Summer opera al fresco, a newly commissioned opus by Silkroad artistic director Rhiannon Giddens, and a temporally flipped “La Bohėme” by buzzy director Yuval Sharon are just a few of the items on the agenda for Boston Lyric Opera’s 2022-23 season, which will feature the company’s first full lineup of live mainstage productions since the pandemic.
“In planning for this season, we felt a strong need to look at the impact BLO can make beyond the boundaries of a traditional season, and plan for an expanded artistic and programming footprint with a greater reach in our home community,” acting general and artistic director Bradley Vernatter announced in a statement accompanying the season release.
With an outdoor English-language production of Charles Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” on Boston Common (Aug. 11 and 13), the season begins several weeks earlier than in past years to take advantage of the warm weather. The show, presented in partnership with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and the City of Boston, will be free and open to the public. Ricardo Garcia stands to make his company debut as Romeo opposite Vanessa Becerra as Juliet; Commonwealth Shakespeare artistic director Steve Maler will direct the production while BLO music director David Angus conducts.
Then, Detroit Opera artistic director Yuval Sharon brings his unique spin on Puccini’s “La Bohème” to the Emerson Colonial Theatre (Sept. 23-Oct. 2). In Sharon’s “Bohème,” which ran earlier this month in Detroit, the order of the acts is reversed so that instead of ending with the tragic death of the seamstress Mimi, the plot arcs from tragedy toward the ecstasy of new love and companionship. Soprano Lauren Michelle, who sang Nedda in BLO’s 2019 “Pagliacci,” returns to the BLO stage as Mimi in this co-production with Detroit Opera and Spoleto Festival USA.
Next spring brings Bela Bartok’s compact psychodrama “Bluebeard’s Castle” (March 22-26) to The Terminal at Flynn Cruiseport Boston. Stage director Anne Bogart, who helmed BLO’s 2019 “The Handmaid’s Tale,” returns to the company for this English-language production, which will share the evening with Alma Mahler’s thorny song cycle “Vier Lieder.” Finally, the season concludes at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre with “Omar” (May 4-7), an opera with libretto and music by Giddens in partnership with composer Michael Abels, whose film music credits include Jordan Peele’s horror blockbusters “Get Out” and “Us.” The opera is based on the life and writings of Omar ibn Said, a West African Islamic scholar who was captured at age 37 and sold into slavery in America. “Omar” is a co-commission and co-production by five American opera houses and festivals, including BLO. More information about the cast and creative teams for all productions will be announced at a later date.
Along with the four flagship productions, BLO also is planning for digital offerings on its operabox.tv streaming service and free community programming, including the return of the company’s Street Stage pop-up performances in summer 2022. The season also brings a few new faces in leadership: management consultant David Tompkins is joining the company as chief operating officer, filling the position left vacant when Vernatter stepped into the acting director role, and mezzo-soprano Nina Yoshida Nelsen, a featured artist in BLO’s “The Butterfly Process” initiative, will join the company as an artistic adviser and work alongside dramaturg John Conklin and conductor Vimbayi Kaziboni to help the company plot its future.
“BLO is doing vital work to move opera forward — the right work, the groundwork that allows for thoughtful, intentional, and socially responsible artistic decisions,” said Yoshida Nelsen in a statement provided by the company.
Subscriptions to the 2022-23 season are now on sale.