Founded in 1972 as Albuquerque Opera Theatre by by Dr. Edward T. Peter and Maestro Kurt Frederick, Opera Southwest (OSW) produces quality, professional, enjoyable, and accessible opera in an intimate setting for audiences of all ages, to contribute to an educated, cultured, and economically diverse community of New Mexico. To date OSW has produced over 120 major operas for hundreds of thousands of patrons, including 23 world premieres, such as an opera based on Rudolfo Anaya’s blockbuster novel Bless Me, Ultima (February 2018).
Opera Southwest will open its 47th Season with the chance to hear and see Giovanni Bottesini’s Alì Babà, October 20, 25, & 27, 2019 at Albuquerque’s Journal Theatre. This work is based on the story of “Alì Babà and the Forty Thieves” from “One Thousand and One Nights,” and was originally premiered in 1871 at the Lyceum Theatre in London. OSW’s Artisti Director and Principal Conductor, the spirited young American conductor Anthony Barrese, has endeavored to maintain that authenticity in his work on the score and libretto, which he reconstructed from the composer’s original manuscript, and in the selection of the cast and creative team producing the opera.
Also during the 2019-20 season, Opera Southwest will also present Daniel Catán’s Il Postino (February 2, 7, & 9, 2020) conducted by Maestro Guillermo Figueroa, featuring “Rising Star” (Opera News) soprano Cecilia Violetta López. The opera—originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera in 2010 and based on the novel Ardiente Paciencia by Antonio Skármeta—tells the story of Pablo Neruda’s unlikely friendship with his postman on a tiny Italian island, set against Catán’s lush, Puccini-esque score. OSW will conclude its 47th season with Verdi’s classic tragedy, La traviata (March 22, 25, 27, & 29, 2020), with conductor Domenico Boyagian and director Octavio Cardenas.
After his appointment as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 2008, Maestro Barrese began an initiative at OSW to revive forgotten operatic works in 2015, beginning with Franco Faccio’s nineteenth century opera Amleto, based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which had not been heard since a revival at La Scala in 1871. Mr.Barrese spent a decade painstakingly researching and editing a critical edition of the 1865 opera, before its 2015 renaissance received international attention, including a nomination at the International Opera Awards 2015 in the Rediscovered Work category. OSW’s new production has since been remounted by Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Delaware.
As part of the company’s efforts to build future audiences for opera and the arts in general, Opera Southwest works with teaching artists, local schools and educators, and organizations catering to underserved groups to develop free or very low-cost presentations. Opera Southwest has brought these outreach programs and live theatrical performances to more than 180,000 children, helping to enhance academic performance and quality of life through music education.