This annual event is always fun, and underlines the competitive, even athletic aspect of the opera universe. This contest is not just about ringing high notes. Bel Canto, literally "beautiful singing," is about the artistry, as well, and AVA wouldn't have it any other way.
Academy of Vocal Arts, Oct. 2, Perelman Theater, 260 S. Broad St., 215-735-1685, www.avaopera.org.
Cosi has always been the quiet third child in the famous trilogy of operas that Mozart wrote with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, lacking the fire of Don Giovanni and the rollicking ebullience of Figaro. It is the most intimate of the three, quietly, but deeply passionate, and as elegant an opera as Mozart penned, which is to say, as elegant an opera as there is.
Academy of Vocal Arts, Nov. 10, 13, 15, 17, 27, 29, Dec. 1, Helen Corning Warden Theater, 1929 Spruce St., 215-735-1685, www.avaopera.org.
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This 19th-century German folk opera, very popular in the land of its origin, is here staged for the first time by OCP. Despite the work's roots in juvenilia, it is not without dark corners, and the score is big and lush, even Wagnerian.
Opera Company of Philadelphia, Nov. 14, 16, 18, 23, 25, Academy of Music.
Nobody of critical mettle is going to deny the overwhelming magnificence of Figaro. But can we not have some variety on the meager Philadelphia opera scene? Can we take a Figaro break after this one? If, as in New York, there were 100-plus opera performances in a season, then a few Figaros would be expected, even welcomed. This is, after all, the single opera that is widely acknowledged as the epitome of the artform. OK, so here it is, and there are a couple of reasons why this production is one to attend. The wonderful Curtis students are, chronologically, right in line with Mozart's characters. This gives the drama a special vividness. And then there is the collection of talent that Curtis brings to bear on the production, including director Chas Rader-Schieber, always a bold and thoughtful choreographer of dramatic conceptions.
Curtis Opera Theatre, Nov. 15-18, Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut St., 215-893-7902, www.curtis.edu.
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It's hard to imagine this blazing masterpiece as overexposed, but it has been heard here often in recent years. Certainly, if any opera newbies do not know this multilayered gothic tearjerker, get thee to the theater. This is Verdi at the peak of his creative powers, creating a myriad of compelling characters joined together by an astonishingly rich chain of melodies.
Opera Company of Philadelphia, Oct. 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad St., 215-732-8400, www.operaphilly.com.
Leave it to Temple to come up with the most interesting opera programming for the fall season. Both of these 20th-century one-acters have a fantastical, colorful aura, well-suited for the large, joyous productions that Jamie Johnson tends to favor.
Temple University Opera Theater, Nov. 30, Dec. 2, Tomlinson Theater, 1301 W. Norris St., 215-204-7600, www.temple.edu/boyer.
This is the very popular annual AVA singfest organized by Russian language coach Gennady Meirson, who leads the event most expertly from the piano. As with all of AVA's opera productions, the songs and opera arias will be sung in the original language with projected supertitles in English translation.
Academy of Vocal Arts, Dec. 11-12, Helen Corning Warden Theater.