the family matinee performance of The Ballad of Baby Doe and Turner will be seeing the dress rehearsal for that particular performance. To put this into perspective, seeing The Ballad of Baby Doe at Central City is akin to seeing a Wagner opera at Bayreuth – and it’s the 60th anniversary of its premiere! While in town, Turner will see John Baril (VO’s The Barber of Seville 2016) conduct Tosca and Musto’s Later the Same Evening, as well as catch up with many, many former VO Emerging Artist and mainstage alums! It’s easy to see the world-class quality of the artists that VO audiences get to experience on a regular basis when seen through the lens of the amazing places that so many, many of VO singers perform in as soon as they leave VO stages! VO congratulates the many current and former Emerging Artists now being heard by patrons around the globe, and offers a heartfelt thanks to the mainstage singers who make Virginia Opera part of their family each season.
Previous trips by Maestro Turner and President and CEO Russell Allen have resulted in experienced artists and productions that have already graced or will grace Virginia Opera’s stages across the Commonwealth. These include the stunning new production of The Barber of Seville, which will be seen by Virginia Opera audiences this fall, from the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ 2014 Season; the widely-acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd, performed at VO in fall 2014, followed a viewing by both Turner and Allen at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2012; and a brilliant new production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman recently performed in Virginia from The Glimmerglass Festival’s 2013 Season, conceived and mounted by Francesca Zambello. Other productions and artists that Turner and Allen sought out to sample and bring to Virginia will be Michael Chioldi (Salome 2015) who will return in Virginia Opera’s upcoming Pagliacci (Fall 2016), and conductor Paul Curran who will be coming to Virginia Opera stages to mount a production during the coming 2017-2018 season. Such summer marathons are part of the secret of what makes Virginia Opera great, with a tremendous dedication and investment in time, travel and lots of hours watching opera that definitely works to the benefit of the Commonwealth!
On the road, Maestro Turner will share his encounters in a series of fun and engaging Facebook posts – from previews to reviews, moments with the cast or where’s the best place to enjoy an evening with friends, so be sure to “like” Virginia Opera and follow along – consider this your “All-Access Pass” as you may see the next bright star before they are even cast in an upcoming production for you to enjoy!
About Virginia Opera
Virginia Opera Association, Inc., performs at the Edythe C. and Stanley L. Harrison Opera House in Norfolk, Virginia, the Dominion Arts Center Carpenter Theatre in Richmond, Virginia and The Center for the Arts at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Now in its 42nd season, the company 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 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 more information, visit vaopera.org or call 866.673.7282.