Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O Returns September 21st

Pictured Above:  Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. Photo Credit: Contributed.



Philadelphia, PA – This week, the festival hailed as “a hotbed of operatic innovation (New York Times) and “one of the most enjoyable additions to the fall calendar in years” (Washington Post) returns to Philadelphia, as the fifth iteration of Opera Philadelphia’s annual, season-opening Festival O brings a star-studded lineup of live performances to multiple venues in the city from Sept. 21 through Oct. 1. Highlights of opening week include:

Thursday, September 21, 7:00 p.m. | The Wilma Theater

The Wilma Theater is the site of the world premiere of 10 Days in a Madhouse, an experimental, psychological opera from composer Rene Orth and librettist Hannah Moscovitch. The opera is inspired by the real-life story of Nellie Bly, a trailblazing reporter who in 1887 faked madness to be admitted to Blackwell’s Asylum for the Insane and to report on conditions from the inside, where Bly encountered women whose poverty, race, and grief over past traumas had been mistaken for madness. Soprano Kiera Duffy stars as Nellie Bly, with Grammy-winning baritone Will Liverman as Dr. Josiah Blackwell.

Pictured Above: Festival O starts with 10-Days In a Madhouse, Rehearsal photo with soprano Kiera Duffy Neillie bly and baritone Will Liverman. Photo Credit: Ray Bailey.

Friday, September 22, 8:00 p.m. | Academy of Music

Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra, a family tragedy interwoven with rivalry and political turmoil, returns to Philadelphia for the first time in 40 years. One of the composer’s most powerful works and essential viewing for Verdi lovers, the opera stars Hawaiian baritone Quinn Kelsey in his role debut as the titular Simon, with Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez as his long-lost daughter, Amelia, and Christian Van Horn as his arch-rival, Fiesco.

Pictured Above: Simon BoccanegraPhoto Credit: Contributed.

Saturday, September 23, 8:00 p.m. | Suzanne Roberts Theatre

In the Philadelphia premiere of Unholy Wars from Grammy Award winning tenor Karim Sulayman, selections from the early Baroque period are stitched together to reveal a compelling story of the Crusades. The narrative shifts, however, as the works— originally written through a European lens by composers including Monteverdi and Handel—are sung from a contemporary Arab American perspective, examining the Western opera canon’s relationship to the Middle East. 

Pictured Above: Unholy WarsPhoto Credit: Contributed.

Saturday, September 23, 11:00 p.m.

At “Late Night Snacks,” the pop-up cabaret club at 2nd and South streets, join celebrated local composer Jennifer Higdon in a musical mystery tour through her love: love for an album and love for a person. With a little help from her friends (a group of local queer composers), Higdon will weave together songs from her favorite album, the iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and original love songs she wrote for her wife, Cheryl Lawson. Higdon and Lawson will join host Jarbeaux onstage for this late night of music and storytelling. Featuring performances by singer-songwriter Emily Bate; sonic painter of impossible worlds, Mel Hsu; and Snacks host Sam Rise. With musical supervision by Opera Philadelphia’s Elizabeth Braden. 

To secure tickets and view the entire Festival O calendar, visit:  OperaPhila.org

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