Toledo Opera offers beacon of hope

Published Thursday, March 26, 2020
by Wayne F. Anthony

In what they have offered as a ray of optimism and hope for a future without the fear of the coronavirus, the Toledo Opera released the details of its 2020-21 62nd season this week. Executive Director Suzanne Rorick said, “Over the course of 62 years, Toledo Opera has weathered may storms. I have every confidence that, together with our audience’s continued support and encouragement, we will weather this one too.”

Understanding the ebb and flow of the artistic times, the organization has chosen to scale back its season financially without shorting the high aesthetic standards for which it has become known the past few seasons. In the offing will be two major productions rather than three, and a gala celebration of the resident musical ensemble.

The season opens with the grandest of all grand operas, Verdi’s Aida, slated for Oct. 2 and 4 at the Valentine Theatre. Metropolitan Opera soprano Jennifer Rowley stars in the title role with tenor Carl Tanner as Radamès. The all-new production is directed by Jeffrey Buchman, who pulled a double coup the past two seasons with outstanding stagings of Carmen and La BohémeDean Williamson conducts.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the timelessly effervescent operetta, Lehar’s The Merry Widow, will grace the Valentine Stage on Feb. 12 and 14. This work that won Beverly Sills her place in the halls of opera history was last performed in Toledo in 1990.

Alyson Cambridge headlines as the merry widow with BGSU voice professor Keith Phares foiling as Count Danilo. University of Toledo graduate J. Ernest Green conducts, while Toledo Opera’s own James M. Norman handles the stage direction.

For the third event, in a tribute to their timeless contributions, the Toledo Opera Chorus is celebrated in the Grand Tour, an evening of great opera choruses. Director of Artistic Administration and Music Preparation Kevin Bylsma will conduct. Soloists featured include soprano Jill Gardner, tenor Jesse Donner, and baritone Corey Crider in highlights from Bizet, Verdi, Puccini, Bernstein, Wagner, and more.

Finally, a special highlight to the season will be the annual Opera Gala which features soprano Cambridge in a solo evening accompanied by Bylsma. After taking Toledo audiences by storm in last season’s Carmen, she went on to critically-acclaimed performances at the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The event happens Oct. 23 at the Toledo Club, 235 14th St.

The Toledo Opera on Wheels program continues bringing live music to area students as well with two mobile productions: Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance and Figaro’s Playground, a melding of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro with Cosi fan Tutte.

Season subscriptions are on sale now beginning at $98, the same price as last season. Tickets for individual performances are available beginning July 2. Further information on all events at 419-255-7464 or toledoopera.org.

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