Opera Grand Rapids Announces 50th Anniversary Season

photography by Jeff Roffman and Grand Lubell

On June 2, 1967, West Michigan audiences were given their first opera. 50 years and 128 operas later, Opera Grand Rapids returns to its beginnings with the same rousing, tuneful comedy.

Opera Grand Rapids will present a classically-staged production of “The Marriage of Figaro,” May 4 and 5, 2018 at DeVos Performance Hall, paying homage to its first-ever opera production.

Featuring Mozart at the height of his creative power, “The Marriage of Figaro” is considered by many to be the greatest opera of all time, owing to its sophisticated yet catchy music, and its poignant yet screwball story.

Opera Grand Rapids’ season also features a new rhythm and blues opera, an opera-crossover performance, and another quintessential Italian grand opera.

Scene from Rigoletto (photo by Jeff Roffman).

Opening the 50th anniversary season will be “Rigoletto” at DeVos Performance Hall, October 13 and 14, 2017, one of Giuseppe Verdi’s most memorable creations.

Powered by one recognizable melody after another, “Rigoletto” features elements of both tragedy and comedy. The story—based on the controversial play by acclaimed French writer Victor Hugo—includes a rapidly unfolding drama between a conniving court jester, a promiscuous duke, and an innocent daughter caught in their feud. When the jester seeks revenge, the audience learns who has the last laugh.

Taking the Opera Grand Rapids’ podium at DeVos Performance Hall will be Maestro James Meena, Opera Grand Rapids’ newly-appointed artistic director. Meena made his Opera Grand Rapids debut in 2005 with “La Bohème” and his Grand Rapids Symphony debut in 2015. His conducting has been called “awe-inspiring” (Voix des Arts of Mo), “spot on” and “the best I’ve ever heard” (Opera Magazine).

Opera Grand Rapids continues its community-centered programming next season with the premiere performance of Douglas Tappin’s “I DREAM.” The new semi-staged opera production recounts the inspiring life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., just 50-years after his tragic assassination. “I DREAM” will be presented at Fountain Street Church on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 15, 2018.

The story’s stirring portrayal of Dr. King’s most intimate moments is set to music that beautifully fuses opera with bluesy, jazzy, and gospel-tinged rhythms.

Closing Opera Grand Rapids’ anniversary season will be a celebration gala honoring 50 years of opera in the community. Opera Grand Rapids invites arts advocates to enjoy a special evening featuring musical guest, “America’s Got Talent” opera-crossover sensation, Forte.

The evening will feature a sit-down dinner-theater experience that pays tribute to Opera Grand Rapids’ vital role in fostering West Michigan’s vibrant arts community. Proceeds from the event support Opera Grand Rapids’ productions and programs year-round. More details are to be announced soon.

Tickets to “I DREAM” are $39 for adults and $5 for students. Tickets to performances at DeVos Performance Hall begin at $25 for adults and are $5 for students. Subscriptions for Opera Grand Rapids’ 2017-2018 season are available now through the Opera Grand Rapids Box Office, (616) 451-2741 or 1320 East Fulton Street. Individual tickets will go on sale August 15. For additional details on Opera Grand Rapids’ 2017-2018 season, visit operagr.org/2017-2018.

Opera Grand Rapids’ 2017-2018 Performance Schedule

October 13 & 14

Opera Grand Rapids presents Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi. DeVos Performance Hall. 7:30 pm.

  •  Tickets from $25; Student tickets $5

January 15 

Opera Grand Rapids presents I DREAM by Douglas Tappin. Fountain Street Church. 7:30 p.m.

  • Tickets $39; Student tickets $5

April 15

Opera Grand Rapids presents Collegiate Vocal Competition Concert. Betty Van Andel Opera Center. 7 p.m.

  • Open to the public
Scene from The Marriage of Figaro (photo by Grand Lubell).

May 4 & 5

Opera Grand Rapids presents The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. DeVos Performance Hall 7:30 p.m.

  • Tickets from $25; Student tickets $5

May 18

Opera Grand Rapids presents 50th Anniversary Night With The Opera Gala featuring Forte. Opera Grand Rapids. 5:30 p.m.

  • Tickets $250

About Opera Grand Rapids: Located in the heart of West Michigan, Opera Grand Rapids is the state’s longest-running professional opera production company. Through the creativity and excellence of this timeless art form, Opera Grand Rapids enriches the West Michigan community and provides unique and powerful experiences that move people of all ages and backgrounds. Opera Grand Rapids’ productions are produced and presented locally in West Michigan. For the productions, Opera Grand Rapids engages a cast of internationally-acclaimed artists, stage directors, conductors, choreographers, set designers, costume designers, and others, in addition to the regional Grand Rapids Symphony, and Opera Grand Rapids Chorus and Children’s Chorus.



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