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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Cincinnati Opera Celebrates Centennial With Saturday, June 27 Special

music hall
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Music Hall may be closed due to coronavirus, but the Cincinnati Opera is still celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The show must go on! With the coronavirus canceling the Cincinnati Opera's 100th anniversary season, opera fans can enjoy some of the company's greatest hits on WGUC this summer and a one-hour special about its history.

The celebration starts 1 p.m. Saturday, June 27, with Cincinnati Opera’s Beginnings, hosted by artistic director Evans Mirageas, on the anniversary of the first Cincinnati Opera performance June 27, 1920.

Credit Courtesy Cincinnati Opera
Artistic Director Evans Mirageas hosts "Cincinnati Opera’s Beginnings" 1 p.m. Saturday, June 27, on WGUC.

Mirageas will look at Cincinnati's love affair "with the opera since the early 1800s, not long after the city was founded. Mirageas will chronicle the rich—and sometimes hilarious—history of opera in the Queen City and the events that led to the creation of Cincinnati Opera in 1920," according to the program description. Cincinnati has the nation's second-oldest opera company.

"When we realized our stages would be dark this summer, we knew we couldn’t let our big birthday go by without some sort of celebration," Mirageas said in the media release. "The operas featured in this series represent some of our most extraordinary productions from recent seasons. We’re so grateful to our partners at 90.9 WGUC for keeping the music going!”

The centennial anniversary series will be broadcast both on air and online 1 p.m. Saturdays through July 25. Additional encores will air Sunday evenings in November to replace what would have been WGUC broadcasts of the 2020 season.

WGUC also is working with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra to feature recordings from last year’s Summermusik Festival on Music Cincinnati on August 16. 

Here's WGUC's summer opera schedule provided by the opera company and station:

Saturday, June 27, 1 p.m.: Cincinnati Opera’s Beginnings with Evans Mirageas.

2 p.m.: Elektra (2002).  Music by Richard Strauss; libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Sebastian Weigle, conductor. Nicholas Muni, stage director. Featuring Anja Silja, Deborah Polaski, Inga Nielsen, Robert Hale, Kenneth Garrison.

Based on the tragedy by Sophocles, Strauss’s Elektra traces the emotional struggles of its title character, a young woman whose father has been killed by her mother and her mother’s paramour. Elektra obsessively plots to avenge her father’s death, but upon its achievement is herself destroyed. The 2002 presentation marked the company’s first-ever production of the work and featured a star-studded cast.

Saturday, July 4, 1 p.m.: La Bohème (2017). Music by Giacomo Puccini; libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Louis Langrée, conductor. Natascha Metherell, stage director. Featuring Nicole Cabell, Jessica Rivera, Sean Pannikar, Rodion Pogossov, Nathan Stark, Edward Nelson.

For more than a century, Puccini’s most celebrated opera, La Bohème, has moved audiences to tears with its sweeping score of gorgeous melodies and timeless tale of young lovers in Paris. Cincinnati Opera presented this co-production with English National Opera. Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Music Director Louis Langrée conducted, becoming only the third CSO music director to conduct his orchestra for Cincinnati Opera.

Saturday, July 11, 1 p.m.: The Tales of Hoffmann (2006). Music by Jacques Offenbach; libretto by Michel Carre and Jules Barbier. Emmanuel Plasson, conductor. Mark Streshinsky, stage director. Featuring Vinson Cole, Philippe Rouillon, Nathalie Paulin, Sarah Coburn, Milena Kitic, Ruxandra Donose.

Offenbach’s one true opera, first performed in 1881, vaulted him into the realms of great operatic composers. A fantastic tale about a poet and the fates of his three true loves, The Tales of Hoffmann is, in many ways, a dark comedy, though it is flavored with an abundance of gorgeous musical moments.

Saturday, July 18, 1 p.m.: Fellow Travelers (2016). Music by Gregory Spears; libretto by Greg Pierce.  Mark Gibson, conductor. Kevin Newbury, stage director. Featuring Aaron Blake, Joseph Lattanzi, Devon Guthrie, Alexandra Schoeny, Marcus DeLoach.

The Cincinnati Opera presented the world premiere of Fellow Travelers during its 2016 Summer Festival. Based on the 2007 novel by Thomas Mallon, Fellow Travelers takes place in 1950s Washington, D.C., and follows Timothy Laughlin, a recent college graduate and devout Catholic eager to join the crusade against Communism. A chance encounter with a handsome State Department official, Hawkins Fuller, leads to Tim’s first job in D.C. and—after Fuller’s advances—his first love affair. As McCarthy makes a desperate bid for power and investigations focus on “sexual subversives,” Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his love for God, and his love for Fuller—an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal.

Saturday, July 25 1 p.m.:  Aida (2013). Music by Giuseppe Verdi; libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni.  Carlo Rizzi, conductor. Bliss Hebert, stage director. Featuring Latonia Moore, Michelle DeYoung, Antonello Palombi, Gordon Hawkins, Morris Robinson.

Rebellion is brewing at Egypt’s borders. Aida, an Ethiopian princess and prisoner of war, finds herself in love with her captor, and he with her. When he is commissioned to lead a battle against her people, Aida is torn between her love for him and for her country. The grandest of all operatic masterpieces, Verdi’s beloved Aida is infused with gorgeous melodies, bringing ancient Egypt to life through music such as the iconic “Triumphal March.”

Additional schedule and performance information can be found at wguc.org.

Editor's note: WGUC is WVXU's sister station. All of John Kiesewetter's reporting is independent and has only been edited for style and grammar.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.