Cincinnati Opera Announces 2019 Season

Music Hall
Music Hall

Evans Mirageas, The Harry T. Wilks Artistic Director of Cincinnati Opera, today announced the repertoire and casting for Cincinnati Opera’s 2019 Summer Festival, which will run from June 13 to July 28. The company’s 99th season begins with a charming production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Music Hall’s Springer Auditorium. It’s followed by the world premiere of Blind Injustice, a new opera commissioned by Cincinnati Opera with music by Scott Davenport Richards and a libretto by David Cote, based on the true stories of wrongfully convicted persons freed by the Ohio Innocence Project. The season continues with the timeless romance Romeo and Juliet by Charles Gounod at Music Hall and Richard Strauss’s comic Ariadne auf Naxos at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. The season closes with an American masterpiece, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, filled with unforgettable music and a moving story of love and perseverance on Charleston’s hardscrabble Catfish Row.



Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
Sung in Italian with projected English supertitles

Thursday, June 13, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Springer Auditorium, Music Hall

Cincinnati Opera opens the season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s masterful cat-and-mouse comedy The Marriage of Figaro in a “lavish … dream-like” (The Independent) period production from Lyric Opera of Kansas City byStephen Lawless. On the day of his wedding, the crafty servant Figaro discovers that his master, the Count, is pursuing his fiancée, Susanna. Dismayed, the clever couple enlists the help of the Countess to foil the Count’s unwelcome advances, and a head-spinning series of disguises, dupes, misunderstandings, and mistaken identities ensues.

Soprano Susanna Phillips, a regular at the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, will have her company debut in the role of the Countess, which she has previously sung at Santa Fe Opera and The Dallas Opera. AsThe New York Times enthused, “She has the purity and bloom of a Mozart lyric soprano. Yet her voice can lift phrases with penetrating sound and deep richness.” One of Opera News’s top 25 “brilliant young artists,” soprano Janai Brugger will make her company debut as Susanna after frequent appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Royal Opera Covent Garden. Baritone Joseph Lattanzi, whose “luxuriant and robust” baritone was praised by The New York Times, sings the role of Count Almaviva, following his star turn as Hawkins Fuller in Cincinnati Opera’s 2016 world premiere of Fellow Travelers. Bass-baritone Christian Pursellwill sing the role of Figaro, after Cincinnati Opera appearances in Fellow Travelers and Tosca in 2016 and The Coronation of Poppea in 2018. An Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, Pursell recently made debuts at Houston Grand Opera and Vienna State Opera. Canadian-Tunisian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb, praised for her “sheer dramatic charm and vocal clarity” (San Francisco Chronicle), makes her company debut in the pants role of the lovelorn Cherubino.

French conductor Marc Piollet returns to lead the production, after conducting Cincinnati Opera’s 2014 production of Carmen. Scenic and costume design is by Leslie Travers, with lighting design by Thomas C. Hase.

World Premiere


Music by Scott Davenport Richards

Libretto by David Cote

Sung in English

Friday, June 14, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, June 17, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Location to be announced

Blind Injustice is the third installment and the first commission from Cincinnati Opera’s latest initiative, CO Next: Diverse Voices, designed to shine a spotlight on diverse stories and artists. A collaboration with the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) and the Young Professionals Choral Collective (YPCC), the work is composed by Scott Davenport Richards with a libretto by David Cote. Stage direction and dramaturgy is by Robin Guarino.

This original performance piece is based on casework by the OIP and the book Blind Injustice by University of Cincinnati law professor and OIP Director Mark Godsey. The libretto also draws directly from interviews with six people exonerated through the efforts of the OIP: Ricky Jackson, Nancy Smith, Clarence Elkins, and the East Cleveland 3 (Derrick Wheatt, Laurese Glover, and Eugene Johnson). The opera will bring to life the grace, perseverance, and forgiveness of these men and women using a small cast, a chorus composed of YPCC members, and a 12-piece orchestra. As part of the work’s presentation, the collaborators will offer education and engagement events to further tell the story of this important work.

As an artistic examination of contemporary American society, CO Next: Diverse Voices projects intentionally deal with complex current topics of societal consequence and are intended to become a forum for informed, civil public discourse that leads to increased awareness and empathy. That discourse is prompted by real-life experiences which are at the center of each story, told truthfully and with respect for its protagonists.


Music by Charles Gounod

Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré

Sung in French with projected English supertitles

Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Springer Auditorium, Music Hall

Cincinnati Opera’s third production of the summer is Gounod’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s archetypal romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The opera tells the story of star-crossed lovers who, despite their families’ enmity, risk everything to be together—with a devastating conclusion. The production from Minnesota Opera, set in Shakespeare’s time, is “first-rate” with “opulent costumes” (Minnesota Star Tribune). Cincinnati Opera favorite Nicole Cabellwill return to sing the role of Juliet, following recent performances as Mimì in La Bohème (2017) and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus (2016). As the Financial Times said of Cabell, “A faultlessly gleaming soprano… whatever this soprano chooses to sing, her voice makes wonderful music with it.” “Warm, beaming” (New York Classical Review) Canadian tenor Frédéric Antoun stars as Romeo in his company debut after performances at Opéra de Paris, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, and the Salzburg Festival. New Zealand baritone Hadleigh Adams returns to Cincinnati Opera as Mercutio after singing Dr. Falke in the company’s Die Fledermaus (2016); Adams has garnered praise for his “compelling” acting (Opera News) and “thundering” voice (Opera).

