November 13, 2019
Opera Philadelphia is proud to present Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem this winter, not only as part of a season celebrating the 20th anniversary of the company debut of Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris, but also in memory of Jack Mulroney himself, who was instrumental in bringing Rovaris – already well-established at leading houses and festivals in his native Italy – to Philadelphia.
Verdi’s immortal setting of the Roman Catholic mass for the dead, called “a conductor’s dream come true” by NPR, features soloists Leah Crocetto, Daniela Mack, Evan LeRoy Johnson, and In-Sung Sim, along with more than 80 instrumentalists and 100 choristers, and will be performed onstage at the Academy of Music (Jan 31, Feb 2).
Since making his house debut in 1999, and subsequently becoming the company’s first Music Director in 2005 during its 30th anniversary season, Rovaris has “presided over a striking evolution at Opera Philadelphia” (Opera News), playing a key part in establishing the company as “one of American opera’s success stories” (New York Times). Under his auspices, Opera Philadelphia has launched a number of key recent initiatives, including the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera, founded in 2008, a robust new works practice beginning in 2011, and Festival O, launched in 2017. A two-week immersion featuring multiple world premieres and other operatic happenings at a variety of venues across the city, O17 was hailed as “one of the most enjoyable additions to the fall calendar in years” (Washington Post).
The season-long spotlight on the conductor to celebrate the milestone 20th anniversary of his debut began in September, during O19, when he conducted the company premiere of Prokofiev’s comedic gem The Love for Three Oranges, before being honored at the Festival O19 Celebration, which featured a solo recital by Brenda Rae. Later in the spring, Rovaris will helm a production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. In between those engagements, he takes the podium for another iconic piece by one of his most distinguished compatriots: Verdi’s Requiem. The Music Director elaborated on the special significance of this work:
“I used to be the chorus master at La Scala, and Verdi’s Requiem was written for the La Scala chorus. We used to perform it in the San Marco church in Milan, where it was performed for the first time, so it will always have a special place in my heart. The fact that now we can perform it here in Philadelphia, with my chorus and orchestra, is very, very moving to me. And it’s very rewarding for the orchestra and chorus to work on something so important in the history of music.”
Three of the four stellar soloists joining Rovaris for the Requiem are returning favorites from previous Opera Philadelphia productions. Soprano Leah Crocetto, who sang Élisabeth de Valois in 2015’s Don Carlo, has been praised by the New York Times for her “agile coloratura technique and a feeling for the Italianate style.” Mezzo Daniela Mack, seen most recently as Juno/Ino in O19’s Semele, also starred in the title roles of Carmen in 2018 and Elizabeth Cree during the acclaimed Festival O17. Evan LeRoy Johnson, whose “bright, radiant tenor … makes you pay attention” (BR Klassik, Germany), starred as Rodolfo in 2019’s La bohème and as Don José opposite Mack in 2018’s Carmen. Making his company debut is South Korean bass In-Sung Sim, who has been lauded for his “deep bass and unstoppable dramatic sense” (Opera Online).
These performances of the Verdi Requiem are presented in honor of Opera Philadelphia’s longtime chairman Jack Mulroney, who died in 2004 and in whose name Rovaris’s position is endowed. As an article about Mulroney in the Festival O19 Celebration program put it:
“As the Jack Mulroney Music Director, Corrado’s position is named in honor of Opera Philadelphia’s much-loved late Board President, Chairman, and Executive Director. The Opera enjoyed 19 years under Jack’s leadership. … Perhaps his greatest legacy was his instrumental role in convincing Corrado to accept the position of Music Director and move his family to Philadelphia. Corrado remembers Jack saying, ‘You are going to take care of my opera company, and I’m going to take care of your family, and that’s the deal.’ Indeed, this sentiment is still remembered today – not only by Corrado, but also by Jack’s beloved wife of 46 years, Agnes. Agnes remains a Board member at the Opera, and in an act of profound generosity, has underwritten Corrado’s engagement as the Jack Mulroney Music Director.”
About Opera Philadelphia
Opera Philadelphia, the only American finalist for the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company, is “the very model of a modern opera company” (Washington Post). Committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century, the company has commissioned and co-commissioned a number of important new operas, including Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell’s Silent Night, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music; Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer’s Cold Mountain, winner of the 2016 International Opera Award for Best World Premiere; Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves, winner of the Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA)’s 2017 Best New Opera Award; Daniel Bernard Roumain and Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s We Shall Not Be Moved, named one of the New York Times’s “Best Classical Music Performances of 2017”; and David Hertzberg’s The Wake World, winner of MCANA’s 2018 Best New Opera Award. Philip Venables and Ted Huffman’s Denis & Katya, which premiered at O19 to critical acclaim, was the recipient of the 2019 FEDORA-GENERALI Prize for Opera, further cementing Opera Philadelphia’s status as “a hotbed of operatic innovation” (New York Times) that represents “one of North America’s premiere generators of valid new operas” (Opera News). For more information, visit operaphila.org.
To download high-resolution photos, click here.
Jan 31 & Feb 2, 2020
Academy of Music
Performed in Latin
With soloists: Leah Crocetto, soprano; Daniela Mack, mezzo-soprano; Evan LeRoy Johnson, tenor; In-Sung Sim, bass
Opera Philadelphia Orchestra and Chorus
Corrado Rovaris, conductor
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© 21C Media Group, November 2019