How can we keep from singing?
Madison Opera’s Digital Winter + Spring
Although the pandemic has made it impossible for us to gather in the Overture Center for the Arts for our planned productions of She Loves Me and The Marriage of Figaro, Madison Opera is not going silent.
Continuing the success of our Digital Fall, we are embarking on a Digital Winter + Spring season that runs through the end of May and includes the range of content that has become our (digital) signature. Cast members from our cancelled productions join a number of other Madison Opera favorite performers in sharing music, discussions, and more.
Read on for information on what we have planned so far; more projects and dates will be added as the season goes on.
Digital Winter + Spring Subscription
A Digital Winter + Spring subscription is just $75 per household and includes every program through the end of May.
Wondering how you’ll keep track of it all?
We will send subscribers an email at the beginning of each month with the tentative schedule of live-streamed events and digital releases. All content will be available to subscribers for one month from the “live” date, so you can watch at your leisure, and as often as you wish.
Our Digital Winter + Spring features a roster of favorite Madison Opera singers, including cast members from our cancelled productions of The Marriage of Figaro and She Loves Me. The current roster features:
- Andres Acosta (Fellow Travelers)
- Emily Birsan (Rusalka, Romeo & Juliet)
- David Blalock (Opera in the Park, Fidelio)
- Matt Boehler (The Abduction from the Seraglio, Don Giovanni)
- Elizabeth Caballero (Florencia en el Amazonas, Don Giovanni)
- Alan Dunbar (Fellow Travelers, The Magic Flute)
- Ben Edquist (Fellow Travelers)
- Emily Glick (A Little Night Music)
- Robert Goderich (Pagliacci, The Tales of Hoffmann)
- Jasmine Habersham (Digital Opera in the Park)
- Jeni Houser (The Tales of Hoffmann, A Little Night Music)
- Kirsten Larson (La Traviata, Rusalka)
- Cecilia Violetta López (La Traviata, Carmen)
- Sidney Outlaw (Fellow Travelers, Romeo & Juliet)
- Karen Slack (Opera in the Park, Dead Man Walking)
- Andrew Wilkowske (Fellow Travelers)
Our home in the Margaret C. Winston Madison Opera Center is perfect for some socially-distanced music-making, streamed directly with you. Our first two recitals are in February and March; the dates and artists for April and May will be announced later.
Live from the Madison Opera Center
Emily Birsan, soprano
Karl Lavine, cello
John Christensen, bass
Scott Gendel, piano
Pete Lundberg, piano
Saturday, February 13, 7:30 pm
Emily Birsan has been a favorite Madison Opera performer since she was a graduate student at U.W.-Madison, most recently singing the title role in Rusalka, Juliette in Romeo & Juliette, and at Opera in the Park. Now she returns for a special Valentine’s Weekend recital, featuring arias and songs that tell of both happy and less-happy love (it is opera, after all).
She is joined by cellist Karl Levine and pianist Scott Gendel for her classical selections, and then partners with bassist John Christensen and pianist Pete Lundberg for some American Songbook selections.
Live from the Madison Opera Center
Alan Dunbar, baritone
Scott Gendel, piano
Saturday, March 20, 7:30 pm
Alan Dunbar has sung an incredibly wide range of music at Madison Opera since his debut as Alidoro in La Cenerentola in 2012. Audiences have enjoyed him in roles ranging from Papageno in The Magic Flute to Schaunaurd in La Bohème, Owen Hart in Dead Man Walking, and Joseph McCarthy in Fellow Travelers. Now the Minnesota baritone joins us for an intimate recital of his favorite music – some by composers you know, and some that will surprise you!
Live from the Madison Opera Center
Andres Acosta, tenor
Scott Gendel, piano
Saturday, April 24, 7:30 pm
Andres Acosta was widely-acclaimed for his performance as Timothy Laughlin in Fellow Travelers with Madison Opera last season, which he followed up with beautiful performances in Digital Opera in the Park. Next season will see him return to Madison Opera in a role to be announced, as well as singing the world premiere of Snowy Day at Houston Grand Opera; workshopping the title role in The Pigeon Keeper at Santa Fe Opera, and singing Tony in West Side Story in Italy, among other engagements.
Now Andres joins us in the Madison Opera Center for a joyous recital that looks forward to the arrival of spring.
Cecilia Violetta López, soprano
Available through February 8
Since her debut with Madison Opera at Opera in the Park 2017, Cecilia Violetta López has dazzled audiences, singing Micaela in Carmen and Violetta in La Traviata. Now she brings an intimate collection of arias to you from her home state of New Mexico, with music by Donizetti, Puccini, J. Strauss II, and Giménez.
Ben Edquist, baritone
Available starting Friday, January 29
Ben Edquist broke hearts last season as Hawkins Fuller in Fellow Travelers, a few months after he debuted with us at Opera in the Park 2019. He was scheduled to sing Georg in She Loves Me with us this season. Since that is not possible, he instead shares a few numbers from his home in New York, including a song from She Loves Me, as well as arias by Mozart, Korngold, and more.
