TAMPA — It’s official: Opera Tampa will continue its long custom of producing world-class grand opera in the Tampa Bay area.
Opera Tampa recently unveiled its 2020-2021 anniversary season schedule, promising that it will “transfix every opera fanatic and charm any curious novice.” The upcoming season will feature the work of Puccini, Verdi and Gilbert and Sullivan.
The announcement offers opera lovers something to look forward to following the mandatory cancellation of several performances in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like all performing arts venues, the Straz Center was forced to suspend all productions, classes and events. For Opera Tampa, that meant a premature end to its 2019-2020 season. The April 2020 production of “Aida” was canceled. The March 2020 production of “The Pirates of Penzance” has been rescheduled for next year. Opera Tampa also canceled its 25th anniversary Grand Gala, originally scheduled for May 2.
But the pause in production will not go on forever and plans are well underway for the organization’s imminent return.
“We have such an immense opera season to look forward to for 2020-2021,” said Judy Lisi, Straz Center president and Opera Tampa general director. “We’ve been the leader in the Tampa Bay area for so many years in producing grand opera and we are thrilled to continue that tradition next season. We’re excited to open the season with Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic masterpiece ‘The Pirates of Penzance.’ This wonderful production, sidelined by the COVID-19 crisis, will now make its Opera Tampa premiere just in time for Gasparilla 2021 with most of the principal artists and creative team intact.”
Opera Tampa also found a way to bring back other creative individuals who were kept from the stage due to the pandemic.
“I am also thrilled to announce that most of the talented principal artists and creative team contracted to be part of the now-cancelled ‘Aida,’ will be part of Opera Tampa’s 2021 production of Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore,’” Lisi added. “We’ll conclude the season with ‘Madama Butterfly,’ Puccini’s sweeping, epic love story. There is no doubt that this season will delight our long-time supporters, attract new opera fans and showcase the unique, superlative talent we’re able to present as a rising opera company on the international scene.”
All performances will be presented in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Following is a summary of the 2020-2021 Opera Tampa season:
W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’
- Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at 2 p.m.
“The Pirates of Penzance” will be sung in English with lyrics projected above the stage. Maestro Robin Stamper will lead an international cast along with the Opera Tampa Orchestra and Chorus. Tyler Putnam (Pirate King), Cree Carrico (Mabel) and Gabriel Preisser (Major-General Stanley) headline the production. Melissa Misener directs.
Giuseppe Verdi’s ‘Il Trovatore’
- Friday, March 12, 2021, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, March 13, 2021, at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, March 14, 2021, at 2 p.m.
“Il Trovatore” will be sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage. Maestro Stamper will again conduct an international cast along with the Opera Tampa Orchestra and Chorus. Adam Diegel (Manrico), Michelle Johnson (Leonora), Deborah Nansteel (Azucena), Joshua Jeremiah (Count di Luna) and Stefan Szkafarowsky (Ferrando) headline the production.
Giacomo Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’
- Friday, April 23, 2021, at 8 p.m.
- Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 8 p.m.
- Sunday, April 25, 2021, at 2 p.m.
“Madama Butterfly” will be sung in Italian with English translations projected above the stage. Maestro Andrew Bisantz will lead an international cast along with the Opera Tampa Orchestra and Chorus. The production will be led by Yulia Lysenko (Cio Cio San on Friday and Sunday), Susan Hellman Spatafora (Cio Cio San on Saturday), Jake Gardner (Sharpless), Robyn Rocklein (Suzuki) and Alex Mansoori (Goro), with further principal casting to be announced.
In addition to the three mainstage performances, the Opera Tampa season also incorporates a variety of special events including performances by the Opera Tampa Singers, pre- and post-performance receptions, the popular open rehearsals and the informative Discover Opera programs.
The annual LIVE! in the Park is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 8, in Curtis Hixon Park. The date for the 2021 Opera Tampa Grand Gala has not yet been established.
For information and to purchase tickets, call 813-229-7827 or visit www.operatampa.org.