• Analysis of the 2012-2013 American opera season

    Here are the operas scheduled for the 2012-13 season in the United States by our main 103 opera companies (not counting in many cases, other smaller companies and opera-producing academic departments). Let's list them by number of productions, so that we can try to understand some trends.

    I've included musicals and operettas when they're being given by opera companies, since we are trying to look at the patterns of behavior of the opera companies during these times of economic crisis.

    The name of the opera is followed by a number - not of how many runs, but of how many companies are staging the opera this season (how many different productions) - so, an opera may be given by a company just twice on a Friday evening and Sunday matinée in some cases, or 10-12 times in other cases by a different, larger company, and each of these situations will count as *one* production in my numbers. So this is not a list of performances, but rather a list of productions.

    This list is more complete than the one recently published by Opera News Magazine, since I've included seasons of some companies that had not announced theirs yet, at the Opera News Magazine press time.

    La Bohème 14
    Don Giovanni 14
    Tosca 11
    Die Zauberflöte 11
    Madama Butterfly 11
    La Traviata 10
    Il Barbiere di Siviglia 10
    Le Nozze di Figaro 9
    Pagliacci 8
    La Cenerentola 7
    Rigoletto 7
    Il Trovatore 7
    Aïda 7
    Der Fliegende Holländer 6
    Don Pasquale 5
    Così fan Tutte 5
    Die Fledermaus 5
    Turandot 5
    Falstaff 4
    La Fille du Régiment 4
    Les Pêcheurs de Perles 4
    Lucia di Lamermoor 4
    Carmen 3
    Gianni Schicchi 3
    Die Walküre 3
    Hänsel und Gretel 3
    La Fanciulla del West 3
    Otello 3
    Roméo et Juliette 3
    Samson et Dalila 3
    Show Boat 3
    Sweeny Todd 3
    The Pirates of Penzance 3
    Un Ballo in Maschera 3
    Cavalleria Rusticana 2
    Camelot 2
    Cendrillon 2
    Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (Martínez) 2
    A Streetcar Named Desire (Previn) 2
    Akhnaten 2
    Amahl and the Night Visitors 2
    Anna Bolena 2
    Das Rheingold 2
    Der Kaiser von Atlantis (Ullman) 2
    Dialogue des Carmélites 2
    Faust 2
    Fidelio 2
    Giulio Cesare 2
    Götterdämmerung 2
    H.M.S. Pinafore 2
    I Capuleti e i Montecchi 2
    L’Elisir d’Amore 2
    L’Italiana in Algeri 2
    La Sonnambula 2
    Les Contes d’Hoffmann 2
    Macbeth 2
    Maria Stuarda 2
    Marrying Mozart – pastiche 2
    Otello (Rossini) 2
    Powder Her Face (Adès) 2
    Rinaldo 2
    Siegfried 2
    Suor Angelica 2
    The Fall of the House of Usher (Glass) 2
    The Turn of the Screw 2
    Un Giorno di Regno 2
    Actéon (M.-A. Charpentier) 1
    Andrea Chénier 1
    Angels in América (Eötvös) 1
    Ariadne auf Naxos 1
    Assassinio nella Cattedrale (Pizzetti) 1
    Bluebeard’s Castle 1
    Bon Appetit (Hoiby) 1
    Candide 1
