Q&A with Evans Mirageas, Opera Artistic Director


by Kayla Moore

Each summer Cincinnati Opera presents a full season of amazing operas. Tell us about your artistic planning process.

Season planning is dynamic, ongoing and long range. Each season needs an opera with a familiar title. We call them the ABCs of opera (short for Aida, Bohème and Carmen). The most familiar titles have proven to be a real draw for newcomers and, as they are masterpieces, we refresh each time we present them with new casts and productions. Beyond that, we have the advantage of more than one performing venue so we can “right size” the title with the venue. With the Corbett Theater at SCPA we’ve been able to expand our repertoire backward to the Baroque and forward to world premieres, at a production cost that allows us to take risks. Add to that our latest innovation of CONext, which calls for even smaller scale operas in unconventional performance spaces—the world is our oyster! We weigh numerous factors, asking “How recently has a title been presented by us? Is it a title we’ve never done? Can we engage the best interpreters of particular roles, and can we find a conductor worthy of leading our great partners in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra?” With new works, we look for collaborators in commissioning and producing from all across the country.

What programs did you decide to include for this 2019 summer season, and why did you choose them?

No summer is “typical,” but we’ve sort of hit the jackpot with this quintet of offerings for our 99th season. With Figaro we have a masterpiece, a humane comedy and a relatively familiar title beyond the core opera audience (thanks to the film Amadeus). Roméo et Juliette may be a less frequent visitor to our stage, but its connection to the Shakespeare original will encourage newcomers and core opera lovers alike. It is also an opportunity for the phenomenal Cincinnati Opera Chorus to shine. In Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos we have the SCPA theater as our ace in the hole. It is simply the right size space for this “chamber opera on steroids!” Blind Injustice continues our commitment to presenting brand new works that engage with important social topics of our time. Lastly, Porgy and Bess is our blockbuster and also the greatest American opera to date.

Which programs are you most looking forward to this summer?
It is like asking a parent of multiple children to name his or her favorite child! I make no secret that Mozart’s Figaro is the most nearly perfect opera ever written and my all-time favorite score.

The opera’s 100th anniversary season is coming up in 2020. Along with the beautiful programs, what do you have in store to commemorate this momentous anniversary?
We’ve already let the cat out of the bag on our titles for that season. It’s a balance of the familiar and two world premieres. I like to say we embrace the traditions and create the future. There will be special programs, recitals and commemorative events. We’re kicking things off with our annual Zoo concert in September, a recital by opera star tenor Stephen Costello in October, a gala before Thanksgiving to honor retiring CEO Patricia K. Beggs, and many more unique events leading up to our opening night in June 2020.

For details on this 2019 summer season and the 2020 100th anniversary season, please visit cincinnatiopera.org/2019 and cincinnatiopera.org/2020