The 2021-22 Toledo Opera season brings everything you’d expect from a local treasure: two Giuseppe Verdi operas with Metropolitan Opera stars in the leading roles, plus a new, groundbreaking production highlighting today’s most prominent social issues.
The Opera this year will showcase many of the things learned during the pandemic. “It’s been 15 months since we were on stage,” said Suzanne Rorick, Opera Executive Director. “We’ve had 14 performances in the community, and many other activities, but we need to get back on stage.”
Continuing community outreach
During their time away from live performances, the Opera’s 15-member advisory committee has “focused on the things that we could do,” according to Rorick, and found ways to continue popular activities and performances. The Opera on Wheels programs were recorded and used by 60 area schools over the past year. Several virtual operas were also presented, and artists made a variety of stops around the area (including performing the national anthem at a Mud Hens game this spring).
“Our new Opera Outdoors performance series was very well received when we launched last fall,” said Jim Norman, Toledo Opera’s Director of artistic administration and productions. The pop-up live performances continued this spring and will begin again in August. The Opera’s 2021-22 Resident Artists – Grace Wipfli, Katherine Kincaid, Fran Daniel Laucerica, Andrew Payne and Mercy Olson – will be featured at locations around the city.
In May, the Opera Gala finally brought supporters and artists together in person. “I really didn’t want to have to cancel this, because we all needed this shared experience,” Rorick said. “We sold out, and our guests all said how thankful they were to get out and hear the performances. And our artist Alyson Cambridge ended her performance by thanking everyone for letting her sing for them!”
Opera on Wheels will return this season, from October 19 through November 19, and then from April 25 though May 27, 2022. Opera troupe members performed as part of Juneteenth celebrations in June and will be a part of the Solheim Cup festivities in late August.
Planning a legendary
“Even though we had to cancel the 2020 season, we didn’t lay off any employees, and we honored our contracts with performers,” said Rorick. The 2021-22 season was already scheduled and promises three incredible performances. Ticket sales are open and going very well, according to Norman. (Visit www.toledoopera.org for information.
- Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” October 8 (7:30 p.m.) and October 10 (2:00 p.m.) at the Valentine Theatre Starring Metropolitan Opera Soprano Jennifer Rowley as Leonora, “Il Trovatore” returns to Toledo for the first time since 2008. This story of sorcery, familiar revenge, bitter rivalry and forbidden love also stars Carl Tanner as Manrico.
- “Blue,” by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson, February 11 (7:30 p.m.) and February 13 (2:00 p.m.), 2022 at the Valentine Theatre – Named best new opera by the Music Critics Association of North America, “Blue” was introduced shortly before the pandemic. As a result, the Toledo Opera’s performance will be one of the earliest of this riveting story of an African American couple in Harlem. Librettist Tazewell Thompson is stage director for this National Endowment for the Arts-supported performance. And community activities related to the opera’s topics will be scheduled in conjunction with the performances.
- Verdi’s “La Traviata,” April 22 (7:30 p.m.) and April 24 (2:00 p.m.), 2022 at the Valentine Theatre – This classic operatic tragedy stars Metropolitan Opera soprano Kathryn Lewek as Violetta, in her role debut, and Zach Borichevsky as Alfredo. This real-life couple will bring a special intensity to this