Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Seattle Opera presents outdoor Die Walküre concert

Seattle Center Marketing photo

Welcome Back Concert: Die Walküre is set for 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Tickets are $40; children 6 and under are free. Go to seattleopera.org/welcomeback

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m., July 12.

Come delight in the return of live music at Seattle Opera’s Welcome Back Concert: Die Walküre. Before returning to McCaw Hall this fall, the company will offer an outdoor concert featuring highlights of the Ring’s most popular opera. This famous music includes Brünnhilde’s battle cry “Hojotoho!” Wotan’s poignant farewell “Leb’ wohl,” and the incomparable “Ride of the Valkyries,” used in movies such as Apocalypse Now and The Blues Brothers. Richard Wagner’s larger-than-life masterpiece is brought to life by an acclaimed group of artists, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Maestro Ludovic Morlot—known for his major contributions as the symphony’s former leader.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Meet the Director: Dan Wallace Miller


Director Dan Wallace Miller joking around with Michael Chioldi (Scarpia) in between filming Seattle Opera's streaming Tosca. Philip Newton photo
As someone who’s both disarmingly zany and down-to-Earth all at once, Dan Wallace Miller brings a presence to opera that’s hard to ignore. From days of running his own company Vespertine Opera Theater, to creating Il trovatore (‘19) and our immersive opera, The Combat (‘17), the stage director possesses a distinct power: helping newcomers (including millennials and Gen Z) realize that they too, are enamored with this art form. And with Miller’s inspired take on Tosca, he shows how this centuries-old art form is as seductive and as electrifying as it ever was.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Exotic and the Familiar:

Cultural Contrast in Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra-Comique

Zanda Švēde (Carmen) in Seattle Opera's Carmen. Sunny Martini photo

By Judy Tsou

In 1872, when Georges Bizet chose Prosper Mérimée’s infamous novella Carmen as the subject of his upcoming opera for the Opéra-Comique, the reaction was swift from Adolphe de Leuven, one of the producers: “Carmen! The Carmen of Mérimée? Wasn’t she murdered by her lover? And the underworld of thieves, gypsies, cigarette girls—at the Opéra-Comique, the theater of families or wedding parties? You would put the public to flight. No, no impossible!” We know that Bizet got his way and de Leuven eventually resigned. The subject was risqué, especially for the Opéra-Comique, which by the 1870s had become increasingly conservative. The audience expected G-rated “rom-com” operas.

The librettist, Ludovic Halévy, attempted to appease the producers and offered the following remedies: a tamer Carmen (did not happen), a good-girl foil to Carmen (Micaëla), a heroic male character (Escamillo, the bullfighter) in place of the original narrator, gypsies as comedians (not really), and Carmen’s death “glossed over at the very end of the opera [not! ], in a holiday atmosphere [yes], with a parade [before the murder], a ballet [no], a joyful fanfare [sort of].

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Opera conductors unite for dialogue on race and gender

Maestros left from right: Judith Yan, Alondra de la Parra, Viswa Subbaraman, Kazem Abdullah. 

Free Seattle Opera panel discussion; noon – 1:30 p.m., Thursday, June 3. Online via Zoom; register at seattleopera.org/communityconversations  

Seattle Opera announces the next panel in its Community Conversations series: “The View from the Pit: Maestros on Race and Gender in Opera.” Panelists include Maestros Kazem Abdullah, Alondra de la Parra, Viswa Subbaraman, and Judith Yan with moderator Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera’s Director of Programs and Partnerships.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Meet the Artist: Sonia Dawkins

Choreographer Sonia Dawkins

There weren't any big dance numbers in Seattle Opera's April 2021 production of Flight. However, the story came alive in part thanks to the work of choreographer Sonia Dawkins. Dawkins helped to draw the viewer in and bring out the characters' unique traits through singers’ facial expressions, everyday gestures, and body movements. She also helped to create the love scenes in the opera, composed by Jonathan Dove with libretto by April De Angelis. While the performers had to be socially distanced, Dawkins’ work (coupled with some fancy editing) created an impression of intimacy—to quite a comic effect in one scene!

Based in both Seattle and New York, Dawkins is the founder and artistic director of SD|Prism Dance Theatre. She has served on faculty at Pacific Northwest Ballet (among many other schools, colleges, and institutions), and has performed extensively in the United States and the Caribbean. Audiences may have seen her choreography with Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Nevada Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre School, Seattle Theatre Group (Dance This), Northwest Tap Connection, Seattle Children’s Theater, Broadway Bound, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and more. Dawkins is a member of the Stage Directors and Chorographers Society and The International Dance Council.

Hello, welcome! What was it like making your Seattle Opera debut during a global pandemic?!
I was so honored to be a part of the artistic team, and to have a chance to witness how Seattle Opera has been reinventing its work; so amazing.

Seattle Opera was very proactive with us regarding COVID-19 health and safety. Seeing these talented artists, staff, crew, and creative team come together, all the components working together, was inspiring. The opera singers stepped into another realm of their art through the film medium. I would think a piece such as this Flight might help opera to stretch in exciting new directions, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

My Journey to Writing an Opera About Police Violence

Tazewell Thompson’s libretto for Blue tells the story of a Black family struck by tragedy. 

