Madison Opera Announces 2018/19 Season

by | May 8, 2018 | 0 comments

Madison, Wis. – Madison Opera has announced its 2018/19 season, which encompasses three languages, stories that are both realistic and fantastic, and celebrated musical scores.  The company’s 58th season opens with Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci in November, followed by A Little Night Music in February, and Rusalka in April.  The season concludes with the 18th annual Opera in the Parkin July.

“I absolutely love this new season,” says Kathryn Smith, Madison Opera’s General Director.  “Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci are what many people think when they hear the word ‘opera’ – intense emotions, passionate music, and dramatic endings.  I consider A Little Night Music to be a modern operetta, with a fabulous score and one of the wittiest books ever written, making it a perfect midwinter treat.  Rusalka has one of the most gorgeous scores ever composed; I fell in love with it in high school and am so excited to produce it here.  We have remarkable casts, featuring both returning favorite artists and some exciting debuts, and I hope everyone will commit to sharing all three productions with us, whether a piece is a favorite of theirs or completely new.”

The season opens in November with a double-bill of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in Overture Hall.  Last seen at Madison Opera over 30 years ago, both one-act works are set in small Italian villages and tell stories of jealousy, betrayal, and murder, making them the perfect complements to each other.

In Cavalleria Rusticana, Michelle Johnson debuts with Madison Opera as Santuzza, a young woman who seeks revenge against her former lover – and gets it. Scott Piper (Tosca) returns to Madison Opera as Turridu, her former lover.  Michael Mayes (Dead Man Walking) returns as Alfio, the man with whose wife Turridu is currently having an affair.  Danielle Wright debuts as Mamma Lucia.

In Pagliacci, a traveling theatre troupe is torn apart by infidelity and jealousy.  Talise Trevigne makes her Madison Opera debut as Nedda, who is unhappily married to Canio, the head of the troupe.  Both Scott Piper and Michael Mayes play roles in this piece as well – Piper as Canio and Mayes as Tonio, another troupe member who seeks revenge on Nedda when she spurns his advances.  Benjamin Taylor debuts as Silvio, Nedda’s lover, and Robert Goderich (The Tales of Hoffmann, Sweeney Todd) sings Beppe, another troupe member.

Kristine McIntyre (Florencia en el Amazonas, The Tales of Hoffmann) directs this dramatic double-bill, which will also feature the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Youth Choirs.  Joseph Mechavich (Opera in the Park 2017, Don Giovanni) returns to conduct these passionate scores, famous for an Easter Hymn (Cavalleria Rusticana) and the aria “Vesti la Giubba” (Pagliacci).

A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim brightens up February with performances in the Capitol Theater.  Based on the Ingmar Bergman film Smiles of a Summer Night, it is set in turn of the century Sweden, and tells of love lost and found across generations, with sparkling dialogue and rueful awareness that life is not simple.  Sondheim’s score is set entirely in variations of waltz time, including “Send in the Clowns.”  Since its premiere in 1973, A Little Night Music has become a classic – a modern American operetta that plays with ideas of romance with delicious humor.

Returning to Madison Opera are Emily Pulley (Sweeney Todd) as Desiree Armfeldt, an accomplished actress at a turning point in her life; Daniel Belcher (Cinderella) as Fredrik Egerman, her former lover; Jeni Houser (The Tales of Hoffmann, Sweeney Todd) as Anne Egerman, Fredrik’s new wife; and Charles Eaton (Carmen) as Desiree’s current lover, Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm.  Making their debuts are Quinn Berneger as Henrik Egerman, the son of Fredrik, and Katherine Pracht as Countess Charlotte Malcolm.  Doug Scholz-Carlson (Romeo & Juliet, The Barber of Seville) returns to direct a production designed for Madison Opera; John DeMain conducts.

Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka concludes the mainstage season.  Taken from Slavic mythology and inspired by the fairy tale The Little Mermaid, Dvořák’s story tells of a water nymph who falls in love with a human prince.  A witch agrees to make her human – but only if she never speaks.  With a world populated by water sprites and royalty, its glorious score includes the famous “Song to the Moon.”  A company premiere, it will also be Madison Opera’s first opera in Czech.

Emily Birsan (Romeo & Juliet, La Bohème) returns to Madison Opera in the title role of the water nymph Rusalka.  Also returning is Matthew Scollin (The Magic Flute) as the Water Gnome, Rusalka’s father.  Making their Madison Opera debuts are John Lindsey as the Prince with whom Rusalka is in love; Karin Wolverton as the Foreign Princess who interferes with their happily-ever-after; and Lindsay Ammann as the witch Ježibaba.  Keturah Stickann directs this vivid staging in her Madison Opera debut.  John DeMain conducts his first-ever production of this gorgeous score – a fitting conclusion to his 25th year in Madison.

Subscriptions for the 2018/19 season are now available; please contact or call (608) 238-8085. Subscribers save up to 15% off single ticket prices while enjoying this captivating season!

Please contact Marketing Manager Jonathan Schroerlucke at or (608) 238-8085 for press images or for more information.

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