Landmark Season Takes Soprano Deborah Voigt from Wild West to Valhalla and Broadway with Several Notable Firsts

Deborah Voigt’s 2010-11 season is truly remarkable – if not downright breathtaking – for its breadth and diversity, embracing iconic roles of the opera, concert, and Broadway stage, with several notable debuts along the way.  On the opera stage, she begins in October with her debut at Washington National Opera, where she will star as Richard Strauss’s Salome.  In December she takes on Minnie in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West) at the Metropolitan Opera, a production that marks the centenary of the opera’s debut there under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, as well as Voigt’s house debut in the role.  The following month, she reprises Minnie in a Lyric Opera of Chicago production – another house role debut for Voigt, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis.  In April, Voigt takes on one of the greatest opera roles in the repertoire for the first time: Brünnhilde in Robert Lepage’s highly anticipated new Metropolitan Opera production of Wagner’s Die Walküre, conducted by James Levine.  A spring gala for the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall in May will feature an evening of Broadway songs, a preview of sorts for a major event this summer when Voigt headlines the Glimmerglass Festival’s new production of Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun.  Voigt will be the festival’s first Artist-in-Residence, and, in addition to her portrayal there of Annie Oakley, she will also perform an evening of cabaret songs in a one-woman show written for her by award-winning playwright Terrence McNally.  Other season highlights include a Lincoln Center Fall Gala performance with the Dresden Staatskapelle and Daniel Harding, and Schoenberg’s harrowing monodrama, Erwartung, with David Robertson conducting the New York Philharmonic.

Deborah Voigt begins her busy season with her home company, the Metropolitan Opera, as a host rather than as a singer.  On Monday, September 27 Voigt hosts the company’s Opening Night, which features the debut of Das Rheingold, the first installment of the Met’s new production of Wagner’s complete “Ring” cycle, to be conducted by James Levine.  Voigt will greet VIPs on the red carpet from 6:15 to 6:45pm, as well as interviewing “Ring” director Robert Lepage.  The broadcast will be shown on big screens in New York’s Times Square and Lincoln Center Plaza.  Then, on October 9, Voigt hosts the Met’s first transmission of the season in its enormously popular The Met: Live in HD series, when Das Rheingold will be seen in 46 countries worldwide.

Voigt’s nine performances as Puccini’s “Fanciulla” (Dec 6 – Jan 8) – the pistol-packing, poker-playing barmaid in Puccini’s Gold Rush extravaganza – reprises a role that Voigt added to her repertory this past spring at San Francisco Opera.  The Associated Press reported on the occasion, “Both vocally and dramatically, the role is almost ideally suited to Voigt’s strengths – large, gleaming high notes…, and a stage presence that radiates an endearing charm, whether she’s teaching Bible class to the miners, cheating in a poker game against Sheriff Jack Rance, or riding in on a white horse to save her man.”  The December 10 performance takes place 100 years to the day after the work’s premiere at the Met.  The final performance of the Met run will be seen worldwide in The Met: Live in HD series.

Long heralded as the leading dramatic soprano of our time, Voigt climbs another operatic peak at the Met this season, when she takes on Brünnhilde – one of the most challenging roles, and arguably the most famous in opera – in Wagner’s Die Walküre for the first time (seven performances, April 22 – May 14).  The final performance will also be in The Met: Live in HD series.  Voigt’s first public performance of any of Brünnhilde’s music was at the Tanglewood Festival in July 2005, when James Levine led the students of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in an all-Wagner program that included Act III of Götterdämmerung.  The New York Times was on hand and called her performances, “blazingly powerful, deeply expressive, and, as always, musically scrupulous.”  Voigt’s widely hailed portrayals of the great Wagner heroines at the Met have included such signature roles as Sieglinde in Die Walküre, Elisabeth in Tannhaüser, Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, and, most recently, Senta inDer fliegende Holländer.

Voigt’s debut at Washington National Opera will be in a new production of Richard Strauss’s Salome (seven performances, Oct 7-23) directed by Francesca Zambello.  It was Zambello who collaborated with Voigt on her enormously successful staged role debut as Salome in a production at Lyric Opera of Chicago in October 2006.  TheChicago Tribune reported, “Her singing was gleaming and voluptuous, its power and warm, womanly vocal quality undiminished. … Voigt poured out the grueling final scene in a mad exultation of opulent, radiant tone.”  Voigt’s nine “Fanciulla” performances (Jan 22 – Feb 21) at the company this season will be in an updated production by Harold Prince directed by Vincent Liotta.