Tazewell Thompson, top, in Harlem. He wrote “Blue” from “an obsessive need and sense of responsibility” to tell an intimate story about police violence, behind the numbers. Credit: Gioncarlo Valentine for The New York Times

Beginning in February 2022, Seattle Opera presents Blue, the 2020 winner of Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. This portrait of contemporary African American life is the creation of librettist Tazewell Thompson (five NAACP Awards, plus two Emmy nominations) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Tony-winner known for Fun Home). A story of love, loss, church, and sisterhood, Blue depicts a young couple celebrating the joy of family with the birth of their son. Later they lean on close-knit community in the wake of their son’s death at the hands of a police officer. 

The piece was originally commissioned by the Glimmerglass Festival in 2015 to address contemporary issues surrounding race. After Tesori was asked to write the music, Thompson, a director of several productions at Glimmerglass, was asked to suggest a librettist. He proposed writing one himself, and was inspired by sources such as James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, and Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land

And of course, Thompson also drew from his own lived experience. 

In a June 2020 piece for The New York Times, the librettist wrote about why it was crucial for him to tell this story through opera. An excerpt of Tazewell Thompson's words are available below:

Seattle Opera announces 2021/22 season

A return to live, in-person performances

Photo courtesy of Opera Omaha

Seattle Opera presents La bohème, Orpheus and Eurydice, Blue, The Marriage of Figaro, plus a special recital by Lawrence Brownlee. Performances will take place at The Opera Center and McCaw Hall. For more information, go to seattleopera.org.

After more than a year without live, in-person performances due to COVID-19, Seattle Opera will officially return to the theater this fall with its 2021/22 Season. Offerings include immortal favorites (La bohème, The Marriage of Figaro), historic works with a modern twist (Orpheus and Eurydice), plus an award-winning piece speaking to racial injustice in America (Blue). It will take years for Seattle Opera—and the arts sector as a whole—to recover from the pandemic’s economic impact. Feeling the presence and excitement of live performance is one way that the healing can begin, said General Director Christina Scheppelmann.

“The theater, where music, storytelling, lights, performers, and audiences meet, is a space of magic and impact,” Scheppelmann said. “This past year has been difficult and challenging on so many levels. As we process all that we’ve been through, we can come here to enjoy ourselves. We can rediscover the positive moment and outlook we are seeking. Through opera, we can reconnect with our deepest emotions and our shared humanity."

Monday, May 10, 2021

Seattle Opera and Bloodworks Northwest host third pop-up blood drive

Sean Airhart photo

Seattle Opera and Bloodworks Northwest host third pop-up blood drive: 10 a.m.– 5 p.m. on May 18 ; 9 a.m.– 5 p.m. on May 20, 25 & 27 at The Opera Center: 363 Mercer St.


Seattle Opera and Bloodworks Northwest are teaming up to present a May blood drive at the Opera Center. Members of the public can donate blood on May 18, 20, 25 or 27. Appointments are required, and people can sign up at seattleopera.org/bloodworks or call 800-398-7888.

In the midst of a nationwide blood shortage, donating is more important than ever. In the Pacific Northwest, patient demand has increased 18 percent. With warmer weather causing some to skip their donation appointments—in addition to confusion surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine (there is no wait time for donating after receiving the vaccine)—blood supplies are reaching a crisis point: Most blood types are at emergency levels. It will take weeks or months to replenish supplies and return to operational levels.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Meet the Artist: Randall Scotting


Countertenor Randall Scotting returns to Seattle Opera as The Refugee in Flight following his debut in Semele ('15). Later this year, he performs the title role in Cavalli’s Eliogabalo with San Francisco’s West Edge Opera, and then he records a solo album of castrato arias with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London. The Colorado native studied vocal performance at the Juilliard Opera Center and the University of Colorado. He was also awarded a PhD from London’s Royal College of Music for his thesis on 18th century Italian opera.

We last saw you here for your role as Athamas in Semele (‘15) with Stephanie Blythe, Brenda Rae, and Alek Shrader among others. This was also your SO debut. What was that experience like?
It was great! I love that piece, and what an amazing production and colleagues. My role in Semele was much smaller; by contrast, I get to sing quite a bit in Flight. It’s wonderful to be back in Seattle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Flight takes wing in the press

Kyle Seago films Randall Scotting as 

"At a time when the pandemic has laid waste to innumerable travel plans, Jonathan Dove’s 1998 comic opera, Flight, is an inspired choice for a new streaming film by Seattle Opera ... Brian Staufenbiel directs a talented (and socially distanced) ensemble cast, and Viswa Subbaraman conducts a rousing performance."  — The New Yorker 

"The Seattle Opera has produced an amazing show in Flightand during a pandemic no less. Make your reservation for this destination soon." — Eclectic Arts

"A unique streaming treat for both AvGeeks and fans of opera." —The Runaway Girl Network 

"Before seeing this production, I was already of the view that Flight is a masterpiece. This film does the opera full justice: hats off to Seattle Opera for delivering it in such style. And if anyone thinks the plot is too fatuous and improbable, they should look up the name Mehran Karimi Nasseri, whose real-life story is at its heart – and in this case, truth is even stranger than fiction."—Bachtrack 

"We know we’re in for an acting treat when we see Sharleen Joynt’s overpoweringly supercilious, impeccably turned out Controller, prowling her control tower and pulling the strings; we see her arched eyebrows and penetrating stare in close-up as she delivers stratospheric coloratura." —Bachtrack