Philadelphia Opera Company’s 2005-2006 Season

A premiere among the classics

‘Margaret Garner’ debuts during Opera Company’s upcoming season
For the Daily News
The premiere of “Margaret Garner,” plus a late Verdi masterpiece, and Figaro’s twin adventures as told by Rossini and Mozart make up the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2005-2006 season.
For the second year, the company will present four operas with six Academy of Music performances each.
“We hope that we will be able to return to five productions in the 2006-2007 season,” said the company’s general and artistic director Robert Driver as the ’05-’06 season was announced yesterday.
The much-anticipated “Margaret Garner,” with libretto by author Toni Morrison and music by Richard Danielpour, will receive its East Coast premiere in February after being performed by its other co-commissioners, Michigan Opera Theatre and Cincinnati Opera.
[Click *here* for remainder of article.]

The Sopranos
Two dazzling American divas headline Opera Company of Philadelphia’s spring season.
by David Shengold
It finally happened: Record companies have gotten their image-obsessed claws into the opera world. And now more than ever, the opera “industry,” if not necessarily the listening public, wants its sopranos to be ready to do a few (nonspeaking) minutes on Letterman. Some of these runway-model-type singers, like Opera Company of Philadelphia alumna Anna Netrebko, have genuine talent; several have crashed and burned almost as fast as television starlets. This situation has spun out of control. Opera should be about total theatrical conviction, not just silhouettes.
Never fear: Opera Company of Philadelphia boasts two exciting sopranos to anchor its spring shows: Angela Brown in Verdi’s Aida and Christine Goerke in Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. These two world-class singers command plenty of glamour and charisma onstage but are keenly aware that they do not have the supertrim bodies of the carb-phobic album-cover babes that recording execs have been desperately pitching the opera world for the last 15 years. In November, Goerke described herself (unfairly, but with typical humor) to The New York Times as “built like a linebacker;” but she made a dizzyingly seductive figure as Handel’s sorceress, Alcina, at New York City Opera. Similarly tall and queenly, and bringing dignity and passion to her roles, Angela Brown can cut up a room with her irreverence. (In the unlikely event Soul Plane gets made into an opera, she gets the Mo’Nique role.) By any adult reckoning, these are two of the hottest young sopranos in America, and that includes their voluptuous presences onstage. Opera singers are athletes, varying in weight class as do boxers; they have to be toned to do their job. Projecting one’s voice over a large orchestra to a hall seating 2,800 — completely unmiked, as listeners attuned to pop and rock are often surprised to learn — involves a great deal of muscular development and training. Both Brown and Goerke move impressively and can access the Big Emotions that can make opera a uniquely moving art form.
[Click *here* for remainder of article.]