Detroit Opera Announces 2022-23 Season Highlighted by Faust, Aida, and The Valkyries

Detroit Opera has announced the 2022–23 schedule in its first full season at the newly renovated Detroit Opera House, including classics presented in new stagings to a contemporary masterpiece in an international co-production.
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“The Valkyries” will be performed in its original German language with English translations at the Detroit Opera House for three nights, Sept. 17-20. // Courtesy of Detroit Opera
“The Valkyries” will be performed in its original German language with English translations at the Detroit Opera House for three nights, Sept. 17-20. // Courtesy of Detroit Opera

Detroit Opera has announced the 2022–23 schedule in its first full season at the newly renovated Detroit Opera House, including classics presented in new stagings to a contemporary masterpiece in an international co-production.

The improvements include a new elevator tower on the east side of the opera house that connects to the roof, along with numerous interior upgrades and a newly paved surface parking lot.

The opera season opens Sept. 17 with a new staging of “The Valkyries” (from Wagner’s “Die Walkure: Act III”) in a new production by Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director Yuval Sharon, under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis and a cast led by Detroit Opera Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke. “The Valkyries” is a co-production with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The season also includes a new production of Osvaldo Golijov’s “Ainadamar,” marking Detroit Opera’s first international co-production with Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera. Other staged productions include Gounod’s “Faust,” directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz and conducted by Valerio Galli, in a production from Opera Omaha, and Tazewell Thompson’s staging of Handel’s “Xerxes” from the Glimmerglass Festival.

Rounding out the season are a concert performance of Verdi’s Aida, featuring role debuts by soprano Angel Blue (“Aida”) and Christine Goerke (“Amneris”), and conducted by Jonathon Heyward.

The dance season at the Detroit Opera House provides patrons with multiple dance experiences. Alonzo King LINES Ballet brings its signature combination of contemporary choreography and classical ballet esthetic to Detroit for its 40th anniversary tour, while Mark Morris Dance Group’s “The Hard Nut” will make its first appearance in Detroit.

Ballet Preljocaj takes flight in a reinvention of the timeless masterpiece “Swan Lake,” co-presented with the University of Michigan’s University Musical Society. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Detroit Opera House stage to transcend barriers and celebrate the African American experience. Nina Ananiashvili will lead a rare U.S. appearance from the esteemed ballet company The State Ballet of Georgia.

Opera Season

For its 2022-2023 opera season, the company will present a line-up that includes three company premieres in a bid to expand the repertoire. The season opens with The Valkyries, a standalone presentation of Act III of Richard Wagner’s “Die Walküre,” the second of four operas encompassing the composer’s epic Ring Cycle.

Conceived and directed by Sharon, “The Valkyries” appears in co-production with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Focusing on Act III allows a deeper focus on the central relationship of the entire cycle, while the production deploys 21st-century technology to bring to life the proto-cinematic nature of Wagner’s vision.

The production unites the artistic team of Detroit Opera, with Sharon being the first American director to create a production at Wagner’s legendary Bayreuth Festival, and Detroit Opera Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde, a role that has made her one of the world’s most celebrated and sought-after Wagnerian sopranos.

Internationally renowned bass baritone Alan Held makes his Detroit Opera debut as Wotan. Sir Andrew Davis, former music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, will lead the Detroit Opera Orchestra in a showpiece for the orchestra, including the iconic “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Magic Fire Music.”

“The Valkyries” will be performed in its original German language with English translations at the Detroit Opera House for three nights, Sept. 17-20.

Detroit Opera’s fall season continues with Charles Gounod’s grand opera “Faust,” a work that the company has staged on five occasions since its first production in 1978. The 2022 production of the opera, brought to life by award-winning director Lileana Blain-Cruz, will provide audiences with a new approach to Goethe’s timeless story of the scholar who sells his soul to the devil in return for eternal youth.

Originally produced by Opera Omaha in 2019, the production employs a new critical edition of the score, which restores Gounod’s original music, omitted scenes, and a balletic element not heard or seen in 150 years.

American stars Talise Trevigne and Jonathan Johnson appear as Marguerite and Faust, respectively, with Canadian bass Robert Pomakov making his Detroit Opera debut as Méphistophélès. Italian conductor Valerio Galli will lead the Detroit Opera Orchestra and Detroit Opera Chorus. The opera will be performed in its original French language with English translation for three performances, Nov. 12-20 at the Detroit Opera House.

The company premiere of George Frideric Handel’s baroque masterpiece “Xerxes” will open the 2023 spring opera season. Best known for its aria “Ombra mai fu,” commonly known as “Handel’s Largo,” this late work is a fast-paced mixture of comedy and tragedy, making it an ideal introduction to the exquisite beauty of Handel’s music.

The production, originally created and directed by Detroit Opera veteran Tazewell Thompson at the Glimmerglass Festival, includes set designs by John Conklin. James Blaszko returns as revival director of the Detroit Opera presentation. Renowned Handel specialist Dame Jane Glover conducts a cast that includes countertenor Key’mon Murrah, making his Detroit Opera debut in the title role, and soprano Lauren Snouffer in the role of Romilda.

“Xerxes” will be presented at the Detroit Opera House in three performances, April 8-16, 2023. The opera will be performed in Italian with English translation.

In its first international co-production, Detroit Opera partners with Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera to present the company premiere of Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov’s dramatic “Ainadamar” (“Fountain of Tears”), the tragic story of legendary poet Frederico García Lorca who was assassinated by fascists during the Spanish Civil War.

Golijov is widely acknowledged as one of the most original and eclectic composers of our time; his arresting and far-reaching score for Ainadamar melds flamenco, klezmer, classical singing, and electronic music to invoke an inimitable sound world.

