Season Preview: A look at Amarillo Opera's 2017-18 offerings
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By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
A classic Italian work and an all-time great American musical, both starring familiar faces, will bookend Amarillo Opera's 2017-18 season.
The company will stage three productions and host a celebration of Hispanic food and music between October and May in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St.
The season kicks off Oct. 6 and 7 with Giuseppi Verdi's La Traviata, an iconic work that hasn't been staged by the company since 2006 in its first production in the Globe-News Center. This version will star former Amarillo resident Eric Barry, who has gone on to an international career as a tenor.
"It's one of the perennial Top 10 operas, one of the most recognized," said David O'Dell, the company's general director. "It's the opera from Pretty Woman, and we'll try to play that up a litle bit and hope the familiarity of the music and the story will help bolster the (sales)."
Also helping: Bringing back Barry, who has performed in the company's productions of Don Pasquale, La Boheme and, most recently, Lucia di Lammermoor. In Traviata, he'll play Alfredo, a young man who loves but feels betrayed by a courtesan named Violetta, who succumbs tragically to consumption.
"Alfredo is a fabulous role, and Eric is perfect for it," O'Dell said. "I think that with the amount of experience he's gained as he travels around the world, his voice has settled in and gotten a lot richer. ... He's always had a fabulous voice, but ... there's a richer, more mellow sound now. We're just thrilled to have him back."
Up next is the company's educational opera, a revival of Adolphus Hailstork's Joshua's Boots, last staged by the company in 2012. The work was commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 1999 to tell the story of former slaves who found freedom in the American West as cowboys. It'll be staged Feb. 3 for the public following a pair of performances Feb. 2 for schoolchildren.
"It's a really dynamic story about an African-American kid ... (who) heads west in fulfillment of his dream to be a cowboy," O'Dell said. "It has really important, significant ties to this region because this is where all of that still happened."
The season continues with three performances on April 5, 6 and 7 of the musical theater classic Man of La Mancha, starring Broadway and television star Ron Raines as Miguel de Cervantes and his alter ego Don Quixote, the mad gentleman who is convinced that he's a brave knight-errant.
"I've been begging Ron Raines for almost seven or eight years to come to Texas," O'Dell said. "Not only because he's a consummate artist — he's really the real deal; he's starred in a half-dozen Broadway productions — but he's also a fabulous teacher and a really wonderful colleague and mentor to young, aspiring singers."
Raines, a Texas City native perhaps best known for his role of Alan Spaulding on Guiding Light, has starred in Show Boat, Chicago, Follies, Newsies the Musical and, most recently, Annie on Broadway.
"La Mancha is a favorite role of his, and it's suited for him," O'Dell said. "And he knew (original star Richard) Kiley ... and is a natural heir to the throne. We're thrilled to have him."
The production will use sets built for a 1982 Broadway revival of the show starring Raul Julia, reconfigured from the original design of the 1965 production.
"This is a real, historic thing," O'Dell said. "In addition to being a wonderful set, this is an important piece of art in its own right, preserved and in fabulous shape."
The season closes May 12 with the company's traditional Musica Variada concert, celebrating Mexican music like mariachi and other styles.
"It will become more of a festival of song and food, with food in the lobby as part of the admission price (and available) before the show and during intermission," O'Dell said.
Season ticket prices are $192.50, $148.50, $86 and $67.50, plus fees. Packages also are available for $40, plus fees, for subscribers age 40 or younger; purchasers will get the best available seat at time of purchase.
- Amarillo Museum of Art
- Amarillo Symphony
- Amarillo Little Theatre
- Chamber Music Amarillo
- Lone Star Ballet
- Friends of Aeolian-Skinner, Opus 1024