Keeping Opera Alive and Relevant
As Pensacola Opera begins its 37th season, its mission to enrich northwest Florida by providing opera and opera-related events is unchanged, but its vision has expanded exponentially. With over forty events taking place over their season that runs from September 2019-April 2020, the highlight of the year is always the mainstage operas that take place at the start of the New Year. On January 24 & 26, 2020, Pensacola Opera will bring Mozart’s Don Giovanni to life after last performing the classic piece in 2002. “While it has been over 18 years since Pensacola Opera last presented Don Giovanni, we’re happy to report that the music has not changed at all,” states Jerome Shannon, artistic director at Pensacola Opera. “Since its premiere in 1787, Mozart’s masterpiece has continued to enchant audiences worldwide.”
Beyond the traditional music that tells the story of opera’s infamous aristocrat who will stop at nothing to challenge unrequited lust, this timeless classic will receive an incredible update never before seen on the Saenger stage. “Unlike the production of 2002 which was set in Spain in the 1780s, our new production will move the action forward to the art deco period of the 1920s and 1930s,” Shannon explains. Beyond the change in the time period, stage director Fenlon Lamb alongside her company, Papermoon Opera Productions, will be crafting unique sets and costumes just for Pensacola Opera, all created from paper. This makes all that much more of a statement when Don Giovanni’s reign of terror ends in a brilliant finale as the fires erupt and drag him down to the underworld in a final moment of justice.
Pensacola Opera will take another bold look at another classic with Verdi’s Il trovatore, March 20 & 22, 2020. Originally set in 15th century Spain, this production of will move the action forward in time, taking place during an apocalyptic, dystopian future. Created by the same team who brought us Florencia in the Amazon, stage director John Hoomes and video and lighting designer Barry Steele will incorporate brand new video and projections, utilizing the full power of these technologies in ways which are both ingenious and magical. “In the words of the great opera impresario Rudolf Bing, we must find new frames for old masterpieces,” Jerome Shannon continues. “Just as Mr. Bing, the Metropolitan Opera’s General Manager from 1950-1972, realized the need to continually freshen up the act, so do we realize that the expectations of our audiences have changed and the performing arts are changing with them.”
Pensacola Opera is Talent-Driven
During every Pensacola Opera performance at the Saenger Theatre, there are more than 100 artists working toward the common goal of bringing professional opera to Pensacola. Guest soloists with national and international credits join with members of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the Pensacola Opera Chorus, and the talented crew of the Pensacola Saenger Theatre in order to create a once in a lifetime experience—perfect for the long-time opera-lover and the newcomer alike.
In order to maintain the professional level of the major performances, and to continue to expand its outreach programs, Pensacola Opera continues its Artists in Residence program, now in its 17th year, which brings four professionally trained young singers and one pianist to Pensacola each year for the full season. In addition to appearing in the two major performances, these artists bring a new level of talent to the community, and in turn are able to bolster their own credentials and experience. “Having the young artists with us throughout our season allows us to provide opera to the Gulf Coast all season long,” says Director of Marketing, Molly Williams. “From free school shows to our annual social events, we try to give everyone access to hear opera, and in return, our artists get to experience the arts-loving community here in Pensacola.”
The staff and volunteers at Pensacola Opera all agree on the overriding goal for the company. “We are passionate about keeping opera alive and relevant, and making sure it plays a major role in preserving and enriching the culture of Northwest Florida.”
Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale now for the upcoming season with single tickets starting at just $25. Subscribers also receive perks for joining the opera for these two performances, including free parking in downtown Pensacola, discounts on additional single tickets, and early access to events throughout the season. Learn more at PensacolaOpera.com or by calling the box office at (850) 433-6737.