Cincinnati Opera packs a year of variety into two summer months

Season opens June 12 with 'Carmen'

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Opera squeezes as many arias into two months as most American companies stretch into nine. That’s only a surprise if you think of Cincinnati Opera as a company. Even artistic director Evans Mirageas likens it more to a festival.

“For all intents and purposes, that’s what we are—a festival,” Mirageas said, naming summer festivals at Glimmerglass, Santa Fe, St. Louis and San Francisco as American contemporaries. “But we’re the only grand opera house producing in summertime.”

The season kicks off with a free concert at 7 p.m. Sunday in Over-the-Rhine's Washington Park. Company directors encourage people to pre-register for the concert, which will feature music from performers throughout this summer's calendar.

Between Music Hall and the recent addition of the 900-seat theater at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati Opera has cemented a seasonal formula that includes one “top-10 title” and a second “recognizable name” balanced by an opera “from the top 30 to 40” and a smaller, newer, more intimate work.

Bellevue, Ky., resident Stacey Rishoi stars in the title role of “Carmen, ” which opens Cincinnati Opera’s season with four performances, beginning June 12. “Silent Night ,” which Minnesota Opera premiered in 2011, sees curtains July 10 and 12. “La Calisto, ” opening a five-show run at SCPA on July 17, fulfills the mission to produce smaller works. “Madame Butterfly ” closes the season with a pair of performances, July 24 and 26.

“It’s broadened our ability to be both a grand opera company and also do repertoire we never could have done before,” Mirageas said of utilizing two venues.

Mirageas doesn’t foresee Cincinnati Opera ever converting to a fall-to-spring season—the availability of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra pins the company into a summer season—but he sees the potential to expand the summer season to a fifth opera.

“We’re constantly being asked for that, particularly by our core audience, the real opera junkies. To them, more is better,” he said. “But we have to be careful to know we can afford it and do it to our standard.”

If You Go

What: Cincinnati Opera's 2014 season

Where: Various locations

When: June 8 through July 26

Tickets: Can be bought for individual shows or bundled together or as a full subscription. Tickets start at $25.

More information: Visit the website or call the box office at (513) 241-2742, Box office hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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