Spanish conductor Ramón Tebar, whose work for Cincinnati Opera’s Madame Butterfly (2014) was called “glorious” by Opera News, leads the orchestra. Matthew Ozawa will make his company debut as stage director.

New Production


Music by Richard Strauss

Libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal
Sung in German with projected English supertitles

Friday, July 5, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 7, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 13, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Corbett Theater, School for Creative and Performing Arts

In Richard Strauss’s lush and comic Ariadne auf Naxos, a rich gentleman has commissioned a dramatic opera as an after-dinner treat for his guests. His staff, concerned that the opera will put the guests to sleep, brings in acommedia dell’arte troupe to enliven the entertainment. When creative tempers flare, the performance becomes a stylistic mash-up as the comedians join the action of the opera. Will the plebian instincts of the troupe be the opera’s undoing—or its saving grace? Presented for the first time in almost 60 years, Cincinnati Opera will feature a new production at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Soprano Twyla Robinson is the eponymous heroine, singing the dual role of Ariadne/Prima Donna. Robinson returns after previously starring as the matriarch Becky Felderman in the company’s 2015 world premiere of Morning Star, as well as portraying the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier (2013) and Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (2010). Kyle van Schoonhaven will bring his “steady, burnished” (The New York Times) tenor to his company debut as Bacchus/Tenor. Mezzo-soprano Olivia Vote’s “big, rich voice” (Washington Post) will suit the role of the Composer in her company debut. Following his debut with 2016’s FidelioJun Märkl returns to conduct.



Music by George Gershwin

Libretto by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin

Sung in English with projected supertitles

Saturday, July 20, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, July 26, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 28, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.

Springer Auditorium, Music Hall

For only the second time ever, Cincinnati Opera will present the great American opera The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on the Music Hall stage. Filled with recognizable tunes and a touching story of love and perseverance in adversity, it will be presented in the “vibrant” (Chicago Tribune) Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera production by Francesca Zambello.

Grammy-nominated soprano Talise Trevigne will make her company debut as Bess. In The Washington Post, Anne Midgette hailed her voice as “high and rich and round, like a vein of silver running through the night.” Trevigne has previously performed at the Glimmerglass Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, and San Francisco Opera. Bass Morris Robinson, who has been praised for his “gorgeously rich” voice (Washington Post), leads the cast as Porgy, a role he debuted at La Scala in 2016. A regular performer at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, Robinson has appeared with Cincinnati Opera as Ferrando in Il Trovatore (2015), Ramfis in Aida (2013), the Night Watchman in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (2010), and the Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlo (2009). In December 2017, Cincinnati Opera announced Robinson’s appointment as Artistic Advisor.

Soprano Janai Brugger, who opens the season as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, will sing the heartbreaking role of Clara. The menacing Crown will be portrayed by baritone Nmon Ford, who recently sang Don Pizarro in Fidelio (2016). Sporting Life will be played by the “compelling” (DC Metro Theater Arts) tenor Frederick Ballentine, Jr., who sang the Steersman in Cincinnati Opera’s The Flying Dutchman (2018). Soprano Indra Thomas, known for her “lustrous and rich voice” (The New York Times) sings the role of Serena in her company debut.

Maestro David Charles Abell returns to conduct after previously leading the orchestra for Die Fledermaus (2016), Silent Night (2014), and Porgy and Bess (2012). Set design is by Peter J. Davison, with costumes designed by Paul TazewellThomas C. Hase is the lighting designer. The scenery was originally created for Glimmerglass Festival and Seattle Opera.


Opera in the Park

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Washington Park

On Sunday, June 9, Cincinnati Opera will kick off the season with Opera in the Park, a free concert in Washington Park featuring opera and musical theater favorites performed by stars from the 2019 season, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Opera Chorus.

Community Programs

The 2018-2019 season will also include Cincinnati Opera’s signature programs, including Back to the Zoo, performances by The Opera ExpressOpera Goes to Church, and Opera Goes to Temple. Details will be announced at a future date.

Evening performances take place at 7:30 p.m., with matinee performances at 3:00 p.m. All performances feature the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. A free Opera Insights lecture is presented one hour prior to each performance.

Cincinnati Opera subscriptions will go on sale in fall 2018, with single tickets on sale in spring 2019. For additional information, please visit or contact the Cincinnati Opera Box Office at (513) 241-2742.