Tulsa Opera makes LGBTQ+ history

Baritone opera singer, Lucia Lucas. Photo provided.

Transgender baritone Lucia Lucas to hold title role in Don Giovanni

The Tulsa Opera will conclude its 2018–19 season this May by setting LGBTQ+ history. Their performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni will feature American-born, Germany-based transgender baritone Lucia Lucas in the title role.

This performance marks Lucas’ main-stage U.S. operatic debut and role debut.

She has performed in opera houses around the world, including Deutsche Oper Berlin, Dublin’s National Opera House, and Theater und Orchester Heidelberg.   

“I left my home country to perfect my craft, and I can’t wait to come home to share it with Tulsa,” said Lucas in a recent interview with NBC News. “In addition to simply my debut, I can’t wait to show off what I have learned over the 10 years since I left to pursue my career. I know this opera like the back of my hand, but this will be my first time in the title role.”

The Tulsa Opera tout’s excellence at producing bold, brave, and fresh productions of opera classics, and accomplishes this by identifying excellent young singers, then pairing them with conductors and stage directors who can improve their artistic talents. Their 2018-2019 Season is titled “An Era of Inclusion,” a season of performances which backs that statement.

“Making history, Tulsa Opera presents baritone Lucia Lucas in her American operatic debut,” said Tulsa Opera Artistic Director Tobias Picker. “Lucas’s appearance here will mark the first time a trans woman has performed a principal role on the operatic stage in the United States.”

Under the direction of Denni Sayers, this opera is staged in a recent, film noir-inspired production that sets the action in the shadowy streets and speakeasies of a mid-century American metropolis. Sayers returns to Tulsa Opera after directing 2016’s production of Les Pêcheurs de perles. She has also directed productions at the Canadian Opera Company, BBC Proms and in Tel Aviv.

A renowned choreographer, she has long-standing collaborations with many leading directors‚ including Francesca Zambello‚ Jonathan Kent‚ Niel Armfield‚ David Pountney, and the late Nikolaus Lehnhoff.

Uruguayan conductor Andrés Cladera leads the orchestra in his company debut. He is the Artistic Director of Opera Steamboat in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Tulsa Opera Chorus is directed by the company’s Chorus Master Lyndon Meyer.

In addition to Lucas, the cast comprises baritone Anthony Clark Evans (Leporello), who makes his company debut and has also appeared at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, and San Francisco Opera, among other companies. Additionally, bass and Tulsa Opera Resident Artist Hidenori Inoue (Commendatore), whose season also includes performances with Anchorage Opera, Opera Steamboat, and Virginia Opera.

The cast will also feature soprano and Tulsa Opera Resident Artist Karlye Whitt (Donna Anna); soprano Pamela Armstrong (Donna Elvira), who has performed with companies around the world, including the Dresden Semperoper, Metropolitan Opera, Paris Opera and Wiener Staatsoper. Additionally, baritone and Tulsa Opera Resident Artist Michael Gracco (Masetto), returns to Tulsa Opera after singing in February’s The Little Prince. The role of Zerlina to be announced.

This production of Don Giovanni was originally premiered in 2015 by the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. The premiere was directed by Kristine McIntyre with sets and costumes designed by Keith Brumley and Mary Traylor, respectively.

Don Giovanni tells the fictional story of a libertine and seducer based on the legends of Don Juan. With music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, the opera is performed in two acts.

Performances will be at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center on Friday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 5 at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit tulsaopera.com or call the box office at (918) 587-4811, ext. 100.

Tulsa Opera is the first performing arts organization established in Oklahoma and the 12th oldest opera company in North America, having been formed in 1947.

In addition to presenting a main stage season, the company fosters young talent through its Tulsa Youth Opera and Young Artist programs and promotes music education through outstanding initiatives such as Raise Your Voice!, a partnership with Tulsa Public Schools that brings music back into classrooms where music programs have been discontinued.

Tulsa Opera, throughout its history, has articulated the desire of local leaders to create and maintain a world-class city. Opera is in Tulsa’s DNA, and communication with opera patrons confirms that the Tulsa community has a robust—and now reinvigorated—commitment to the company’s success.

For more information, visit tulsaopera.com.

Performers for “Don Giovanni”: top row, left to right: Lucia Lucas, Anthony Clark Evans, Hidenori Inoue, Pamela Armstrong; Bottom row, left to right: Karlye Whitt, Michael Gracco, Andrés Cladera, Denni Sayers.

Performers for “Don Giovanni”: top row, left to right: Lucia Lucas, Anthony Clark Evans, Hidenori Inoue, Pamela Armstrong; Bottom row, left to right: Karlye Whitt, Michael Gracco, Andrés Cladera, Denni Sayers.

The Gayly. 4/14/2019 @ 12:10 a.m. CST.