25 September 2012

San Francisco to Premiere ‘Dodger’ Opera in 2013

Consider Yourself:
Joyce DiDonato stars as the Artful Dodger.

SAN FRANCISCO -- An operatic sequel to the hit Lionel Bart musical Oliver! will have its premiere at San Francisco Opera next season, David Gockley, the company’s general director, today announced, featuring mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as a grownup Artful Dodger.

Oliver! Part II: The Dodgering resumes the tale of plucky Victorian orphans some 20 years after the musical ends. The Artful Dodger is now a successful London pimp, but when he is mistaken for Jack the Ripper, he turns to his old friend Oliver for help. Now a wealthy barrister in Bloomsbury, Oliver must decide whether to risk his social standing in order to save the Dodger from the hangman’s noose.

“Obviously there’s a certain element of Brechtian thematic material here,” Gockley said. “That’s only natural, since Brecht was influenced by Dickens when writing Threepenny Opera, and the Dodger has always been a kind of pubescent Mack the Knife.”

Famed French couturier Christian Lacroix will design costumes. Joining DiDonato onstage will be countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo as Oliver. “He’s the only singer we could find with notes high enough to manage a reprise of ‘Where Is Love?’” Gockley said.

No composer or librettist has signed on to the project, scheduled to open in November 2013. “These things will work themselves out in the end,” Gockley said. “They always do.”

Lacroix, sweetie.

Seriously, the photo above shows Joyce in costume as Romeo in I Capuleti ed i Montecchi, Vincenzo Bellini’s recounting of the Romeo and Juliet story. The luscious Nicole Cabell stars as Giulietta, and rising Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu sings Tebaldo (that’s Tybalt, to you Shakespeare fans), in a staging by Vincent Broussard. Riccardo Frizza conducts performances beginning September 29 through October 19.

Joyce is so good in the role of Romeo — which I was lucky enough to hear her sing in Paris a couple of years ago — that I’m going nuts trying to figure out how to get to San Francisco to hear her again. Besides, Nicole is going to nail Giulietta’s entrance aria, “O, quante volte.”

For more information, go to San Francisco Opera’s website, here. (They company is promoting the opera as The Capulets and the Montagues, but who wants to deny herself the satisfaction of pronouncing the Italian title?)

Joyce as Romeo in Robert Carsen’s staging for Paris.
In Bellini’s telling, the family feud is tied up in the larger political struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. This makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.

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