    Champion (Blanchard) world premiere 1
    Charon (Perkins) world premiere 1
    Clemency (MacMillan) 1
    Curlew River 1
    Das Berliner Requien (Weill) 1
    Dead Man Walking 1
    Der Rosenkavalier 1
    Dido and Aeneas 1
    Die Lustige Witwe 1
    Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 1
    Don Carlo 1
    Don Quichotte 1
    Doubt (Cuomo) world premiere 1
    Dulce Rosa (Holdridge) 1
    Einstein on the Beach 1
    Elektra 1
    Eliogabalo 1
    Enoch (Montez) 1
    Eugene Onegin 1
    Faust 1
    Florencia en el Amazonas (Catán) 1
    Francesca da Rimini (Zandonai) 1
    Galileo Galilei (Glass) 1
    Glory Denied (Cipullo) 1
    Hamlet 1
    I Due Foscari 1
    I Lombardi 1
    Il Matrimonio Segreto 1
    Il Mondo della Luna (Haydn) 1
    Il Prigioniero (Dallapiccola) 1
    Il Tabarro 1
    Jephtha (Handel) 1
    Kismet 1
    L’Orfeo 1
    La Clemenza di Tito 1
    La Donna del Lago 1
    La Gazza Ladra 1
    La Périchole 1
    La Rondine 1
    La Vida Breve (Falla) 1
    La Voix Humaine 1
    Lakmé 1
    Lalla Roukh (David) 1
    Le Comte Ory 1
    Le Docteur Miracle (Bizet) 1
    Les Troyens 1
    Little Nemo in Slumberland (Hagen) 1
    Ma Mère L’Oye (Ravel) 1
    Maria de Buenos Aires (Piazzola) 1
    Mefistofele 1
    Moby Dick (Heggie) 1
    Mosè in Egitto 1
    Mrs. President (Bond) – world premiere 1
    My Fair Lady 1
    Nabucco 1
    Norma 1
    Of Mice and Men 1
    Olivio e Pasquale (Donizetti) 1
    On Rosenstrasse (Kingberg) world premiere 1
    Orphée aux Enfers 1
    Oscar (Morrison) world premiere 1
    Our Town (Rorem) 1
    Owen Wingrave 1
    Parsifal 1
    Part of the Act (Wade) world premiere1
    Pulcinella Suite (Stravinsky) 1
    Riders to the Sea (Vaugham Williams) 1
    Salome 1
    Scrooge & Gilbert and Sullivan (pastiche) 1
    Serse 1
    She Never Lost a Passenger (Kander) 1
    Silent Night (Puts) 1
    Simon Boccanegra 1
    Street Scene 1
    Susannah 1
    Tell-Tale Heart (Copeland) 1
    Thaïs 1
    The Aspern Papers (Argento) 1
    The Cunning Little Vixen 1
    The Difficulty of Crossing a Field (Lang) 1
    The Game of Hearts (Pew) world premiere 1
    The Gospel of Mary Magdalene (Adamo) world premiere 1
    The Grande Duchess of Gerolstein (Offenbach) 1
    The Kiss (Smetana) 1
    The Letter (Moravec) 1
    The Little Match Girl Passion (Lang) 1
    The Mark of Cain (Harris) world premiere 1
    The Martyrs (Pasatieri) world premiere 1
    The Mikado 1
    The Most Happy Fellow (Loesser) 1
    The Paper Nautilus (Brayars) 1
    The Prodigal Son (Britten) 1
    The Rape of Lucretia 1
    The Rise and Fall of the City Mahagonny 1
    The Scarlet Letter (Laitman) 1
    The Secret Garden (Gasser) world premiere 1
    The Tempest (Adès) 1
    The Threepenny Opera 1
    The Tragedy of Carmen (Bizet/Brook) 1
    This is the Rill Speaking (Hoiby) 1
    Tristan und Isolde 1
    Únicamente la Verdad (Ortiz) 1
    Van Gogh (Gordon) 1
    Werther 1
    Where the Wild Things Are (Knussen) 1

