We’re at the halfway point of the audition tour (10 days down, 10 to go), and certain operas in the future repertoire database are beginning to edge out others. Of course, anything can change (and does…) right up until the last day of the auditions. (Last year’s casts for our Verdi operas came together on the last two days of the tour.) But at this point, we begin to narrow our rep focus, based on inspiration from the singers we’ve heard so far and the voice types on the lists for the upcoming 10 days. We started the tour with 32 operas on the list, and now, we’re spending more time with these 14:
Britten: The Rape of Lucretia – Hasn’t been at The Barns in 26(!) years. Nice vocal distribution, with 6 nicely featured roles. Chamber orchestra fits comfortably in our small pit. Downside? No ensemble to showcase our Studio Artists.
Gassmann: L’Opera Seria – This one surfaced a couple of years ago, and it’s working its way up the rep possibilities ladder. A satirical take on the opera seria tradition, written by Leopold Gassmann, a Viennese composer a generation older than Mozart. Downside? It’s a sprawling, large-cast vehicle, probably not ideal in the wake of last season’s Viaggio a Reims.
Gluck: L’île de Merlin – One of the few Gluck operas whose orchestration will fit in our pit. 7 featured roles. Downside: Nothing for Studio. And French dialogue.
The Handel Parade (brought to you courtesy of the disproportionately large and excellent group of countertenors and mezzos we’re hearing) – Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare, Agrippina, Acis & Galatea, Flavio, Orlando. Currently teasing out how the vocal distribution of a bunch of these titles best intersects with potential casting.
Keiser – The Fortunes of King Croesus – German baroque. Amazing array of voice types (3 sopranos, 1 mezzo, 1 countertenor, 3 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses) Downside? Daunting array of voice types, sprawling cast…
Mozart: The Abduction from the Seraglio – Absent from The Barns since 1998. Amazing piece. 5 fabulous roles. Great chorus. Downside? Requires finding the right people in two rare voice types (dramatic coloratura soprano and basso profondo), a speaking role, and no mezzo or baritone representation.
Mozart: Lucio Silla – The only one of Mozart’s “mature” operas that we haven’t ever done. Requiring virtuoso opera seria work from sopranos, mezzos/countertenors and tenor. Political intrigue-based plot a natural fit for D.C. :) Downside: hard to justify including an opera with absolutely no low voices in a year in which they are well represented on the audition tour.
Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro – Ooh, wouldn’t it be nice to do a new Figaro at The Barns? Since 1986(!) we have only done it at the Filene Center. Downside: Only top-ten-type operas can sell in the big amphitheatre, and we usually reserve Figaro for that space…
Paisiello: Il Re Teodoro in Venezia – King Ted is an annual audition tour companion who will never make the cut, but we’d miss him if he weren’t along. He comforts me.
Poulenc: Les mamelles de Tirésias – I don’t think this has been done in our region in recent years, and it’s been enticing us for a while. Challenge? The orchestra almost fits in our pit… and at only an hour long, it needs a double-bill companion, and we haven’t found the right one.
What will we program for 2014? Is there a chance it’s not even on this list? A small chance, but yes. The roller coaster ride isn’t over yet.