FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Renowned Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves Stars
in Title Role
Project Marks Operatic Debut for Stage Director Kenny Leon
Maestro Stefan Lano Continues to Champion New Work
February 23, 2004 -Cincinnati Opera is pleased to announce principal casting for Margaret Garner , a new American opera based on the true, local story of Margaret Garner's quest for freedom. The project marks the anticipated operatic debut for the highly acclaimed creative team of Grammy Award-winning composer Richard Danielpour and librettist Toni Morrison , celebrated novelist and winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The first main stage commission in the company's 84-year history, Cincinnati Opera will present Margaret Garner in July 2005 in honor of the opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Co-commissioners include Michigan Opera Theatre and Opera Company of Philadelphia .
Acclaimed baritone Rodney Gilfry makes his Cincinnati Opera debut in the role of Edward Gaines. Praised by the San Francisco Chronicle for his "rich, rolling baritone with a superb upper range," Mr. Gilfry has established himself as a compelling musician on the world's operatic stages, as well as a distinguished recital and concert artist. No stranger to new works, he has performed in the world premieres of Nicholas and Alexandra , A Streetcar Named Desire , and Sophie's Choice , and has a growing repertoire of impressive debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, the Opéra National de Paris/Bastille; the Royal Opera House-Covent Garden; the Glyndebourne Festival; the Dallas, San Francisco, and San Diego Operas; and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
A baritone of "imposing voice and stature," Gregg Baker will portray the role of Robert Garner, Margaret's husband. A successful veteran of Broadway and a Lawrence Olivier Award nominee, Mr. Baker discovered his gift for opera while performing the role of Crown in Porgy and Bess . The Metropolitan Opera heard his performance in Radio City Music Hall 's production of Porgy and Bess and immediately engaged him for their own production. Since then, he has returned to the Met in the roles of High Priest ( Samson et Dalila ), Amonasro ( Aida ), Escamillo ( Carmen ), Silvio ( Pagliacci ), Donner ( Das Rheingold ), and Belcore ( L'Elisir d'Amore ), and performs leading roles with the major opera houses throughout the world.
Emerging as one of the leading Verdi sopranos performing today, Angela M. Brown will return to Cincinnati Opera's stage in the role of Cilla, Margaret's mother-in-law. Brown was last seen as the Fourth Maid in the company's acclaimed production of Elektra (2002) . A 1997 National Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions Winner, Ms. Brown brandishes pure vocal power and finesse and has won the acclaim of critics and audiences. The roles of Aida, Amelia, Tosca, Elisabetta, Leonora, and Ariadne are the perfect conduit for her musical abilities, which have been described by one Opera News critic as "a powerhouse of an instrument, shimmering with color and imaginatively used, and she knows how to take center-stage."
The role of Casey marks the Cincinnati Opera debut
for Canadian tenor John Mac Master . With a concentration
in the lyric spinto repertoire, Mr. Mac Master has earned triumphant
reviews for his debut performances as Canio in Pagliacci ,
Laca in Jenufa , and Aegisth in Elektra . Next
season he adds Calaf ( Turandot ) to his repertoire and
has performed the roles of Herodes , Pollione, Don José,
Florestan, Arnold , and Rudolph ( William Tell ) with leading
opera companies in the U.S. , Canada , and Europe . Musical theatre
credits include the role of Ubaldo Piangi in Phantom of the
Opera , both on Broadway and in Toronto , and the title role
of Sweeney Todd in the Calgary Opera production.
Maestro Stefan Lano returns to Cincinnati Opera after his successes with Salome (2000) and Dead Man Walking (2002). Mr. Lano made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera with The Rake's Progress in 1997 where he also prepared the Met production of Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron . He has performed with leading opera companies and orchestras throughout North and South America and Europe . A champion of new works, he has been contracted to conduct the 2005 world premiere of the new Mark Adamo opera, Lysistrata , in addition to his work on Margaret Garner . In 1988, he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra, and he continues to work as a composer. His Variations at Five was recorded by members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and in 2001 he completed his Sinfonie Nr. 3 (Sinfonia - Eikasia).
The History of Margaret Garner