Minnesota Opera announced a 2020-21 season Tuesday that leans toward the tried and trusted.
Mozart and Rossini — both featured in the current season — will return along with Paul Moravec’s “The Shining,” which played to sold-out houses when the opera staged its world premiere in 2016.
But two other works, Jeanine Tesori’s new opera “Blue” and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” have not been seen at Minnesota Opera before.
Kicking off the season Sept. 26-Oct. 4 is Mozart’s “The Abduction From the Seraglio,” a revival of a production first seen at Minnesota Opera in 2008. Updated to the 1920s and set in a railcar on the Orient Express, this comedy revolves around a Spanish nobleman who rescues his fiancée from a Turkish harem. Irish soprano Claudia Boyle will make her company debut as damsel-in-distress Konstanze.
“Eugene Onegin,” a tale of ill-fated love, comes to the Ordway Oct. 31-Nov. 8 in a broadly traditional production first staged by Israeli-born director Tomer Zvulun at Kansas City Lyric Opera three years ago, but with a new cast, including Minnesota tenor David Portillo and soprano Corinne Winters in her company debut.
Minnesota Opera’s commitment to contemporary music continues with “Blue,” by a composer best known for her work on Broadway and the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home.” The story of an African-American family riven by the killing of their son in a police incident, “Blue” premiered last summer at the Glimmerglass Festival in New York, where it won praise from the New York Times for Tesori’s “strong yet subtle score that avoids the obvious and exudes a personal voice.”
Librettist Tazewell Thompson, who directed the original production, will oversee the Ordway’s Feb. 13-21 staging, with tenor Aaron Crouch again singing the central role of the Son.
While Rossini’s “Cinderella” has been seen at Minnesota Opera before, the March 27-April 11, 2021 staging will be a new one — the only freshly created in-house production of the season. It will feature Stillwater-bred tenor Jack Swanson, who makes his Minnesota Opera debut in next month’s world premiere of Paola Prestini’s “Edward Tulane.” Swanson will sing Don Ramiro, with Chinese mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu starring as the serving girl who wins her Prince Charming.
Director Eric Simonson returns to summon up the spooky happenings in Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel for the May 15-23, 2021 revival of “The Shining,” but with two new principal singers: baritone Thomas Glass and soprano Nadine Benjamin.
Conductors have yet to be announced for the season, as the opera continues to operate without a music director following Michael Christie’s abrupt departure two years ago. A new position of principal conductor is being created, and finalists for the post will be among those leading the five 2020-21 productions.
Season ticket packages are available now. Individual shows go on sale in July.
Terry Blain is a freelance critic for the Star Tribune. Reach him at email@example.com.