    So, some considerations. 381 productions of 178 different operas - less than in past years when we were in the mid 400s. This is not a very pleasant fact... but hopefully the economic crisis will pass and things will rebound again.

    World premieres = 12. A fair number for one country, but less than in the past - I've read in Opera America statistics up to 30 per year, although this may be in function of the fact that many of these premieres occur in academic departments which are not very represented here, with a couple of exceptions. So conceivably these 12 are not all that goes on in terms of world premieres.

    The first 13 operas are the usual repeated blockbusters. Nothing extraordinary there. Then there are a couple of surprising events:

    1-Der Fliegende Holländer with 6 productions, that's unusual. Most likely it's because of the Wagner bicentennial.
    2-Carmen got only 3 productions! Probably for the first time in ages, Les Pêcheurs de Perles got more productions than Carmen! And there was another obscure Bizet, plus a pastiche with Bizet. I'm pleased that the music of Bizet is being shown besides Carmen.

    I think that the number of Wagners is extremely disappointing. I mean, it's the bicentennial! We only get the first Wagner opera in position #14!

    So, let's tally how many Wagner productions:

    18 - including all four of the Ring, Der Fliegende Holländer, Meistersingers, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal. Big absences: Lohengrin and Tannhäuser. Why 6 Holländers and no Lohengrins or Tannhäusers? And like I said elsewhere, I'd love to have seen Die Feen, and Das Liebesverbot represented. What other best occasion to showcase these two neglected operas? Rienzi too, for that matter. So, overal, disappointing. Out of 381 productions, 18 Wagners - 4.7%.

    OK, it's Verdi's bicentennial too, so let's see if he fared better.

    50 productions - 13.1%
    Operas:
    La Traviata
    Rigoletto
    Il Trovatore
    Aida
    Falstaff
    Otello
    Un Ballo in Maschera
    Macbeth
    Un Giorno di Regno
    Don Carlo
    I Due Foscari
    I Lombardi
    Nabucco
    Simon Boccanegra

    So, 14 out of his 27... even though there are many more productions than for Wagner's operas, I still feel it's a bit disappointing. One doesn't really see a pattern of more exposure to his more obscure works in the bicentennial season; it's the usual suspects, with the exception of Un Giorno di Regno and I Due Foscari, maybe I Lombardi. Notable absences, La Forza del Destino, Luisa Miller, Ernani. Others like Attila, Stiffelio, I Vespri Siciliani could also have been included.

    Other interesting facts:

    No love for Norma??? Only 1 production!!!

    Il Tabarro seems to be the least loved of the Trittico, although it is my favorite!

    Pag beats Cav - a lot more productions of Pagliacci than Cavalleria Rusticana.

    Now let's see the proportion between blockbusters, regular repertory operas, and off-the-beaten path operas - of course, it will be my own tally and people might not necessarily agree with my criteria, but I believe that in terms of order of magnitude, it will be about the same as what other people would find with slightly different criteria.

    Blockbusters: 109 (I'm counting here the ABCs - Aida, Boheme, Carmem; the Trav/Rig/Trov; the top Mozarts, etc.)
    Regular Repertory: 162 (I'm counting here the core repertory to the exclusion of the above blockbusters, things like Faust, Werther, Macbeth, etc)
    Off the beaten path: 110 (The 12 world premieres plus several more obscure operas)

    The above is one of the things I've liked a lot in this season. It is sort of balanced with 109 blockbusters on one side, 110 rarities on the other, and 162 core repertory in the middle. Not bad, USA! This shows some vitality of the local operatic environment!

    Puccini with 51 productions beats Verdi with 50, even in Verdi's bicentennial!!

    Bellini is grossly under-represented with only 5 productions! So is Berlioz with 1!!!

    Mozart with 42 productions seems reasonably represented but when we look closer and see that only 6 of his operas are being given out of 22, it seems insufficient.

    20 Donizettis sounds about right.

    Rossini: 24 productions - maybe a bit under-represented given the vast explosion of his more obscure operas in Europe and on DVD.

    National traditions that are not popular in America:

    Russian opera is very, very, very poorly represented, with the grand total of... 1 production! One meager Eugene Onegin! Not even a Boris Godunov, not even a Pique Dame!!! Incredible! American opera companies, wake up, there is a vast country out there called Russia with a very big and important operatic tradition! Wow!

    39 productions of operas in French. Maybe not bad... but still, just about 10% of the total.

    65 productions of operas in English - this is not bad. A fair representation, and it is the language of the land, so, it's desirable and understandable that we got a fair share of operas in our language.

    So much for a Handel revival this side of the pond: only 6 productions!

    Only 6 productions in Spanish - 1.6%! This, in a country with a huge and growing Hispanic population, and centers like LA and Houston and states like New Mexico, New York, and Florida with a huge number of Hispanics. Sounds like an untapped market to me. Granted, there aren't many operas in Spanish... but there are lots of Zarzuelas in Spanish and they are popular in Mexico and Central America, so, I think American companies need to look into this market.

