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The Santa Fe Opera Presents Three World Premieres


The Santa Fe Opera Presents Three World Premieres

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Announcing A trio of new works commissioned by The Santa Fe Opera

The Thirteenth Child

by Poul Ruders and Becky & David Starobin

opens July 27, 2019, runs for 5 performances

The Santa Fe Opera’s 16th World Premiere

M. Butterfly

by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang

has its World Premiere August 1, 2020

The Santa Fe Opera’s 17th World Premiere

The Lord of Cries

by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo

will be heard in summer 2021

The Santa Fe Opera’s 18th World Premiere

Santa Fe, NMGeneral Director Robert K. Meya today announced two new world premiere operas commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera. Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly will open on August 1, 2020. John Corigliano and Mark Adamo’s The Lord of Cries will debut in the 2021 Season. This announcement rounds out a trio of new works commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, with the upcoming world premiere of Poul Ruders and Becky and David Starobin’s The Thirteenth Child which Meya announced in May 2018.

Meya underscored how proud the Santa Fe Opera is to play a major role in the commissioning and producing of new American opera. To date, more than 2,100 performances of 172 different operas have been given by the Santa Fe Opera, including 15 world premieres and 45 American premieres. The Thirteenth Child will be the company’s 16th world premiere, M. Butterfly the 17th and The Lord of Cries the 18th.

The Thirteenth Child

Forget about magic beans and bowls of porridge — this fairy tale is a “down-to-the-wire” thriller, inspired by the Brothers Grimm. A paranoid king banishes his twelve sons in favor of Lyra, the thirteenth child. When Princess Lyra learns about her long-lost brothers, she embarks on a quest to find them. And then, like all the best fairy tales, it has an enchanted forest, riddles, a handsome prince, an ogre, a horrible mistake and a nearly impossible feat for Princess Lyra to perform if everything is to be put right.

Poul Ruders is one of today’s most highly acclaimed composers. His operatic setting of The Handmaid’s Tale has been hailed as “an outstandingly effective piece of music theater” by Opera News and as “a riveting, kaleidoscopic score” by The New York TimesThe Thirteenth Child is Ruders’ fifth opera and the Santa Fe Opera’s 16th world premiere.

“In 2010, I finished what I thought would be my last opera,” said composer Poul Ruders. “But being a composer, I knew that somewhere there was a subject lying in wait for me to put my paws on. For a Dane to do a Hans Christian Andersen story would be too obvious! So I went for The Brothers Grimm instead. In reading through their stories, I kept coming back to this one, which I think is emotionally very potent.”

“As opposed to The Handmaid’s Tale, which is an opera for grown-ups, I would say that The Thirteenth Child is good for all ages, including children, who I hope will find it kind of scary. If not, I haven’t done my job very well. I think if you can sit through a Harry Potter movie and enjoy it and not have to leave the bedroom light on at night, you’ll love this!”

“I am overwhelmed with joy and pride and humility that my fifth opera will be premiered at this fantastic venue this summer.”

M. Butterfly

The Santa Fe Opera’s 2020 Season will bring the world premiere of Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang’s new opera, M. Butterfly, based upon Hwang’s 1988 Tony Award-winning and Pulitzer-Prize finalist Broadway play of the same name. Both the opera and the play on which it is based were inspired by the true story of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year love affair, with an astonishing secret at its heart, with a star of the Peking Opera. The story’s many parallels with Puccini’s well-known Madama Butterfly are echoed in the new opera’s music, composed by Huang Ruo, the celebrated young Chinese-American composer whose first opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, was given its American Premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2014.

Librettist David Henry Hwang writes, “When Huang Ruo and I began looking for our next project together, it seemed time to finally embark upon my dream of bringing M. Butterfly back to the world of opera, which in many ways strikes me as its most natural home. I am grateful to the Santa Fe Opera for investing the time, resources and artistic support necessary to develop and realize this work. Because opera is the most theatrical of stage forms, one which most effectively facilitates an audiences’ suspension of disbelief, Huang Ruo and I believe it will allow this story to take wing, more beautifully and powerfully than ever before.“

The Santa Fe Opera is especially pleased to present this new work on the heels of the composer/librettist team’s tremendous success with the 2018 world premiere of An American Soldier, which received unanimous critical acclaim at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. M. Butterfly will be staged by the same creative team that prepared the Santa Fe Opera’s widely praised American premiere of Huang Ruo’s Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 2014 under the

direction of James Robinson. The Santa Fe Reporter wrote, “The Santa Fe Opera’s production of Dr. Sun

Yat-sen marks the company’s finest venture thus far into 21st century opera. Musically and visually, it ranks high among all the many contemporary operas mounted here. These performances offer a stunning demonstration of Ruo’s skill in molding Eastern and Western modalities into a successful theatrical synthesis.”

