Tulsa Opera adds ‘Into the Woods’ to the season | Arts & Theater

Opera music

Just days after making a major change in its artistic direction, the Tulsa Opera announced that it was also revamping part of its upcoming 75th anniversary season.

The company announced Aug. 26 that Aaron Beck, who over the past twelve years had held several positions at Tulsa Opera, including overseeing its educational programs and as artistic administrator, would succeed composer Tobias Picker as director. artistic.

Last week, Tulsa Opera revealed it would be replacing the previously announced production of Picker’s opera “Emmeline,” which had suffered multiple postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new production of the comedy. Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods”. .”

“Into the Woods” will be presented on May 12 and 14, 2023.

The company also announced that Tulsa Youth Opera’s annual summer production will be the U.S. premiere of “Alice in Wonderland,” a new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel by composer Pierangelo Valtinoni that will be performed June 10-11. .

People also read…

Beck said the reason for replacing Picker’s opera with a Sondheim musical was to expand the company’s reach in the community.

“I’m sure we could have featured ‘Emmeline’ and we would have had Tobias’ blessing to do so,” Beck said. “But we are also trying in this 75th anniversary season to reach all segments of the community, even those who may not think they would be interested in a traditional opera, but who might be elated by a live musical experience.

“Also, ‘Emmeline’ is very much a story for adults, whereas ‘Into the Woods’, with its approach to fairy tale conventions, is something all ages can enjoy,” he said. “And because it’s a work by Sondheim, it’s about as musically complex as any opera.”

Beck added that many of the singers originally cast in “Emmeline” also had a background in musical theater and would perform in “Into the Woods,” including soprano Ann Toomey, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Roderer and tenor Martin Luther. Clark.

Other cast members include Curt Olds, who last performed with Tulsa Opera in its 2013 production of “The Most Happy Fella”; Jana McIntyre, former Filstrup Artist-in-Residence at Tulsa Opera; and Sam Briggs, a member of the Filstrup Outreach Artists of Tulsa Opera, who has also performed with Theater Tulsa, American Theater Company and Signature Symphony.

Director Tara Faircloth, who helped develop Tulsa Opera’s new production of “Emmeline,” will direct “Into the Woods.” The sets for the production will come from the Theater under the Stars in Houston, which earlier this year mounted a new outdoor production of the musical.

Valtinoni’s “Alice in Wonderland” will be the third of his children’s operas that the Tulsa Youth Opera has performed, following “The Snow Queen” and “Pinocchio.”

“He writes operas designed for children, but there are roles in this play that I don’t think should be performed by young singers because they might put too much pressure on a young voice,” said Beck. “So there will be a few roles that I will play with older singers.”

The rest of Tulsa Opera’s season will continue as scheduled, with the company’s first production of Rossini’s comedy “The Italian Girl (L’italiana in Algeri)” October 28-30 at VanTrease PACE on South Campus. -is from Tulsa Community College, performing a concert version of Verdi’s “Aida,” Feb. 25 at the Tulsa PAC.

The decision to stage “The Italian Girl” at VanTrease — the first time the company has presented a major production in this venue — was practical, though it resonates with Beck’s own vision to better serve the Tulsa community. .

While the touring production of Disney’s “Frozen” will occupy Tulsa PAC’s Chapman Music Hall this weekend, “We just couldn’t get the dates we wanted at Tulsa PAC. A lot of Tulsa’s population now lives closer to the VanTrease than the Tulsa PAC, so this was a way for us to bring opera to people south of Tulsa.

“And the venue itself offers some things that PAC doesn’t, like dressing rooms,” he said. “We have a lot of our customers interested in this.”

Beck plans to continue his work directing the Tulsa Youth Opera as well as the Tulsa Opera Signature Chorale, the resident vocal ensemble of the Signature Symphony at Tulsa Community College.

“As far as I’m concerned, there are never enough people singing,” Beck said. “So if I can stay involved with young people, as well as volunteer and professional singers, and get them to sing as much as possible, I’m happy.

“I’m preparing to start rehearsals with the Tulsa Youth Opera and Signature Chorale next week,” he said. “And I have a great support system here at the opera. So I don’t see myself giving that up anytime soon.

Season tickets for the Tulsa Opera 75th Anniversary Season are on sale now. To buy and more information: www.tulsaopera.com.