FGO’s 82nd Season Serves a Cocktail of Lyrical Romance and Realism with a Trio of Favorites
Miami and Fort Lauderdale, FL — March 18, 2023. Florida Grand Opera announces its 82nd consecutive season featuring three of the lyric stage’s most popular titles. United by the universal appeal of their very different scores, grounded in the lives of real people, and steeped in romance both gritty and glittery, this trio of tales takes audiences from the elite salons of Paris to dusty Sicilian towns, and returning to Paris’ chilly garrets.
The 2023–24 season kicks off with Giuseppe Verdi and Francesco Maria Piave’s La traviata, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Alexandre Dumas, fils, La dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias). In Verdi’s version, Violetta Valéry is a renowned Parisian courtesan who attempts to deny her ongoing battle with tuberculosis as she determinedly pursues her trade amid extravagant revelries. When young Alfredo Germont declares his love for her, however, she cannot resist, and abandons her career in favor of a quiet country life with him. The lovers’ idyll is interrupted when Alfredo’s father shows up to demand that they separate for the sake of his young daughter, as the family’s reputation is tarnished by Alfredo’s association with a fallen woman. Violetta nobly agrees to the sacrifice, but realizing that there is only one way Alfredo would leave her, pretends that she no longer loves him and returns to her old life. Hurt, humiliated, and incensed, Alfredo publicly denounces her and challenges her new protector to a duel. Only when Violetta lies on her deathbed do he and his father return to reconcile with her, and she dies in Alfredo’s arms. The opera is stuffed with Verdi’s trademark memorable melodies, from Violetta’s sparkling “Sempre libera” to Germont’s pleading “Di Provenza”, to the gentle and heartbreaking love duet “Parigi o cara.” La traviata plays November 11, 12, and 14 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and November 30 and December 2 at the Broward Performing Arts Center. Ecuadoran stage director Chía Patiño makes her FGO debut and conductor Joe Illick, former Interim Artistic Director of FGO’s predecessor Greater Miami Opera, returns to the FGO podium for the first time since 1993.
I pagliacci (The Clowns) is another tale rooted in reality, this time from composer/librettist Ruggero Leoncavallo’s childhood. His father, a magistrate, presided over a murder case which involved an actor murdering his unfaithful wife on stage during a performance, or a squabble over a village girl in which a Leoncavallo family servant was killed (depending on which story one believes). In any case, Leoncavallo skillfully weaves a tale of a traveling commedia dell’arte company in which Nedda, the lovely young wife of troupe leader Canio, is unhappy with her lot and planning to leave with her lover, Silvio. When she rejects the advances of another actor, Tonio, he exacts revenge by revealing her infidelity to the jealous and temperamental Canio. Now comes perhaps the most famous tenor aria in the repertoire: the incomparable “Vesti la giubba”, in which Canio paints on his clown makeup as he mourns Nedda’s disloyalty. He then stabs her to death on stage during the performance, killing Silvio as he rushes to her aid, and turns to the traumatized audience with the dramatic declaration, “La commedia é a (The comedy is ended!).” This robust score is also notable for Tonio’s seemingly light-hearted Prologue, Nedda’s yearning aria “Stridono lassú”, and her impassioned love duet with Silvio. I pagliacci runs January 27, 28, and 30 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and February 8 and 10 at the Broward Performing Arts Center. FGO dream team, stage director Jeffrey Marc Buchman and conductor Gregory Buchalter, once again join forces to guide the production’s artistic direction.
Giacomo Puccini, Luigi Illica, and Giuseppe Giacosa teamed up to write the perennial favorite La bohème, based on a set of loosely connected stories by Henri Murger entitled Scènes de la vie de bohème. Illica and Giacosa wove the threads of Murger’s stories into a central tapestry focusing on the lives of young artists struggling to make ends meet in Paris’ Quartier Latin. On Christmas Eve, Rodolfo, a poet, falls in love with a fragile young seamstress named Mimì. That same evening, amid the revelry, his best friend and roommate Marcello, a painter, reunites with his ex-girlfriend Musetta. At last, the luck of the Bohemians seems to have turned; but a few months later, all four lovers are squabbling. Rodolfo hides his anguish over Mimì’s worsening illness behind jealousy, and Marcello is genuinely angry over Musetta’s flirtatiousness. The two couples quarrel, and Marcello and Musetta break up again, while Rodolfo and Mimì plan to stay together at least for a while. Come spring, the men are irritable and lonely without their girlfriends, who have both found wealthy protectors. A romp with their roommates lightens the mood until Musetta bursts in with the news that Mimì is at the bottom of the stairs, too weak to climb up. The friends and lovers are all reunited, but it’s too late for Mimì, who is dying of tuberculosis. She passes away peacefully as the Bohemians mourn. Puccini’s romantic score gorgeously elevates the realistic and relatable plot. It contains some of his most memorable music, including the tenor anthem “Che gelida manina,” the soaring love duet “O soave fanciulla,” the famous quarrel/love quartet, and of course, Musetta’s Waltz. La bohème runs at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on April 6, 7, and 9, and at the Broward Performing Arts Center on May 2 and 4. FGO’s own Director of Artistic Operations, Matt Cooksey, directs. Conductor Joseph Mechavich returns for the first time since 2019’s Werther.
In addition to the mainstage operas, FGO will offer a variety of concerts featuring the Studio Artists, with dates and times to be announced.
“The 2023–24 season is designed to immerse the audience in three very different musical and dramatic worlds, each of them based on real-world people with real-world stories. Yet these stories are also transformed through the sensual medium of opera,” says FGO General Director and CEO Susan T. Danis. “We are excited to bring our audiences what they love — dazzling productions, fantastic storytelling, and a thrilling mixture of established stars and rising talent from every corner of the globe, including right here in South Florida. “
Subscriptions to the 2023-24 FGO season are currently on sale at fgo.org or by calling 800.741.1010. Single ticket sales will begin in September 2023.
ABOUT FLORIDA GRAND OPERA
FGO was founded in 1941 as Greater Miami Opera and merged with The Opera Guild of Fort Lauderdale, Inc. in 1994. As Florida’s premier opera company, it presents standard repertoire, contemporary works, new commissions, and original productions — all featuring projected translations in English and Spanish. The mainstage operas of the season include Domenico Cimarosa’s El matrimonio secreto, sung in Spanish translation (Nov. 12 – 15, 2022), Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Michael Ching’s Buoso’s Ghost (Jan. 28 – Feb.11, 2023), Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (Mar. 18 – Apr. 15, 2023), and Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (Apr.29 – May 20, 2023).
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WHO: Florida Grand Opera
WHAT: FGO’s 2023-2024 Season, our 82nd
WHEN: November 11, 2023 – May 4, 2024
WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Broward Center for the Performing Arts
WHY: Florida Grand Opera’s 82nd consecutive season features three of the lyric stage’s most popular titles that transport audiences through the elite salons of Paris to dusty Sicilian towns, returning to Paris’ chilly garrets on a musical tour of tales grounded in the lives of real people.