Local opera fans, rejoice — Vashon Opera will present an opera that is famously challenging for its principal singers, “Adriadne auf Naxos,” by Richard Strauss, on Friday, Sept. 2 and Sunday, Sept. 4, at Vashon Center for the Arts, launching its 2022-23 season.
The production, said Vashon Opera co-founder and artistic director Jennifer Krikawa, boasts a star-studded cast that is up for the intense demands of the score, including its signature arias of “Großmächtige Prinzessin” (“High and mighty princess”), “Es gibt ein Reich” (“There is a kingdom”) and “Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen” (“Love, hate, hope, fear”).
The lively opera-within-an-opera is filled with “bristling egos, egregious demands upon sensitive artistic temperaments, outrageous flirtations, callow compromises to commerce, trampled expectations, tragic heartbreak, emotional awakenings, and spiritual rebirth,” according to Vashon Opera’s program notes about the production.
Principals in the 17-member cast include, in the role of Ariadne, Marie Masters Webb — a singer The New York Times has called “immensely likable,” with a “warm, fresh soprano.” Most recently, she sang the role of Santuzza in Barn Opera’s critically acclaimed 2022 film of “Cavalleria Rusticana” and was a soloist with the 2022 company of Summer Opera Tel Aviv, performing opera scenes and concerts throughout Tel Aviv, Israel. In 2021, she appeared with Vashon Opera as Santuzza in “Cavalleria Rusticana” after singing Lady Billows in “Albert Herring” with the company.
Mezzo-soprano Grace Skinner, singing the role of The Composer, is the 2021 recipient of first place prize in the Seattle Opera Guild Singers’ Development Competition. She joined The Atlanta Opera in kicking off their 2021 season, covering the role of Giulio Cesare. In 2022, Skinner joined Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theater, performing in the ensembles of “The Magic Flute,” “The Tender Land,” and “Carmen.”
Tenor Errin Brooks, singing the role of Bacchus, is quickly gaining momentum as a tenor from Detroit, Michigan. Recently, Brooks made his company and role debut with Lakes Area Music Festival as Bacchus “Ariadne auf Naxos,” and with Des Moines Metro Opera, as Robbins in George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” Duane also covered Normanno in Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor” with The Metropolitan Opera after making his off-Broadway debut in “Intimate Apparel” at Lincoln Center Theater.
Tony Webb, in the roles of Brighella and The Dancing Master, has been praised by Opera News for his “fine comic flair and well-schooled voice.” Recent career highlights include his Carnegie Hall debut as Jack Prence (“Merry Mount”), Goro (“Madama Butterfly”) with Opera Colorado, Opera Idaho and The Princeton Festival, Harold “Mitch” Mitchell (“A Streetcar Named Desire”), Don Ottavio (“Don Giovanni”), and Pirelli (“Sweeney Todd”) with New Orleans Opera.
Baritone José Rubio, playing Harlekin, has recently had engagements that included debuts at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Berlin Staatsoper, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, and in Vienna at the Ronacher Theater. His operatic credits include the title roles in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” “Don Giovanni,” “Le Nozze di Figaro,” and “Gianni Schicchi.”
Hallie Schmidt, in the role of Zerbinetta, returns to her native Washington for Vashon Opera’s production. She has performed with Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Landlocked Opera, Painted Sky Opera, Heartland Opera Theatre, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, and was a member of the Teen Opera Studio at Seattle Opera while in high school.
Get tickets to see this assembly of artistry, directed by Vashon Opera stalwart James Brown in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” at vashonopera.org.