A dazzling diversity characterizes Voigt’s work this season off the opera stage.  Highlights include Beethoven’s scene and aria, “Ah, perfido!” with the Dresden Staatskapelle at Avery Fisher Hall (Nov 1); a private benefit concert at the legendary Café Carlyle on behalf of “The WQXR Campaign: Saving Classical Music on the Radio in New York City” (Nov 7); an appearance at the annual Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala (Nov 14); “Something Wonderful: An Evening of Broadway with Deborah Voigt,” a concert and spring benefit with the Collegiate Chorale at Carnegie Hall featuring the Tony Award-winning baritone Paulo Szot as special guest (May 19); and Schoenberg’s one-act, one-woman monodrama Erwartung with the New York Philharmonic (June 9-11).

Next summer, Voigt returns fully to her roots when she sings the title role in Irving Berlin’s beloved musical Annie Get Your Gun at the Glimmerglass Festival (14 performances, July 16 – Aug 21).  Voigt has long spoken fondly in interviews about her early days as a performer singing musical theater in high school productions, and throughout her career has performed Broadway songs as encores in recital programs, in special benefit concerts, and, in recent seasons, in Lincoln Center’s celebrated “American Songbook” series.  Reviewing a benefit concert for New York Theatre Workshop that featured Voigt performing with leading men of Broadway,Opera News enthused:

“She cut loose with an evening of arias and show tunes, opposite leading men Patrick Wilson, Malcolm Gets, Adam Pascal, Tom Wopat, and Howard McGillin… . She gave her all in songs ranging from ‘Till There Was You’ to ‘Ice Cream (She Loves Me)’ to ‘Do I Hear a Waltz?’  Her most stunning moment came from her encore, a tender and moving rendition of Janis Ian’s ‘Stars.’  She showed sharp comic timing throughout the evening; this wasn’t an opera star condescending to her material, but a Broadway baby at heart who was relaxed, sassy, and having fun.”

Voigt expressed her delight with taking on Annie – a role inhabited by theater legend Ethel Merman and, more recently, such talents as Bernadette Peters and Reba McEntire:

“Fifty or 60 years ago, these big, classic American musicals were originally scored with very large orchestras, and there was certainly no sound amplification.  It will be exciting to sing Annie this way, and I’m certain that our audiences will find it very satisfying to hear the orchestra and the singing performed the way it was intended.”

Looking ahead to the thrills of such a wide-ranging season, Voigt might respond with the title of one of the best-known songs from “Annie”: “There’s no business like show business!”

Deborah Voigt: 2010-11 engagements

October 7
Washington, D.C.
Debut at Washington National Opera
Richard Strauss: Salome (Salome)
New production by Francesca Zambello; conducted by Philippe Auguin
Additional performances: Oct 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, & 23

November 1
New York, NY
Beethoven: “Ah, perfido!”
Dresden Staatskapelle / Daniel Harding
Part of Lincoln Center’s Fall Gala at Avery Fisher Hall

November 7
New York, NY
Cabaret performance at Café Carlyle
Private benefit concert on behalf of “The WQXR Campaign: Saving Classical Music on the Radio in New York City”

November 14
Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala

December 6
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Puccini: La fanciulla del West (Minnie; house role debut)
Marking the 100th anniversary of the opera’s world premiere at the Met
Additional performances: Dec 10, 14, 18, 22, 27, & 30; Jan 3 & 8m
Jan 8 performance will be in Met: Live in HD series

December 8
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera Guild Community Center
Interview with F. Paul Driscoll, Editor-in-Chief, Opera News

January 22
Chicago, IL
Lyric Opera of Chicago
Puccini: La fanciulla del West (Minnie; house role debut)
Harold Prince production directed by Vincent Liotta; conducted by Sir Andrew Davis
Additional performances: Jan 26m & 29; Feb 4, 9, 12, 15, 18m, & 21

April 22
New York, NY
Metropolitan Opera
Wagner: Die Walküre (Brünnhilde; role debut)
New production by Robert Lepage; conducted by James Levine
Additional performances: April 25 & 28; May 2, 5, 9, & 14m
May 14 performance will be in Met: Live in HD series

May 19
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
“Something Wonderful: An Evening of Broadway with Deborah Voigt”
Concert and spring benefit with the Collegiate Chorale
Featured guest artist Paulo Szot
American Symphony Orchestra / Ted Sperling

June 9-11
New York, NY
Schoenberg: Erwartung 
New York Philharmonic / David Robertson
Avery Fisher Hall

July 16
Cooperstown, NY
Irving Berlin: Annie Get Your Gun (Annie)
Glimmerglass Festival
Additional performances: July 18m, 22, 24m, & 30;
Aug 2m, 4, 6m, 9m, 12, 15m, 18, 20m, & 21m

July 29
Cooperstown, NY
“The Singer and The Song: A Cabaret”
Glimmerglass Festival


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