Kirsten Larson, mezzo-soprano
Available starting Friday, March 5
Join mezzo Kirsten Larson in your living room for a mini-recital featuring music by Clara Schumann, Richard Strauss, Charles Gounod, and Jacques Offenbach.
Kirsten was a Madison Opera Studio Artist for the past two seasons, singing roles including Flora in La Traviata and Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana, and was originally scheduled to sing Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro this season.
Elizabeth Caballero, soprano
Release date TBA
Elizabeth Caballero’s many roles with Madison Opera include Florencia in Florencia en el Amazonas, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and Violetta in La Traviata, and she was scheduled to return as Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro this spring.
You won’t miss her beautiful singing, though, as she will share a mini-recital of zarzuela arias, music from The Marriage of Figaro, and more.
Miss the operatic conversation? Join us online! Opera Up Close Cocktail Hour invites company members to join us for a roundtable on different aspects of opera. Subscribers can ask questions in advance and during the live stream.
Sunday, January 17: Alumni, Part 2
Cecilia Violetta López, Alan Dunbar, and Sidney Outlaw have collectively appeared in ten operas with us, from Dead Man Walking to La Traviata to Fellow Travelers; all have also sung at Opera in the Park. Now they come together for a conversation about their careers, their paths to opera, favorite performances, and so much more.
Sunday, February 28: Stage Managers
Stage managers are in charge of what happens on stage, making sure everyone and everything is in the right place at the right time. Join us for a discussion with Jill Krynicki, Madison Opera’s Production Stage Manager; Lynn Krynicki, her twin sister who is the Production Stage Manager for Washington National Opera; and Sean Corcoran, who stage manages for both companies. Find out what they do, how they trained, and more. Expect lots of great backstage stories!
Sunday, March 28: General Directors
Four opera general directors walk into a chat room…. Stepping outside the Madison Opera family, Kathryn Smith is joined by three colleagues: Michael Egel of Des Moines Metro Opera, Ashley Magnus of Chicago Opera Theater, and Lee Anne Myslewski of Wolf Trap Opera. From how they got into opera, to the ups and downs of running an opera company, their favorite productions, funniest moments, and more, it will be a unique and entertaining afternoon.
Dates and roundtables for April and May will be announced soon.
General Director Kathryn Smith continues her monthly lecture series on aspects of opera history, complete with obscure facts, amusing anecdotes, and cute pet photos to distract you. Subscribers can send in questions in advance and ask them during the live stream.
Thursday, January 21: Shakespearean Operas
Shakespeare’s plays have been made into innumerable operas. Some have entered the standard repertoire, like Gounod’s Romeo & Juliette; others, like Wagner’s version of Measure for Measure, were less successful. Kathryn will look at a variety of Shakespearean operas, from plot liberties taken to operatic conventions, and more.
Thursday, February 18: The Goddesses, Part Two
In December, Kathryn talked about some great divas of the 19th and early 20th century, from Pasta to Ponselle. Now she’ll pick it up where she left off, looking at some of the legendary singers of the first part of the 20th century, from Maria Jeritza and Amelita Galli-Curci to Kirsten Flagstad, Risë Stevens, and Marian Anderson.
Thursday, March 11: Opera Traditions Outside of Europe
When we say “opera,” we are usually referring to works from Western Europe and the U.S., whether by a 19th-century Italian composer or a 20th-century American one. Yet there is more to the world of “telling stories with music” than these works. Join Kathryn for an exploration of other operatic traditions, from Chinese opera to Argentine tango opera, Cuban zarzuelas, and more.
Dates and topics for April and May will be announced soon.
This pandemic time has brought about new creativity – within the bounds of health guidance, of course. We have some interesting ideas we’d like to play with in Digital Winter + Spring, and hope you will take a chance on us and be part of them.
GUNS N’ ROSENKAVALIER
Andrew Wilkowske, Guitar & Vocals
Lara Bolton, Keyboard & Vocals
with English lyrics by Kelley Rourke
and Musical Arrangements by John Glover
Andrew Wilkowske debuted with Madison Opera in Fellow Travelers last season and was scheduled to return for She Loves Me this winter. Since he cannot be with us in person, he is sharing with all of us a special digital project called Guns n’ Rosenkavalier.
What is Guns n’ Rosenkavalier? Andrew and his colleagues took art songs by Schubert, Brahms, and Strauss, gave them new English translations, and mixed them up with music by dozens of rock composers, from Guns n’ Roses to Madonna, Queen, and Lady Gaga. Schubert’s glorious “Wintereisse” is linked with music by Prince, The Jackson 5, and Bonnie Raitt. A “power ballad” set connects arias from La Traviata, Rigoletto, and Faust with music by Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Mötley Crüe. There is even a tribute to 1980s music videos with a mash-up of Schubert and Van Morrison.
This dazzling program includes songs you may know (and many you may not) from both the 19th and 20th century, presented in a completely new way – and all sung gloriously by Wilkowske, who also plays guitar. Lara Bolton joins him on keyboard and vocals.
Madison Opera will present the film in three parts, releasing segments on consecutive Tuesdays, starting on February 23. Each segment will be available for one month, so you can catch up whenever you have time.