With M. Butterfly, conductor Xian Zhang, Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, becomes the third female conductor in the Santa Fe Opera’s history, following Carolyn Kuan in 2014 and Speranza Scappucci in 2015.

The Lord of Cries

The last in the Santa Fe Opera’s trio of consecutive world premieres will be The Lord of Cries by composer John Corigliano and librettist Mark Adamo, based on the intriguing points of intersection between two classics of Western literature, The Bacchae by Euripides and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Separated by 24 centuries, The Bacchae and Dracula tell virtually the same timeless story, with the same subversive message: We must honor our animal nature lest it turn monstrous and destroy us. The Lord of Cries begins with a strange, androgynous god returning to earth to offer a mortal three chances to “ask for what you want” or risk the consequences. He materializes in Victorian England in the guise of the eponymous “Lord of Cries,” as none other than the irresistible antihero Dracula.

Corigliano creates powerfully contrasting sound worlds to juxtapose the tidy world of the Victorians against the savage grandeur of the immortals, forging musical drama from the tension and the gravitational pull between the two worlds. Says the composer, “One important point of The Lord of Cries is that this conflict between who we want to be and who we actually are goes on and on; it tormented the ancient Greeks, and it torments us. So that torment is the score’s real subject.”

The Lord of Cries is only the second opera by John Corigliano, following his acclaimed The Ghosts of Versailles (1991), the Metropolitan Opera’s first commission in three decades. Corigliano’s one hundred plus compositions have won him the Pulitzer Prize, four Grammy Awards and an Oscar, and have been performed and recorded by many of the world’s greatest soloists, conductors and orchestras.

Librettist Mark Adamo, an accomplished composer in his own right, has authored the libretti for his four full-length operas, Little Women (1998), Lysistrata (2005), The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (2013) and Becoming Santa Claus (2015). The Lord of Cries marks the first operatic collaboration between Corigliano and Adamo, longtime partners in life.

The title role of The Lord of Cries is written for superstar counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will make his Santa Fe Opera debut in this world premiere production.

The Thirteenth Child

Music by Poul Ruders

Libretto by Becky and David Starobin

World Premiere, July 27, 2019, The Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe

5 performances: July 27 & 31; August 9, 14 & 21, 2019

Sung in English with opera titles in English and Spanish

Co-commission and co-production with Odense Symphony Orchestra

Production support generously provided by David Henry Jacobs, Gene & Jean Stark

and The National Endowment for the Arts

Creative Team

Conductor: Paul Daniel*

Director: Darko Tresnjak*

Scenic Design: Alexander Dodge*

Costume Design: Rita Ryack*

Lighting Design: York Kennedy*

Projection Design: Aaron Rhyne*

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston


Lyra: Jessica E. Jones*+

Queen Gertrude: Tamara Mumford*

Frederic: Joshua Dennis+

Drokan: Bradley Garvin*

King Hjarne: David Leigh*+

The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and Chorus

*Santa Fe Opera debut, +Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

M. Butterfly

Music by Huang Ruo

Libretto by David Henry Hwang

Based on the stage play “M. Butterfly” by David Henry Hwang

A World Premiere, Commissioned by The Santa Fe Opera

5 Performances — August 1, 5, 14, 19 & 26, 2020

Sung in English with opera titles in English and Spanish

Developed with assistance from American Lyric Theater, Lawrence Edelson, Producing Artistic Director

Commissioning and development support generously provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Production support generously provided by The Aretê Foundation

Creative Team

Conductor: Xian Zhang*

Stage Director: James Robinson

Scenic Design: Allen Moyer

Costume Design: James Schuette

Lighting Design: Chris Akerlind

Projection Design: Greg Emetaz*

Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston


Rene Gallimard: David Bizic*

Song Liling: Kangmin Justin Kim*

Comrade Chin/Shu Fang: Hera Hyesang Park*

Manuel Toulon/Judge: Kevin Burdette

Marc: Joshua Dennis+

The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and Chorus

*Santa Fe Opera debut, +Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

The Lord of Cries

Music by John Corigliano

Libretto by Mark Adamo

World Premiere

Creative Team, Casting and 2021 performance dates to be announced May 2020


Dionysus: Anthony Roth Costanzo*

*Santa Fe Opera debut

The Santa Fe Opera wishes to thank the following for their wonderfully generous support:

The Thirteenth Child

David Henry Jacobs

Gene & Jean Stark

The National Endowment for the Arts

M. Butterfly

The Andrew D. Mellon Foundation

The Aretê Foundation

The mission of the Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians, and arts administrators; and to foster an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.