In a press conference on Wednesday morning, Charles MacKay, General Director of the Santa Fe Opera, outlined the organization's plans for new shows over the next few years. The event, which featured appearances by several of the major figures in the shows' development, revealed the SFO's plans to present Oscar in 2013, Miss Fortune in 2014 and Cold Mountain in 2015.
Fittingly, Oscar will focus on the exciting albeit eventually tragic life of Oscar Wilde (pictured at left), the writer who still manages to radiate charm and charisma, despite him being dead for over a century. The work will be composed by Theodore Morrison, Professor of Music Emeritus at the University of Michigan, with John Cox serving as the librettist. Cox will co-direct the production with Kevin Newbury. David Daniels (who is currently playing Roberto in Griselda) will take up Oscar's titular role; Daniels and composer Morrison have collaborated in the past.
A bit surprisingly, Oscar, which will feature masks, costumes and dances (just in case you were wondering), will be the first opera based on Wilde's life. It should be also be noted that this production and Cold Mountain (which we'll discuss in a minute) are new commissions made in collaboration with the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
2014 will see the American premiere of Miss Fortune, which is based on an Italian folk tale known as Sfortuna. Judith Weir serves as both Miss Fortune's composer and librettist, and has made it a contemporary morality tale concerning "the ups and downs of life and the inconsistencies of fate." Appropriately, a group of acrobats called "Fates Gang" will also be part of the production. Otherwise, details on Miss Fortune were relatively scarce; this was the only production not have any principal creators or actors speaking about it.
Lastly, there's 2015's Cold Mountain, which features Jennifer Higdon, aPulitzer Prize winner in music, adapting Charles Frazier's 1997 Civil War-era novel. Cold Mountain is the account of WP Inman, a Confederate soldier who decides to abandon his army's cause and walk back home to see Ada Monroe, his sweetheart he left behind. In 2003, the book was adapted into an Anthony Minghella film featuring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renée Zellweger, Natalie Portman and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The opera will be composed by Higdon, who won both a Pulitzer for her Violin Concerto and a Grammy for Percussion Concerto in 2010. Gene Scheer is the librettist, while operatic baritone Nathan Gunn, who is the Professor of Voice at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urban, plays Inman.
The press conference was suitably informative (if a bit too self-congratulatory) and jogged along at a healthy clip. MacKay, who took up the General Director position with the SFO in fall 2008, devoted much time to reminding the audience of the SFO's successes and its ability to generate new shows even as the economy takes a drubbing.