Charlottesville Opera, the recently renamed Ash Lawn Opera, kicks off its 40th season with the East Coast premiere of Middlemarch in Spring, a new chamber opera that asks the question: Does love get a second chance?
With powerful imagery and compelling music, Middlemarch in Spring evokes an unforgettable spring in the English town of Middlemarch, one of passionate love and political upheaval. Based on George Eliot’s Middlemarch by composer Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens, the 2015 world premiere was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as a “sunny, ingratiating and altogether effective piece of musical theater.” Charlottesville Opera’s production features several members of the debut cast, including world-renowned bass-baritone Philip Skinner, a veteran of many productions at the San Francisco and Metropolitan Operas, as the shallow and cruel scholar Casaubon, who marries the idealistic but naive Dorothea, performed by Sara Duchovnay, praised by Opera News for her “beautiful upper register.”
This production marks our first collaboration with the Virginia Festival of the Book, which will be held in Charlottesville from March 22-26, 2017. Ticket holders will be invited to hear enlightening lectures an hour before each performance, by librettist Claudia Stevens before the March 23 performance and by Rebecca Mead, staff writer for the New Yorker and author of My Life in Middlemarch, a personal account of the novel’s importance in Mead’s life, before the March 24 performance.