Cincinnati Opera Announces 2014 Summer Festival Casting Highlights






Cincinnati Opera presents internationally acclaimed singers Maria Luigia Borsi, Alexandra Deshorties, Kelley O’Connor, Nathalie Paulin, Stacey Rishoi, Jessica Rivera, Erin Wall, William Burden, Steven Cole, Roberto de Candia, Michael Maniaci,  

Shawn Mathey, and Daniel Okulitch. 

CINCINNATI, OH — Cincinnati Opera is pleased to announce casting highlights and production information for its 2014 Summer Festival. As originally announced in July 2012, the company’s 94th season will feature four operas, including the company’s first Baroque opera and the company premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night.   

The 2014 Summer Festival, which runs from June 12 to July 27, will open with Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Next, Cincinnati Opera proudly presents the new American opera Silent Night by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell. The company will then produce its first-ever Baroque opera, Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto, in the Corbett Theater at the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA). The season will close with Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. 

Cincinnati Opera

2014 Season Repertoire and Principal Artist Highlights 


June 12, 14, 20 & 22m 

The 94th season opens with Georges Bizet’s seductive Carmen in a production by Allen Charles Klein, the acclaimed designer of Cincinnati Opera’s majestic 2013 production of Aida. Mezzo-soprano Stacey Rishoi takes on the title role with an “emotionally expressive voice and a dramatic stage presence” (Washington Post). Her recent Cincinnati Opera appearances include the roles of La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi (2012) and Maddalena in Rigoletto (2011). Tenor William Burden returns after a “superb” performance (Cincinnati Enquirer) as Lensky in Eugene Onegin (2011) to reprise the role of the tortured Don José. Daniel Okulitch brings “a beautiful, expressive dark bass-baritone voice” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) to the role of the toreador Escamillo. Soprano Jessica Rivera, whose last Cincinnati Opera appearance was the luminous portrayal of Kumudha in A Flowering Tree (2011), lends her “poised, beautiful singing” (The Boston Herald) to the role of the virtuous Micaela. Bass Nathan Stark returns following 2013 season appearances as the Commendatore in Don Giovanni and Pope Urban VIII in Galileo Galilei to perform the role of Zuniga, and tenor Aaron Blake follows his 2013 company debut as Don Giovanni’s Don Ottavio to play El Remendado. Canadian Alain Gauthier, whose inventive stage direction most recently delighted Cincinnati audiences with the 2012 double bill of Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi, will direct. 

Silent Night

July 10 & 12 

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, Cincinnati Opera will present Silent Night, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Inspired by a true story and based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noël, this new American opera by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell recounts the moving tale of the Christmas truce of 1914, when combatant soldiers on the Western Front declared a brief ceasefire and celebrated the holiday together. The production, with sets by Francis O’Connor and costumes by Kärin Kopischke, was hailed as “a triumph of contemporary stagecraft” (Opera News) at its November 2011 premiere. The opera is a co-production of Minnesota Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Fort Worth Opera, and Cincinnati Opera. The company premiere of this important work is supported by a gift of $300,000 from The Marge and Charles J. Schott Foundation. 

In his Cincinnati Opera debut, Belgian Thomas Blondelle brings his “lyric, bright-voiced” tenor (Opera News) to the role of the opera singer turned soldier Nikolaus Sprink. Acclaimed for her “wide vocal compass, agile coloratura technique, and lyrical poise” (Chicago Tribune), soprano Erin Wall makes her company debut in the role of Anna Sørensen. With “an ideally clean, youthful voice” (Daily Telegraph), baritone Phillip Addis makes his Cincinnati Opera debut as Lt. Audebert. Reprising their roles from the world premiere are baritones Craig Irvin as Lt. Horstmayer, Gabriel Preisser as Lt. Gordon, and Andrew Wilkowske as Ponchel. Tenor Thomas Glenn returns to Cincinnati following his debut as Beppe in Pagliacci (2012) to sing the role of Jonathan Dale, and tenor Thomas Cooley makes his company debut as the Kronprinz. Academy Award winner Eric Simonson will direct the production. The orchestra will be led by David Charles Abell, who returns to Cincinnati Opera after conducting the company’s acclaimed 2012 production of Porgy and Bess. 

