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Opera in Williamsburg announces new season


Opera in Williamsburg’s 2018-19 season will bring to life "Carmen" and "La Traviata" alongside a third production yet to be determined. The productions also herald the opera returning to the Kimball Theatre after reaching an arrangement with the College of William and Mary.

“Everything we do builds on what we have done in the past,” said Naama Zahavi-Ely, the opera’s founder and artistic director.

The announced productions, Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” and “La Traviata” by Giuseppe Verdi, both focus on unorthodox women and tragic romance. Both are also among the most popular and enduring operatic works, something Naama-Zahavi-Ely said they focus on when determining which shows to produce.

“The reason they’re the most popular operas is because they’re just beautiful,” she said. “They’re tried and true. People do them all over the world.”

April’s “Carmen” relays the story of a gypsy factor worker in the custody of Don Jose, a soldier who comes to neglect his duties as his affection for her grows. In September, “La Traviata” will tell of Violetta, a dying courtesan who finds herself infatuated and longing for a better life.

“You have a timeless story about relationships between people,” Zahavi-Ely said of both productions. “Emotion is the thing that opera is strongest in. Particularly, of course, love.”

She said the season’s third production, scheduled for May 2019, remains undetermined. But it will carry a similar world-renowned reputation.

Opera in Williamsburg is also heading to the Colonial Heritage clubhouse in February for another dinner concert, offering a closer look at several singers and music director Jorge Parodi over steak, salmon or vegetarian menu options. Zahavi-Ely said it’s part of an effort to reach out to those who might not otherwise show interest in opera.

“It’s good value for the money,” she said. “It’s a beautiful evening. It’s just fun.”

The opera’s upcoming take on “Carmen” will see it working with the largest orchestra since its inception. The organization is also garnering attention from higher-profile performers; Adam Diegel, who will play Don Jose in Kimball Theatre production, has worked with the Metropolitan Opera since 2010 alongside performances in Hong Kong, Vancouver and other locales.

“They like to come to Williamsburg, to this particularly intimate performance space,” Zahavi-Ely said. “We are building a reputation in the opera world.”

Want to go?

Opera in Williamsburg’s winter dinner concert cooks up 6:30-9 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Colonial Heritage clubhouse, 6500 Arthur Hills Drive. Tickets are $52 for dinner and the concert, $25 for the concert only.

“Carmen” hits the Kimball Theatre April 20-24. Tickets are $48, $43 for seniors, military, teachers and college employees, or $15 for students.

“La Traviata” runs Sept. 12-16 at the Kimball Theatre. The third, unannounced opera will play May 5-9, 2019.

For tickets and more information, visit operainwilliamsburg.org.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette