Menotti’s “Consul,” Puccini and Mozart favorites on tap in FGO’s 2014-15 season

By Lawrence A. Johnson

FGO will present Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers" in the Sarasota Opera production (above) in  2014-15 season. PHoto: Deb Hesser

FGO will present Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” in the Sarasota Opera production (above) in its 2014-15 season. Photo: Deb Hesser

Florida Grand Opera will serve up Mozart and Puccini favorites in its 2014-15 season alongside an exotic French opera and the local premiere of an acclaimed American work.

“I am pleased to present a season that will elucidate a lesser-known masterpiece, bring the drama of a great 20th-century work to our stage, and present timeless classics in a new way,” said Susan T. Danis, FGO general director.

Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Consul will be heard in its South Florida premiere, opening May 9, 2015. Written in 1950 at the height of the Cold War, the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera concerns a family of dissidents who become entangled in bureaucratic red tape as they try to escape an authoritarian government.

Despite the somber storyline, Menotti’s opera is replete with moments of breakout lyricism including Magda’s soaring Act 2 aria, “To this we’ve come.”

Danis says she thinks the scenario of a police state bureaucracy and its tragic effect on a family “will resonate with many different communities of South Florida.” Mounting Menotti’s opera, she adds, “continues our commitment to the presentation of 20th- and 21st-century works.”

The season will open November 15 with Puccini’s beloved tear-jerker, Madama Butterfly. Mozart’s mate-swapping comedy, Cosi fan tutte, will follow, starting January 24.

Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, with its love triangle set in a sea village in Ceylon, will be presented beginning February 28, in the acclaimed Sarasota Opera production.

All casting and other production details are to be announced at a later date.

The Tristan und Isolde announced for this season and then rescheduled for next season has now been put off indefinitely, says Danis, due to the expense involved, which is more than the company can currently afford.

“Unfortunately we are not able to present Tristan and Isolde this year, “ she said. “The Wagnerians and I am truly disappointed.  But at this time FGO cannot harbor the resources to afford the proper orchestra time and great singers.”

Danis says she is still hoping to present Wagner’s epic love story in a future season with the aid of financial support from a “rabid Wagnerian in South Florida to help us make it happen.”

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4 Responses to “Menotti’s “Consul,” Puccini and Mozart favorites on tap in FGO’s 2014-15 season”

  1. Posted Mar 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm by Wolfgang

    Well, the excitement was very short lived, indeed Yawn! Boring season in every respect, at least in my opinion. I’m thoroughly convinced now that fgo is destined to forever be a middling regional company.

  2. Posted Mar 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm by Dave R.

    Wolfgang: That might be true, and I’m not going to say that next season sounds exciting, but if FGO is “destined to forever be a middling regional company,” whose fault is that? It sounds to me like Susan Danis is doing everything in her power to raise FGO above that status, but how can she do so if 1.) People don’t want to buy tickets; and 2.) She can’t get the financial support she needs, which I suspect might be the case.

    Seems to me that what she’s trying to do is balance the adventurous programming–The Consul–with some traditional programming in order to keep FGO from going belly up on a program of adventurous works. I loved Mourning Becomes Electra this season and saw it twice, but the number of empty seats and the amount of people who left at intermission tells me I’m in the minority.

    The quality of the productions, singing and orchestra have improved under Ms. Danis. Perhaps FGO can become something like Opera Theatre of St. Louis. I’d be okay with that.

    San Diego Opera just announced that it’s closing up. The late announcement of FGO’s season had me concerned that they might be going belly up, too. I guess we all have to decide–and I count myself among the people who will be deciding–if a middling regional company is worth supporting. It’ll be interesting to see the casting for next season.

  3. Posted Mar 26, 2014 at 11:26 am by Jung

    At this point, whatever they can do to stay alive in the Opera World is okay. IMHO announcing T and I last year was a mistake. Half the audience was shocked and abhored. This audience wants la-la-la, um-pa-pa and high notes. Out in 1-1/2 hours. Period.

  4. Posted Mar 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm by Layla

    Thank you, Dave R., for putting things into perspective. Obviously, there is a rather small crowd of opera-goers here in SoFla who have a more educated palate, but sadly, this is the exception rather than the rule.

    Yes, we would all love to see the company expand its horizons and do more works that are challenging and exciting. But this cannot be achieved with the current environment we find ourselves in. Rather than try to bash the company and Ms. Danis for playing it safe, I elect to try to support FGO, so that we all might continue to have this company in our backyard.

    Not all of us can make it to the MET or Chicago Lyric on a regular basis. And I believe any opera-goer would agree that screenings are nice but nothing beats the experience of hearing it live. I for one believe that there have been noticeable improvements since Ms. Danis’s arrival, and I think that it takes more than one season to build up a company.

    If perhaps she overestimated support for Tristan und Isolde, it was a mistake made with all the best intentions. I regret that it is not on the list for next year either but sincerely hope that she will not give up on us yet and hopefully drag the more conventional crowd, albeit kicking and screaming, into a more profound understanding of what opera can be.

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Tue Mar 25, 2014
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