Above: Jamez McCorkle as Omar, credit: Cory Weaver
For cast lists, please visit the Opera Series Overview.
The WFMT Radio Network continues the 2023 Opera Series with two stunning performances from LA Opera—Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Omar by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels.
Pelléas et Mélisande brings together a phenomenal cast and exquisite performances. Lost in the forest, a prince encounters an ethereal beauty with a mysterious past (and lush locks that would make Rapunzel envious). But after she’s brought home to his family, she begins to grow increasingly close to his handsome younger brother.
Debussy’s sensual, exquisitely nuanced score casts a hypnotic spell, capturing an enigmatic dream world where forbidden love blossoms.
Conducted by James Conlon, this fascinating lyric masterpiece stars two riveting young performers, soprano Sydney Mancasola and baritone Will Liverman, as the doomed lovers, and Kyle Ketelsen as the jealous prince. The magnificent Susan Graham makes her role debut as Geneviève, mother of the two rival brothers, and the legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto returns as King Arkel, the family patriarch unable to grasp the tragedy unfolding before him.
ABOUT OMAR: In 1807, a 37-year-old scholar living in West Africa was captured and forced aboard a ship bound for Charleston, South Carolina. Omar Ibn Said’s life and Muslim faith are remembered and retold in this inspirational West Coast premiere inspired by his remarkable 1831 autobiography (the only known surviving American slavery narrative written in Arabic).
Set in the shifting darkness of memory and imagination, Omar follows his compelling journey from a peaceful life in his homeland to enslavement in a violent, foreign world. Reflecting on his life journey, he’s haunted by memories of his family and the people he encounters along the way. Through it all, he somehow remains true to himself and his faith, against all odds. The luminous score—composed by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels—incorporates distinctive West African traditions with traditional opera instrumentation.
Tenor Jamez McCorkle makes his company debut in the title role, with bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch in a double role as two very different enslavers. Norman Garrett makes his company debut as Omar’s brother, with Barry Banks as the auctioneer and Jacqueline Echols as Julie, an enslaved woman who gives Omar the key to a better life.
“Triumphant… Divine… Omar lives again, thanks to the unconquerable power of his words, now borne aloft by the music of history.”
–The Los Angeles Times
In just over three decades of existence, LA Opera has become one of America’s most exciting and ambitious opera companies. Under the leadership of James Conlon (Richard Seaver Music Director) and Christopher Koelsch (Sebastian Paul and Marybelle Musco President and CEO), the company is dedicated to staging imaginative new productions, world premiere commissions and inventive presentations of the classics that preserve the foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling.
This program is a part of the WFMT Radio Network Opera Series, a series designed to complement the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to fill out the year with great Opera content. The series begins in June and lasts until December.