Opera Orlando presents the World Premiere of “The Secret River” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando December 17-19, 2021.
This is an original chamber opera adaptation of “The Secret River,” based on the book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Central Florida resident, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
The Secret River follows the journey of Calpurnia, a young, intelligent girl with a robust imagination as she searches for a secret river to help her family and small town. This story for all ages demonstrates the power of trusting one’s imagination and the goodness within us all.
With music composed by University of Central Florida Pegasus Professor Stella Sung and a libretto by Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell, this one-act chamber opera is set in Central Florida during the Great Depression.
“The Secret River is a beautiful story that we were excited to turn into an opera,” shares Opera Orlando’s general director Gabriel Preisser. “It has been a labor of love getting to this point among me, the creators, and the production team. I know our audiences will be blown away by this magical and earnest opera that has taken three years to develop, write, and produce. I am
particularly grateful for all the support from the community and local and national foundations as we have workshopped the piece. After hearing the public reading of the work this past April at Mead Garden, I know we have something really special to share with Central Florida and beyond.”
This immersive production will be presented in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater at Dr. Phillips Center and features musicians from the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and members of the Opera Orlando Youth Company under the baton of Dr. Everett McCorvey, founder and music director of the American Spiritual Ensemble.
It is directed by up-and-coming stage director Dennis Whitehead Darling, with puppetry created and performed by Michelee Puppets and dance choreographed by Maxine Montilus, performed by students from the University of Florida.
Opera Orlando is excited to welcome back former studio artist soprano Kyaunnee Richardson, singing the role of Calpurnia . Last season, Ms. Richardson was a fan favorite for her star turn as Adele in “Die Fledermaus,” and as Gretel in the Company’s “Hansel & Gretel.”
She will be joined by acclaimed soprano NaGuanda Nobles and 2021-22 studio artist, baritone Geoffrey Peterson, playing the role of Calpurnia’s mother and father. Mezzo-soprano Kimberly Milton will sing the role of the town’s wise woman, Mother Albirtha, and Metropolitan Opera soprano Emily Pulley rounds out the cast, singing the role of the author herself, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.
Tickets start at $49, with seatings at 2pm (Dec 18 & 19) and 7:30pm (Dec 17 & 18). They can be purchased at DrPhillipsCenter.org or the venue box office.
For more information on “The Secret River” or Orlando Opera’s upcoming schedule, visit operaorlando.org
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