Brazilian director-choreographer Deborah Colker, best known for her choreography of the 2016 Olympics opening ceremony and Cirque du Soleil’s show Ovo, directs her first opera, with Chilean conductor Paolo Bortolameolli leading the Detroit Opera Orchestra and Detroit Opera Chorus. The opera will be performed in its original Spanish language with English translations presented for three performances, April 8-16, 2023.

In complement to the staged opera season, Detroit Opera will present Giuseppe Verdi’s beloved opera “Aida” in concert on Dec. 30, with Jonathon Heyward leading the Detroit Opera Orchestra and Detroit Opera Chorus.

The concert will feature one of today’s most exciting singers, Angel Blue, in her role debut as Aida. Blue has taken the opera world by storm, recently winning audience and critical acclaim for her performance as Destiny in Terrence Blanchard’s landmark opera “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Christine Goerke also will make a significant role debut as Amneris. with Riccardo Massi singing Radamès. The company last presented a concert version of Verdi’s “Aida” in December 2000, when Luciano Pavarotti sang his first-ever concert version of the opera.

Dance Season

The 2022–23 Detroit Opera Dance Season, curated by Jon Teeuwissen, will feature an important international company and five dance experiences including some of the newest and most exciting artists as well as titans of the dance world.

The Kyiv City Ballet, under the artistic direction of Ivan Kozlov, announced it will be stopping at the Music Hall in Detroit on Sept. 27 during its U.S tour, which marks their first United States tour performances ever.

The day before Ukraine was invaded in February, The Kyiv City Ballet unknowingly took one of the last flights out of Kyiv. The company flew to Paris to begin a long-planned tour. They have not returned home. The country of France sheltered them, and the company has been performing throughout France, Europe, and now the U.S, since the invasion began.

All net proceeds from Detroit Opera and Music Hall will go to Real Help for Ukraine, which help place citizens of Ukraine in safe spaces until they can return home.

From Oct. 22-23, 2022, Alonzo King LINES Ballet brings its signature combination of contemporary choreography and classical ballet aesthetic to Detroit. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the few bona fide visionaries in the ballet world today” with “gripping, urgently beautiful choreography,” Alonzo King and his LINES Ballet company are exquisitely talented dancers and among the most celebrated names in the world of dance.

Since 1982, LINES Ballet has collaborated with noted composers, musicians, and visual artists from around the world to create performances that alter the way we look at ballet today. This performance is a part of the company’s 40th anniversary tour and features the music of jazz composer Jason Moran.

On Dec. 3-4, Mark Morris Dance Group’s “The Hard Nut” comes to Detroit. Set to Tchaikovsky’s music, performed with the Detroit Opera Orchestra, “The Hard Nut” is a beloved retro-modern reimagining of “The Nutcracker,” which channels the warm spirit of this essential holiday tradition into the swinging ’70s: with raucous parties, dancing G.I. Joes, and whimsical costumes influenced by comic book artist Charles Burns. The New York Times writes: “Fun and amazement dance in the same steps; the choreography lifts the whole audience through a crescendo of changing emotions.”

Detroit Opera’s dance season continues Feb. 17-19, 2023 with “Swan Lake,” performed by Ballet Preljocaj in a co-presentation with the University Musical Society. In this visionary take on a classic masterpiece, contemporary ballet superstar Angelin Preljocaj combines Tchaikovsky’s music with contemporary arrangements and bridges ballet and modern dance, reinventing the timeless tale of love, betrayal, seduction, and remorse into an ecological tragedy. Broadway World exclaims: “From the moment the dancers…walked onto the stage, they managed to hold the audience in their grasp.”

In Preljocaj’s vision, the evil sorcerer Rothbart is re-envisioned as an industrialist who wants to exploit fossil fuels against a backdrop of unbridled capitalism, while Siegfried and Odette are the two eco-conscious heroes who try to thwart his plans. Based in Aix-en-Provence, France, Ballet Preljocaj — known for dramatic and virtuosic choreography and direction, striking music, and spectacular design — will render a beautiful tribute to the original Swan Lake.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to grace the Detroit Opera House stage on March 17-19, 2023, revisiting its renowned dance work “Revelations.” For more than 50 years, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has entertained generations.

The Ailey company has performed for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents — and has reached millions more online and through television broadcasts. The New York Times touts “Watching Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater can change your life.”

Now, under the leadership of visionary artistic director Robert Battle, the company continues to honor the monumental legacy of its founder, while expanding the Ailey repertory and developing the next generation of choreographers. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Detroit Opera House is presented by the Gilbert Family Fund.

Detroit Opera’s Dance Season closes April 29-30, 2023 with a rare U.S. performance from the State Ballet of Georgia, the world-class ballet company of the Z. Paliashvilil Opera and Ballet State Theatre in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Since 2004, international ballet star Nina Ananiashvili has led this dynamic group, which has won acclaim in performances around the world. Ananiashvili honors native Georgian George Balanchine, considered one of the most important choreographers of the last century, to perform two of his masterpieces — “Serenade” and “Concerto Barocco” — as well as a Possokhov ballet, all accompanied by the Detroit Opera Orchestra. This program will provide Detroiters with a truly unique dance experience.

Single tickets for all performances start at $29. Subscription packages are still available, which allow the patron to enjoy priority seating, easy and free ticket exchanges, with savings up to 40 percent on tickets, exclusive access to pre-paid parking in the Opera House Parking Center, and additional perks. Packages start at $80.

Visit Detroitopera.org or call 313-237-7464 for more details.

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