Chicago Opera Theater Readies for 2013 Surprises
When an opera company has built a reputation for being surprising and unusual, it should be expected that a change in management will lead to programming that is ... surprising and unusual.
With general director Brian Dickie in his final season at Chicago Opera Theater, which begins this month with new productions of Shostakovich and Handel works in Chicago premieres, his successor Andreas Mitisek is going even further toward experimental music theater for his first season, announced Wednesday.
Out for COT's 2013 season are British works, the Baroque era and Mozart, all staples under Dickie. In come Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla and at least one nod to the Dickie era, an early Verdi work that had won an earlier "People's Opera" fund-raising contest but was awaiting a schedule date.
COT also will move from an intense festival-like schedule, and instead Mitisek will spread his first three offerings across the year. Glass' setting of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1987) will open the season Feb. 23-March 1. Piazzolla's tango-inspired, music-theater piece "Maria of Buenos Aires" (1967) will be the spring work, April 20-28. Verdi's 1844-45 "Giovanna d'Arco" ("Joan of Arc") will wrap up the season Sept. 14-22.
A conductor and stage director as well as a manager, Mitisek will wear all three hats for the 70-minute "Maria," as he did earlier this year when the work bowed at California's Long Beach Opera, where he remains artistic and general director. COT will import the LBO production. Ken Cazan, who staged COT's 2004 "Death in Venice," one of the great Dickie achievements, will direct the 90-minute Poe/Glass work, which will travel to Long Beach.
Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra played the overture to Verdi's neglected "Giovanna" to open the CSO's current season. The COT production will mark the first chance for Chicagoans to hear the rest of the musical giant's seventh opera, which requires a very sturdy soprano for its three hours.