Beloved classics, new stagings all part of Detroit Opera's 2022-23 season

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Operas featuring a doomed poet, a man who sells himself to the devil and a royal Persian love triangle will unfold on the stage as part of Detroit Opera's 2022-23 season, its first back at the Detroit Opera House since COVID hit and first with its new name.

The season, announced Tuesday, opens Sept. 17 and will include four fully staged opera productions all new to Detroit, including its first ever international co-production — "Die Walküre: Act III" staged by Artistic Director Yuval Sharon; Osvaldo Golijov's "Ainadamar," an international co-production with Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera; Gounod’s "Faust"; and Tazewell Thompson’s staging of Handel’s "Xerxes." The season also will include a concert performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s beloved "Aida" and a "Detroit-specific" production devised by Sharon that will premiere in the summer of 2023.

“One of my ambitions for Detroit Opera is to make opera aspirational and accessible by bringing new unique voices to the table,” said Sharon in a press release. “I’m thrilled to work with (president and CEO) Wayne Brown, Christine Goerke and the entire Detroit Opera team to create a fresh, ambitious standard for opera in Detroit — one that reflects the creativity and vibrancy of a city that has always celebrated innovation and looking at things differently."

Tazewell Thompson's staging of Handel’s "Xerxes" from the Glimmerglass Festival will be part of Detroit Opera's 2022-2023 season.

The new season will mark Detroit Opera's first full season with its new name which was changed in late February to firmly root it in Detroit even though the Detroit Opera House has been its home for decades.

The new season also will be its first after extensive renovations to the Opera House, built in 1922, including a new elevator tower that will provide access to all six levels of the building, an upgraded HVAC system, additional ADA-compliant restroom facilities and auditorium upgrades.

The first production of the new season is a stand-alone presentation of Act III of Richard Wagner’s "Die Walküre," a co-production with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with Detroit Opera Associate Artistic Director Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde. Internationally renowned bass baritone Alan Held will make his Detroit Opera debut as Wotan. And Sir Andrew Davis, former Music Director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, will lead the Detroit Opera Orchestra. The three performances, Sept. 17-20, will be performed in its original German.

“I am thrilled to have 'Die Walküre: Act III' open our 2022–23 season and the opportunity to portray Brünnhilde on the Detroit Opera House stage in such a unique way,” said Goerke in a press release. “It is her courage and self-sacrifice that restores the universe to its natural order. It is my hope that the Detroit community will connect with the tenacity powered by her redeeming love.”

One of the season's most contemporary operas is "Ainadamar," which means "fountain of tears" in Arabic. After premiering in 2003, it will mark Detroit Opera's first international co-production with Opera Ventures and Scottish Opera. Composed by Osvaldo Golijov, it is the tragic story of legendary poet Frederico García Lorca, who was assassinated by fascists during the Spanish Civil War. 

“Something extraordinary is brewing in Detroit Opera,” said Golijov. “The confluence between the vision of its artistic direction and the community’s sense of ownership at this particular moment in the city’s history are generating a galvanic river of energy."

Detroit Opera's 2022-23 dance series, meanwhile, will feature five dance experiences, including  Alonzo King LINES Ballet, a reimagining of "The Nutcracker" by Mark Morris Dance Group's The Hard Nut, "Swan Lake" by Ballet Preljocaj, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a rare U.S. performance from the State Ballet of Georgia.