As economy dives, Florida Grand Opera plays it even safer in 2009-2010

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Florida Grand Opera’s 69th season is not exactly one to strike a blow for adventurous programming.  The company has already announced it is going from five productions to four, as part of a thirty percent slice in its $14 million annual budget.  Also, like many companies across the country that have seen a sharp decrease in donor gifts and, are fearful of declining subscriptions following suit, FGO is playing it safe with popular repertoire, even more than has been the case in recent years. .

 The season will open Nov. 14 with Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, paired not with Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana as usual, but Puccini’s Suor Angelica, the single programming novelty of the season.  Soprano Kelly Kaduce, will perform the roles of Nedda and Angelica in all performances. Jay Hunter Morris is Canio and Mark Rucker, Tonio. FGO resident conductor Andrew Bisantz will conduct.

 Miami favorite Eglise Gutierrez, who made her company debut earlier this season in La Traviata will return to sing the role of the doomed title heroine in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, opening Jan. 23. The tenor is yet to be announced.

 Rossini’s The Barber of Seville will follow, opening Feb. 20 with soprano Sarah Coburn, baritone Roderick Williams and tenor Frederic Antoun who made an impressive Florida debut last month in La Cenerentola. The season will close with Bizet’s Carmen opening April 24 with Kendall Gladen in the title role. Miami native Elaine Alvarez will make her belated debut in the role of Micaela, and tenor Adam Diegel will portray Don Jose.

 With Stewart Robertson departing the company in May, conductors for three of next season’s four operas are yet to be announced. In another cost-saving move, a single team will do the production work for all four operas: stage director Renaud Doucet and set and costume designer André Barbe, whose last FGO assignment was staging the ill-fated Szulamit in 2004.

 The company is offering a four-opera subscription for the price of three, from $32 to $752. Call 800-741-1010 or go online to

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Sat Feb 28, 2009
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