Not many people would voluntarily take on Jon Snow. But David Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, welcomes the challenge.
“There’s a lot of great entertainment in your living room right now—essentially, we’re competing with ‘Game Of Thrones,’” he reasons. “So, we knew we had to offer something worth putting on pants and leaving the house for.”
That something would be O17, the company’s first-ever season-opening, city-wide festival. Over the course of 12 days, O17 will feature seven events, including three world premieres. While classic Mozart is on the menu, Philadelphia factors heavily into the programming with productions such as “We Shall Not Be Moved,” a multidisciplinary examination of the MOVE bombing.
“We’ve reinvented the company in the last five years,” says Devan. “We want to be in the city, not above it, and really embrace the spirit of Philadelphia in everything we do.”
Ready to put on those pants? Here’s what O17 has in store this fall.
“The Magic Flute”
September 15-24, The Academy Of Music
Mixing live performance with playful animated projections, this reimagining of Mozart’s classic comedy is an exclusive East Coast presentation of the Komische Oper Berlin production. (Fun fact: Philly is fancy in international opera circles these days.) If you want to introduce the kiddos to opera, this is the time to do it.
September 17 and 18, Perelman Theater
Superstar soprano Radvanovsky is what they refer to as a Big Effing Deal in the opera world. She’s swinging by the Kimmel for two events this month: a solo recital on the 17th and an open-to-the-public master class with Opera Philadelphia Emerging Artists on the 18th.
Opera on the Mall: “The Marriage of Figaro”
September 23, Independence National Historical Park
Department of Free Stuff: this open-air HD broadcast of Mozart’s comedy is the perfect way to spend a crisp fall evening. Reserve your tickets at operaonthemall.org.
September 14-23, Perelman Theater
Based on Peter Ackroyd’s haunting novel “The Trial of Elizabeth Cree,” this world-premiere chamber opera is part murder mystery, part soap opera set in 1880s London. The novel’s big-screen adaptation, “The Limehouse Golem,” will see its U.S. debut this month.
“We Shall Not Be Moved”
September 16-24, Wilma Theater
From Emmy-nominated Haitian-American composer David Bernard Roumain, this new chamber opera combines poetry, dance, video, R&B and jazz to tell the story of five North Philly runaways. The condemned house they seek shelter in is a significant one—it resides on the site of the former MOVE compound, where 11 people were killed when police dropped explosives in 1985. Thirty-two years later, the questions of racism, policing and access remain as relevant as ever.
“The Wake World”
September 18-25, The Barnes
In a win for the Philly arts scene, Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence David Hertzberg presents his world premiere amidst Dr. Barnes’ storied collection. The one-act opera is inspired by a fairy tale by poet, magician and occultist Aleister Crowley—who, suffice it to say, wasn’t big on happily ever afters.
September 16-23, The Philadelphia Museum of Art
As far as stages go, you don’t get much more impressive than the PMA. This site-specific Philadelphia premiere is actually a double-bill featuring two operas exploring the psychological fallout of war: Monteverdi’s “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda” (1638) and “I Have No Stories To Tell You,” composer Lembit Beecher’s 2014 work following a U.S. soldier struggling to adjust to civilian life after serving in the Middle East.
Opera Philadelphia's O17 Festival runs September 14-25 at venues across the city. For tickets and more info visit www.operaphila.org.