This Weekend, Susan Graham Makes Title Role Debut in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

 

May 21, 2018

On Saturday, May 26, Grammy Award-winning mezzo Susan Graham – “an artist to treasure” (New York Times) – makes her title role debut in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She will be joined by veteran bass-baritone James Morris, Broadway and television actor Ron Raines, and award-winning soprano Susanna Phillips in a new production by Artistic Director James Robinson, with Music Director Emeritus Stephen Lord leading from the pit (May 26–June 24). The engagement marks the 30th anniversary of Graham’s house debut; it was in 1988 that she sang Erika, her first professional leading role, in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, another mid-20th-century American classic.

As Graham told Opera magazine: “Adding a new role is so exciting! It’s always good to sing in one’s mother tongue. There’s a special joy in that.” The mezzo is justly celebrated for her way with homegrown fare. She created leading roles in the world premiere productions of American operas Dead Man Walking, The Great Gatsby, and An American Tragedy, and earlier this spring, her star turn as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti proved “the high point” of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s star-studded celebration of the Bernstein centennial. The Chicago Tribune reported:

“Graham brought off [the title song] hilariously well. The charismatic mezzo-soprano made Dinah truly touching through the warmth of her singing and her subtle way with Lenny’s lyrics.”

Bernstein’s one-act opera is dedicated to Marc Blitzstein, who composed his own opera Regina just four years earlier, and the two works have often been likened to one another in terms of style. Where Trouble in Tahiti offers a satire on suburban marriage, however, Regina makes a strong statement against financial greed, depicting struggles of class, gender, and morality within one Southern family in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Adapted from Lillian Hellman’s groundbreaking play The Little Foxes, Regina is as demanding dramatically as musically; its scheming but fascinating heroine has been portrayed by such icons of stage and screen as Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, and Elizabeth Taylor. Graham found herself especially drawn to the role; she told Opera magazine:

“She’s so bad! I’m always playing the boy next door, and don’t usually get to do juicy parts like this. Well, Didon and Iphigénie are pretty juicy, it’s true, but they are not inherently bad like Regina Giddens is. … She’s gracious in a way, yet manipulative. She has a very dubious moral compass. … She’s great operatic fodder.”

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Susan Graham: upcoming engagements

May 26, 31; June 6, 8, 16, 20, 24
St. Louis, MO
Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
Stephen Lord, conductor
Marc Blitzstein: Regina (Regina; title role debut)

July 29
Katonah, NY
Caramoor Music Festival
Season-closing concert
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Bernard Labadie
Handel: selections from Ariodante and Alcina
Mozart: selections from Le nozze di Figaro and La clemenza di Tito 

Aug 24
Lenox, MA
Tanglewood
Tanglewood Festival Chorus & Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons
Mahler: Symphony No. 3 

Aug 25
Lenox, MA
Tanglewood
“Bernstein Centennial Celebration at Tanglewood”
Tanglewood Festival Chorus & Boston Symphony Orchestra / Andris Nelsons, Christoph Eschenbach, Keith Lockhart, Michael Tilson Thomas, John Williams
(With Audra McDonald, host and vocalist; Midori, violin; Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Kian Soltani, cello; Nadine Sierra, Isabel Leonard, Thomas Hampson, Jessica Vosk and Tony Yazbeck, vocalists; and James Darrah, director)

 

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© 21C Media Group, May 2018

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This Weekend, Susan Graham Makes Title Role Debut in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

On Saturday, May 26, Grammy Award-winning mezzo Susan Graham – “an artist to treasure” (New York Times) – makes her title role debut in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Read More

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