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Opera Philadelphia takes the Digital Route for Festival O20

The U.S.-based opera company streams five noted productions online

Jessica Xalxo May 29, 2020

Adam Richardson, Aubrey Allicock, Lauren Whitehead, John Holiday, and Daniel Shirley in Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s 'We Shall Not Be Moved.' Photo: Dave DiRentis

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With this year’s performance season truncated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S.-based opera company Opera Philadephia is now extending its spring session online. Starring bass Kevin Burdette, soprano Kiera Duffy, baritone Theo Hoffman, countertenor John Holiday, mezzo Frederica von Stade and more, the company’s Festival O20 is streaming the digital premieres of five recent productions on YouTube and their website during the course of May.

Baritone Theo Hoffman and mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller in ‘Denis & Katya.’ Photo: Dominic M. Mercier

On the lineup are award-winning offerings such as American composer Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves and British composer Philip Venables’ Denis & Katya as well as American composer Lembit Beecher’s lauded Sky on Swings and American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain’s critically-acclaimed We Shall Not Be Moved, amongst other productions. Anchored by members of the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus, the performances aim to raise funds for the company’s next season.

Marietta Simpson and Frederica von Stade in ‘Sky on Swings.’ Photo: Steven Pisano

 “Digital Festival O(20), which premieres when we had been scheduled to gather at the Academy of Music for a live production of Madame Butterfly, celebrates the joy so many singers, musicians, composers, librettists, conductors, directors, and designers have brought into our lives through these new operas and productions, giving us an opportunity to share in the power of music and theater while reminding us that we will all gather together again in the future. It is our hope to see everyone in September at Festival O20, but until that time Festival O stands for Online,” said David B. Devan (General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia) in a statement. Having witnessed the performing arts community galvanize and organize artist relief funds through creative outlets, Devan looks forward to the day the community can gather again for the shared experience of music and art.

Soprano Kiera Duffy as Bess in Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s ‘Breaking the Waves.’ Photo: Dominic M. Mercier

The five operas will be preceded by pre-show interviews wherein artists will reveal the nuances involved in bringing these productions to the digital stage. Following each premiere, the operas will remain available on-demand for varying lengths of time till Aug 31st, 2020.

Here’s the lineup for the digital edition of Festival O20:

Denis & Katya
Music by Philip Venables | Libretto by Ted Huffman

We Shall Not Be Moved
Music by Daniel Bernard Roumain | Libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph 

The Barber of Seville
Music by Gioachino Rossini | Libretto by Cesare Sterbini 

Sky on Swings
Music by Lembit Beecher | Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch  

Breaking the Waves
Music by Missy Mazzoli | Libretto by Royce Vavrek 

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