    With the exclusion of Zarzuelas, we have 18 productions of operettas and musicals = 4.7% - it looks like the American companies are not cutting corners and presenting lighter fare and musicals in significant numbers, to face the economic crisis. I like this.

    Important point: these are the seasons of the 103 main American opera companies. We have many more, smaller professional companies that present one opera per year and did not make the list, and many academic departments from universities and music colleges that are opera producing and present typically at least 2 operas per year, sometimes more. Just in my state (North Carolina) alone, the list above includes 4 professional companies, but there are 2 smaller ones, and at least 6 opera-producing academic departments. That is, of the at least 12 opera-producing local organizations, only 4 made the above list, and I believe that this is likely to be the case in most of the other 49 states.

    I invite others, if possible, to publish analyses of their own country's opera season. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the patterns in the USA and the pattern in other countries.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Analysis of the 2012-2013 American opera season started by Almaviva View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Schigolch's Avatar
      Schigolch -
      This is the situation in Spain, where the financial crisis is clearly having a big effect on the number of titles, and also (not such a big one) in the popularity of the repertory selected.

      Composer Opera Productions Type
      Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana 2 ABC
      Mozart Cosi fan tutte 2 R
      Puccini La Boheme 2 ABC
      Puccini Madama Butterfly 2 ABC
      Arrieta Marina 1 U
      Bartok Bluebeard's castle 1 R
      Bellini Il Pirata 1 R
      Berg Wozzeck 1 R
      Bizet Les Pecheurs de Perles 1 R
      Catan Il Postino 1 U
      Dallapicola Il Prigionero 1 U
      Donizetti L'elisir d'amore 1 ABC
      Donizetti Lucia di Lammermoor 1 ABC
      Donizetti Maria Stuarda 1 R
      Donizetti Roberto Deveareux 1 R
      Falla La vida breve 1 U
      Gaztambide El Juramento 1 U
      Glass The Perfect American 1 W
      Guridi El Caserio 1 U
      Handel Agrippina 1 R
      Handel Belshazzar 1 u
      Haydn Il Mondo della Luna 1 U
      Honegger Jeanne d'Arc*au bûcher 1 U
      Janacek Sarka 1 U
      Massenet Thais 1 R
      Massenet Werther 1 R
      Mercadante La rappresaglia 1 U
      Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail 1 R
      Mozart Die Zauberflote 1 ABC
      Mozart Don Giovanni 1 ABC
      Mozart Lucio Silla 1 U
      Mussorgski Boris Godunov 1 R
      Nebra Viento es la dicha de Amor 1 U
      Offenbach Les Contes d'Hoffmann 1 R
      Puccini Suor Angelica 1 R
      Puccini Tosca 1 ABC
      Puccini Turandot 1 ABC
      Rameau La Princesse de Navarra 1 U
      Rossini Il Turco in Italia 1 R
      Rossini William Tell 1 R
      Rusalka Dvorak 1 R
      Schonberg Moses und Aron 1 U
      Serrano La Reina Mora 1 U
      Sorozabal Entre Sevilla y Triana 1 U
      Szymanowsky Krol Roger 1 U
      Tchaikovsky Iolanta 1 U
      Verdi Don Carlos 1 R
      Verdi La Forza del Destino 1 R
      Verdi La Traviata 1 ABC
      Verdi Les vepres siciliennes 1 U
      Verdi Nabucco 1 R
      Verdi Rigoletto 1 ABC
      Verdi Un ballo in maschera 1 ABC
      Verdi Un giorno di regno 1 U
      Verdi Macbeth 1 R
      Wagner Das Rheingold 1 ABC
      Wagner Der fliegende Holländer 1 ABC
      Wagner Lohengrin 1 ABC
      Wagner Parsifal 1 R
      Wagner Rienzi 1 U
      Wagner Sigfried 1 ABC
      Wagner Tristan und Isolde 1 ABC
      Weil Street Scene 1 U
      Zemlinsky Eine Florentinische Tragodie 1 U

      Where "ABC" stands for core repertoire, "R" for repertorie, "U" for unusual and "W" for World premiere.


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