Fantasy Opera

I’m in charge now.

What would you program if you ran an opera house? Lisa Hirsch came up with the idea of a “Fantasy Opera Season,” Mark Berry and Gavin Plumley are new intendants as well. I would happily subscribe to them all of their seasons with the exception that you could not pay me to see Pfitzner’s Palestrina. Here’s my program. My theater is around the size of the Opernhaus Zürich (so the Baroque operas would work), but with better sight lines.

The first season is a wish-fulfillment selection of operas I really would like to see together, most of which are in or around the edges of the popular repertory. It starts off modestly but goes out with a bang, making me suspect that my taste runs towards Really Big Operas. My opera house clearly has a Really Big Budget, too. The order is intentional; I tried to juxtapose the repertory in a thought-provoking way and suggested who I would hire to direct some of the productions. The second season avoids popular operas entirely in favor of relative obscurities that I have never seen staged live and think should be better-known, is not listed in any particular order (except for Lully and Strauss), and contains considerably more comedy.

Season 1
Mozart, La finta giardiniera (dir. Laurent Pelly)
Strauss, Arabella (dir. Claus Guth)
Janáček, The Makropulos Case (dir. Harry Kupfer)
Verdi, La forza del destino (dir. Stefan Herheim)
Ravel, L’Enfant et les sortilèges/Benjamin, Into the Little Hill (dir. Martin Kusej)
Wagner, Lohengrin
Rameau, Les Paladins (dir. Jonathan Kent)
Borodin, Prince Igor
Puccini, Turandot (dir. Calixto Bieito)
Handel, Rodelinda Rinaldo (changed my mind here)
Cavalli, La Didone
Berlioz, Les Troyens
Verdi, Don Carlos (French version)

Season 2
Reimann, Lear
Schreker, Der Schatzgräber
Rossini, Il viaggio a Reims
Flotow, Martha
Donizetti, Dom Sébastien
Rimsky-Korsakov, The Tsar’s Bride
Lully, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme
Strauss, Ariadne auf Naxos (1912 version)
Mascagni, L’Amico Fritz
Gluck, Iphigénie en Aulide
Moniuszko, The Haunted Manor
Vivaldi, Griselda

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  1. I love the Ravel/Benjamin coupling: apt in so many ways, likewise the choice of director. You may be interested to hear, if you did not know already, that Covent Garden is staging 'The Tsar's Bride' in April.

  2. Thanks!! It's such a fun idea. I'm glad Tsar's Bride is getting onstage somewhere. I tried to avoid repeating with either of your lists–I swapped Khovanshchina for Prince Igor and Armide for Iphigénie en Aulide–but I had to put on L'Enfant and Into the Little Hill, they're both so good and I think they would be good together (and very very creepy).

    Also, damn, I should have some Prokofiev in there. Forgot him somehow.

  3. Les Troyens seems to be on everyone's list (very near the top of mine).. PLEASE let's have it more in real (rather than virtual) opera houses! I'll probably go to every night when the production hits Covent Garden – though, by 2012, prices might have hit a £zillion for a standing ticket.

  4. Anon, I'd love to see Les Troyens again (both parts in the same night) because the one production I've gone to, here in Los Angeles, was horrible, regie theater at its worst.

  5. YES MORE TROYENS PLEASE. Everyone needs to repeat this in the presence of intendants as often as possible. It's cheaper than the Ring!

    Like your list, Evan!

  6. A triple bill I'd love to see spread out over an afternoon:

    Hindemith – The Harmony Of The World

    Honneger – Antigone

    Sessions – Montezuma

    Followed by Pfitzner's The Rose Of The Love Garden the next evening.