Michigan Opera Theatre Announces 2017-18 Season!

Spring is here, and the time has come to officially announce our 2017-18 season!

This will be the first season under the artistic leadership of our Principal Conductor Stephen Lord, and it features a great blend of old favorites as well as exciting new works!

On the opera side, our season features three beloved classics: Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Puccini’s “Tosca” and Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.” It also include two contemporary operas: Ricky Ian Gordon’s “27” about the Paris salons of Gertrude Stein and her circle of artist friends, including Henri Matisse, Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso, and “The Summer King,” by Daniel Sonenberg, about legendary Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson. As a special event, legendary soprano Kathleen Battle comes to the Opera House (where she got her start in the 1970s!) to give a recital, following a successful return to the Metropolitan Opera.

On the dance side, we are excited to announce the return of the American Ballet Theatre for four performances of “Romeo & Juliet,” two of which will feature world-renowned dancer, Misty Copeland! Our dance season also includes performances by Ballet Hispanico, Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Paul Taylor Dance Company and a brand new production of “The Nutcracker with the Cincinnati Ballet.

The season also includes the return of our perennial and beloved “Too Hot to Handel” as well as Gilbert & Sullivan’s “HMS Pinafore,” performed by the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus.

Subscriptions go on sale Monday, April 3 for $136 – $535.  Single tickets will go on sale Aug. 21 for $29 – $170.

See full 2017-18 season line-up below!


Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Oct. 14-22, 2017
Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Known for pushing the envelope, Rigoletto keeps audiences on the edge of their seats with a thrilling score and a heartbreaking tale of love, lies and sacrifice. Giuseppe Verdi’s classic is updated in this production by Jonathan Miller. Set in 1950’s Little Italy, New York, Rigoletto tells the story of a mafia boss whose womanizing ways leads to vengeance and tragedy when he seduces the daughter of his bartender, Rigoletto. Considered one of Verdi’s operatic masterpieces, Rigoletto is not to be missed.

Production Highlights:
• Conducted by MOT Principal Conductor Stephen Lord, directed by Elaine Tyler-Hall.
• Tenor Joshua Guerrero alternates Duke of Mantua with tenor John Bellemer. Baritone Roland Wood alternates title role with Nicholas Pallesen. Soprano So Young Park alternates the role of Gilda with soprano Hae Ji Chang.
• Updated classic reset in mob-run Little Italy, New York.

Wolfgang Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” Nov. 11-19, 2017
Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Regarded by many as the greatest opera of all time, this tale of deception is a romantic comedy accompanied by some of the most beautiful and familiar music ever written. Mozart’s beloved comedy takes audiences on a hilarious adventure as Figaro and Susanna overcome plotting and jealousy to make it to their wedding day. A winning combination of music and mischief.

Production Highlights:
• Conducted by MOT Principal Conductor Stephen Lord, directed by Michael Albano.
• Baritones Paulo Szot and Ed Nelson alternate the role of Count Almaviva. Sopranos Nicole Cabell and Julie Adams alternate the role of Countess Almaviva.
• Basses Aubrey Allicock and Matthew Stump alternate the role of Figaro with sopranos Devon Guthrie and Maeve Höglund alternating the role of Susanna.

Ricky Ian Gordon’s “27,” March 10, 2018
Performed in English with English supertitles

Travel back in time to the inspired gatherings at 27 rue de Fleurus in Paris, where American expatriates author Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas hosted luminaries of art and literature such as Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henri Matisse, and Ernest Hemingway. The opera explores themes of love, loss, change and art set throughout two world wars. Presented in partnership with Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.

Production Highlights:
• Company premiere featuring performers from the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio resident artist program.
• The fourth opera of MOT’s annual community initiative bringing opera directly to Southeastern Michigan audiences through partnerships with community organizations.
• The production is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca,” April 7-15, 2018
Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Lust, betrayal, murder – nothing says drama quite like Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, one of the most popular operas of all time. Amid an unstable 1800s’ Italy, fiery diva Tosca must fight to save her rebellious lover from an evil police chief. This all new MOT co-production perfectly sets the stage for an exhilarating ride of emotional extremes.