Cincinnati Opera’s production of Silent Night will be presented near the 100th anniversary of the onset of the First World War. To commemorate that conflict, which reshaped world politics and ushered in the modern era, the company will spearhead a multi-disciplinary program of educational lectures, films, exhibits, and discussions, collaborating with organizations throughout the arts, education, and cultural community from November 2013 to July 2014. 

La Calisto

July 17, 20, 23, 25 & 27m 

Cincinnati Opera presents its first-ever Baroque opera with Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto, first performed in Venice in 1651. The opera is the company’s second production to be presented in SCPA’s Corbett Theater, a state-of-the-art, 750-seat auditorium just a block away from the company’s home at Music Hall. The production, created to serve both Galileo Galilei (2013) and the 2014 presentation of La Calisto, features sets by David Centers, costumes by Rebecca Senske, and lighting by resident lighting designer Thomas Hase. 

Nathalie Paulin brings her “rich, creamy soprano” (Wall Street Journal) to the role of Calisto following her appearance as Despina in Così Fan Tutte (2007). Countertenor Michael Maniaci, who “possesses a remarkable voice that marries trumpeting high notes with a warm and supple middle voice and secure bottom” (Washington Post), makes his Cincinnati Opera debut as Endymion. Joining them in the role of Diana is mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, whose “voice seems to come out of a happy nexus of heart, soul, and brain that lends an authoritative weight to every note” (The New York Times). Soprano Alexandra Deshorties portrays Juno, having previously graced the Cincinnati Opera stage as Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte (2007). Following their June appearances in Carmen, bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch will perform the role of Jupiter, bass Nathan Stark will portray Sylvan, and tenor Aaron Blake is Pan. Returning to Cincinnati after his star turn last season as Young Galileo in Galileo Galilei is baritone Andrew Garland, who sings Mercury. Conductor David Bates will be in the pit, with Ted Huffman serving as stage director following his company debut with Galileo Galilei (2013). 

Madame Butterfly

July 24 & 26


The 94th Summer Festival closes with Giacomo Puccini’s heartbreaking tragedy Madame Butterfly in the Cincinnati Opera production by Paul Shortt last seen in 1996. Italian soprano Maria Luigia Borsi returns to Cincinnati with her “intense and delicate” voice (Opera Magazine) to sing the lead role of Cio-Cio-San. Borsi has previously sung the roles of Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi (2012) and Desdemona in Otello (2010) for the company. Shawn Mathey brings his “honeyed tenor” (Chicago Classical Review) to the role of Pinkerton following recent Cincinnati appearances as Tamino in The Magic Flute (2011) and Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte (2007). Baritone Roberto de Candia follows his “tour-de-force” (Cincinnati Enquirer) debut in the dual roles of Tonio and Gianni Schicchi in the 2012 double bill of Pagliacci and Gianni Schicchi with the role of Sharpless. Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, noted for her “dark, lustrous vocal tone” (San Francisco Chronicle), returns as Suzuki following her debut as Federico García Lorca in Ainadamar (2009). Reprising the role of Goro is character tenor Steven Cole, last seen as a cartwheeling Sporting Life in Porgy and Bess (2012). Reginald Smith, Jr. portrays The Bonze following his 2012 season debut as Frazier in Porgy and Bess. Florida Grand Opera Music Director Ramón Tebar will conduct. 

Cincinnati Opera 2014 Summer Festival

June 12-July 27


Carmen * Silent Night * La Calisto * Madame Butterfly 

Evening performances take place at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances at 3:00 p.m. All performances feature the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. 

Cincinnati Opera subscription renewals will be available in the fall. New subscriptions will go on sale in winter 2013-14, with single tickets on sale in spring 2014. For additional information, please visit or contact the Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742. 

Cincinnati Opera’s 2014 Summer Festival will take place June 12 through July 27, featuring Georges Bizet’s Carmen, Kevin Puts’s Silent Night, Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto, and Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. The season will open with Opera in the Park, a free community concert in Washington Park, on June 8. Cincinnati Opera’s 2014 season is made possible with support from ArtsWave, Ohio Arts Council, The Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund, and many generous individuals, corporations, and foundations.