Michigan Opera Theatre appoints acclaimed soprano Christine Goerke as associate artistic director

Greg Tasker
Special to The Detroit News

Michigan Opera Theatre announced Tuesday that it has appointed world-renowned soprano Christine Goerke as its associate artistic director and unveiled its 2021-22 season with a return to the Detroit Opera House in April 2022.

Goerke, who has a three-year appointment, has appeared in major opera houses of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and Paris Opera. She has sung much of the great soprano repertoire, earning critical acclaim for her Strauss and Wagner roles. She will assume principal responsibility for production casting and will play a leading and collaborative role with artistic director Sharon on all musical matters.

Soprano Christine Goerke

MOT also appointed Davóne Tines as its Artist-in-Residence for the 2021-22 season.

“The breadth of artistic appointments, collaborations, and partnerships marks a new emerging vision for MOT under the artistic leadership of Yuval Sharon, with a nod to the next 50 years,” said Wayne S. Brown, MOT's president and CEO in a press release. “The 2021-22 season celebrates a defining moment for opera and dance in Detroit and beyond.”

The 2021-2022 season also marks Sharon’s first full season since being named the inaugural Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director in September, a five-year appointment.

The new season will begin with  “Act 1: Out and About,” which takes MOT to new sites and will enable Michigan’s principal opera company to reach a larger audience. The first major event will be a special concert performance of Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, presented in cooperation with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, on May 15. That performance will be held at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre at Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

Yuval Sharon, the newly appointed Michigan Opera Theatre artistic director, poses for a portrait at the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit.

 “Act II: Coming Home” returns MOT to its original performance space, Music Hall in Detroit. The first performance will be Migadalia Cruz’s Frida, scheduled for Feb. 26-27, 2022. It brings the return of MOT favorite Robert Xavier Rodríguez. MOT will return to the Detroit Opera House with a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s La bohème, led by Yuval Sharon and co-produced with Boston Lyric Opera. The opera will be performed on April 2, 6 and 10 and will mark the first in-person performance at the Detroit Opera House in more than two years. The last of the previous season’s performances were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Also on the 2021-2022 schedule:

Cavalleria rusticana in Concert, May 15, Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, Oakland University, Rochester Hills. Music by Pietro Mascagni. Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci. Conducted by DSO Music Director Jader Bignamini. Featuring Christine Goerke, MOT’s Associate Artistic Director, as Santuzza.

Tickets for Cavalleria rusticana will be available for purchase, beginning at noon Wednesday 3-24 and can be purchased online via MOT’s website, michiganopera.org, or via ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 313.471.7000. Ticket prices range from $39 to $169; fees will apply.

 Blue, Sept. 11-12, location to be determined. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Libretto by Tazewell Thompson. Directed by Kaneza Schaal. Conducted by Daniela Candillari. The new production features Kenneth Kellogg as the Father, Krysty Swann as the Mother, Aaron Crouch as the Son, and Gordon Hawkins as the Reverend.

BLISS, date and location to be determined. A recreation of Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance based on Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Re-staged by Yuval Sharon.

 Frida, Feb. 26-27, 2022, Music Hall, Detroit. Music by Robert Xavier Rodríguez. Lyrics and monologues by Migdalia Cruz. Book by Hilary Blecher. Directed by Jose Maria Condemi. Conducted by Suzanne Mallare Acton. Featuring Catalina Cuervo as Frida Kahlo and Ricardo Herrera as Diego Rivera

La bohème, April 2, 6, 10, 2022, Detroit Opera House. Music by Giacomo Puccini. Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed by Yuval Sharon. Conducted by Vimbayi Kaziboni. Co-produced with Boston Lyric Opera. Featuring Matthew White as Rodolfo, Brandie Sutton as Musetta, and Edward Parks as Marcello.

X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, May 14, 19 and 22, 2022, Detroit Opera House. Music by Anthony Davis. Libretto by Thulani Davis and Kip Davis. Directed by Robert O’Hara. Conducted by Kazem Abdullah. Featuring Davóne Tines as Malcolm, Whitney Morrison as Betty, and Victor Robinson as Elijah Mohammed. Co-produced with Opera Omaha.

MOT also announced its 2021-22 dance season, which will feature two productions that will be staged at the Detroit Opera House.  

The Dance Theatre of Harlem will present a mixed-repertory program of contemporary works from choreographers Claudia Schreier and Robert Garland on Jan. 22 and 23, 2022. Schreier’s “Passage” explores the strength of human spirit in a reflection on the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia in 1619. The program also includes the Detroit premiere of Garland’s “Higher Ground,” set to Stevie Wonder songs penned during turbulent times. 

Ballet Hispánico performs the Detroit premiere of “Doña Perón: The Rise and Fall of a Diva,” on March 19-20, 2022. The full-length ballet is based on Eva “Evita” Perón’s rise from dancehall performer to First Lady of Argentina.