Production Highlights:
• Title role alternated between sopranos Alexia Voulgaridou and Valentina Boi; role of Cavaradossi alternated between tenors Andrea Care and Noah Stewart.
• Conducted by Valerio Galli.
• Co-produced with Cincinnati Opera.

Daniel Sonenberg’s “The Summer King,” May 12-20, 2018
Performed in English with English supertitles

Before there was Jackie Robinson, before there was Hank Aaron, there was Josh Gibson, a Negro Leagues baseball legend who died without the opportunity to play for the Major Leagues. In this new opera, The Summer King tells Gibson’s life story of talent, heartbreak and one man’s journey to overcome prejudice and discrimination. Michigan Opera Theatre is proud to be one of the first opera companies to produce this groundbreaking new work about a man considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

Production Highlights:
• New opera tells the story of legendary Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson.
• Baritone Lester Lynch to perform the role of Josh Gibson with mezzo-soprano
Deborah Nansteel as his lover, Grace.
• Co-produced with Pittsburgh Opera, who premieres the opera April 29.
• The production is made possible in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Ballet Hispanico, Oct. 28-29, 2017

Recognized as one of the nation’s leading Latino dance organizations, Ballet Hispánico brings an all-Latina choreographer program with works by Michelle Manzanales, Tania Pérez-Salas and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The program will explore iconic Mexican symbols, the circularity of the human condition and the hallmark passion of flamenco dance.

Cincinnati Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Nov. 25-26, 2017

Don’t miss the Detroit premiere of the Cincinnati Ballet’s original yet tradition-honoring production of “The Nutcracker. “ Elaborate scenery, whimsical stage effects, awe-inspiring acrobatics fill the ballet “with a sense of humor, love and wonder that pulls the affair together.” – The Washington Post. Featuring the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra, this is Detroit’s only live Nutcracker – the way Tchaikovsky intended!

Misty Copeland as Juliet in Kenneth MacMIllan's Romeo and Juliet. Photo: Gene Schiavone.

Misty Copeland as Juliet in Kenneth MacMIllan’s Romeo and Juliet. Photo: Gene Schiavone.

American Ballet Theatre – “Romeo & Juliet,” Feb. 8-11, 2018
Presented with University Musical Society

American Ballet Theatre returns to the Detroit Opera House with one of their signature performances, “Romeo & Juliet.” The Shakespeare tragedy of star-crossed lovers is brought to life in this rich and sensual interpretation by Kenneth MacMillan. Sergei Prokofiev’s instantly recognizable music underscores the lyric beauty and passion of this beloved ballet. Misty Copeland is scheduled to perform the role of Juliet in two of the four performances. Presented in partnership with the University Musical Society.

Dance Theatre of Harlem, March 24-25, 2018

“One of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” – The New York Times.

Dance Theatre of Harlem has achieved unprecedented success. Using the language of ballet, they celebrate African American culture and bring new life to the art form. Audiences have come to love their thrilling performances that empower and inspire.

Paul Taylor Dance Company, April 21-22, 2018

Celebrating more than a half a century of work, Paul Taylor Dance Company brings a repertoire of American Modern Dance. With 143 dances made since 1954, the Company has been a pioneer in its field, offering cogent observations on life’s complexities and society’s toughest issues through dance.


An Evening with Kathleen Battle, Nov. 5, 2017

Since making her professional opera debut with MOT in 1975, Kathleen Battle has soared to classical music heights, winning five Grammys and worldwide acclaim. This legendary soprano continues to hold audiences spell-bound with her luminous voice that is “…without question, one of the very few most beautiful in the world” – The Washington Post

Too Hot To Handel, Dec 16, 2017

A holiday tradition too hot to miss! This soul-stirring, toe-tapping rendition of Handel’s Messiah never fails to bring audiences to their feet. It’s an exhilarating fusion of gospel, jazz and classical music performed by the Rackham Symphony Choir, the Too Hot Orchestra and an all-star cast of soloists. This is a celebration unlike any other.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “H.M.S Pinafore,” Apr. 28, 2018

Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus presents Gilbert & Sullivan’s first smash hit full of their notorious satire and legendary tunesmithing. The Captain’s daughter is in love with a common sailor, but alas, betrothed to the First Lord of the Admiralty. Happily for them, “things are seldom what they seem.”