“Who wants real? I know I don’t want it. I want magic!” are lines of dialogue many know. In the past, these lines from Tennessee Williams’ legendary 1948 Pulitzer Prize winning “A Streetcar Named Desire” have been spoken, and not associated with music or singing. That has now changed. As an opera, with music in a key central role throughout, the rarely performed in D.C, “Streetcar,” with its memorably rich, damaged characters, takes on a whole new life.
Does it conjure up images of long dead classical composers like Mozart and Verdi; centuries old tales filled with plot twists involving Valkyries and sprites; divas belting out songs in German or Italian? The Virginia Opera is boldly trying to change those perceptions of opera with a season filled with modern and American opera selections. An operatic version of the classic Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire opened Saturday night at the Harrison Opera House.
A trunk. A sofa. A dinette set. In the mind of stage director Sam Helfrich, these items represent the three main characters in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” a 1998 opera composed by André Previn and based on Tennessee Williams’ classic 1947 play. The Virginia Opera production of “Streetcar” opens tonight at Harrison Opera House in Norfolk.
Stage director Sam Helfrich promises that the Virginia Opera Association production of A Streetcar Named Desire, composer André Previn’s treatment of Tennessee Williams’ famous and famously quoted play, will give audiences an “an incredible actress“ in the role of Blanche, and a “portrayal” of that famously lost soul that will “very [much] surprise … audiences who know the play.”
One hundred or more years ago, when audiences saw a Puccini opera, it might have been a premiere. The Puccini and Verdi works we’re so accustomed to seeing in opera houses today once were new works, and they often generated a lot of controversy. That opportunity has been presented to Virginia Opera audiences of late as the company sets a new course designed to mix recent and new American works with Puccini and Verdi favorites.
In an expansion of its usual four-opera lineup, Virginia Opera will present five operas and one operatically inclined Broadway musical in its 2013-14 Richmond season. Four of the operas — “Falstaff,” “The Magic Flute,” “Ariadne auf Naxos” and “Carmen” — will be marketed as a subscription package. Two special engagements — “The Girl of the Golden West” and “Sweeney Todd” — will be sold as subscription add-ons.
Virginia Opera continues its exploration of premieres and American works in its 2013-2014 season announcement. Subscriptions are now on sale. The company will open its 39th year in September with Verdi’s “Falstaff,” a work never before mounted in Hampton Roads. The rest of the lineup includes Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in November, Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” in February 2014, and Bizet’s “Carmen” in March 2014.
The Virginia Opera has announced its 2013-14 season, which will showcase an impressive slate of notable directors, conductors and singers.
The Virginia Opera Company is making its debut at Virginia Beach’s Sandler Center with a real surprise – a brilliant, inventive new staging of “Camelot.”
As a large-scale musical, Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot” can get lost in the pomp and pageantry of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Though an instant hit when it opened on Broadway in 1960, the production was heavy with dialogue and ran for more than four hours.