Fall Arts Preview: Opera Tampa will premiere new opera by Anton Coppola, 101, and more

Chris Urso | Times (2017) Opera Tampa maestro Anton Coppola receives a standing ovation March 25, 2017, at a concert honoring his 100th birthday. His latest composition will debut in February, a month before he turns 102.
Argentinian conductor Jorge Parodi will conduct Georges Bizet's The Pearl Fishers for Opera Tampa, March 15 and 17, 2019. (Times files)
Joseph Mechavich, who will conduct Die Fledermaus, Opera Tampa's season opener Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, 2018, studies a score. (Courtesy of Joseph Mechavich)
Photo by Bobby Gutierrez Soprano Chelsea Lehnea, seen here as Marsinah, will play Donna Anna in Don Giovanni.
SeungHyeon Baek (left), shown here in March 2018 as Count Almaviva in Opera Tampa's The Marriage of Figaro, will play the title role in the St. Petersburg Opera's Gianni Schicchi, May 17-21, 2019. (Courtesy of the Straz Center)
Zoya Gramagin will play Cio-Cio (Butterfly) in the St. Petersburg Opera's production of the Puccini opera, Madama Butterfly, June 21-30, 2019. (Courtesy of Zoya Gramagin)
Michele Sexton plays Lili and Kate in the St. Petersburg Opera's musical, Kiss Me, Kate, Feb. 2-10, 2019. (Courtesy of Michele Sexton)
Thursday 6 September 2018 10.00

Have you decided yet which operas you’re going to compose after age 100?

If the prospect seems daunting (it does), consider that there is only one Anton Coppola, and only he expects this kind of productivity. Opera Tampa’s founding maestro celebrated his centennial birthday last year with selections from his own Sacco and Vanzetti, plus a revised ending to Turandot.

The world premiere of his latest composition, Lady Swanwhite, is in February, a month before Coppola, who was born March 21, 1917, turns 102.

The cinematic plot evokes everything big and romantic about opera. A king orders Princess Swanwhite to marry him. He sends a prince to school her in the royal ways, and you know the rest. The prince flees in a boat, but a storm capsizes it. Musical passions abound. Can he be saved?

Opera Tampa has not found an artistic director to succeed Daniel Lipton, who resigned in 2017 under a cloud of allegations that he had behaved inappropriately with female singers. The company will rely on guest conductors through 2018-19.


Across the bay, the St. Petersburg Opera Company is shaking up tradition, rescheduling its annual season-ending musical — Kiss Me, Kate this time — to run midseason, and extending Madama Butterfly to two weeks in June.

Despite state budget cuts, both companies are keeping heads above water, as is the Sarasota Opera, proving that the greater Tampa Bay area can still sustain three opera houses.

Here’s what’s in store this season.

Opera Tampa

Performs at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.

Die Fledermaus Nov. 30 and Dec. 2

Johann Strauss II’s lighthearted revenge comedy that gave us The Blue Danube waltz. Joseph Mechavich, who has conducted for the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Washington National Opera and many more in North America and Australia, conducts this one.


Lady Swanwhite Feb. 9

The world premiere of a quintessentially romantic opera by a lifelong lover of the genre. Sung in English.

ThePearlFishers March 15 and 17

Georges Bizet creates a love triangle among pearl divers in the Far East. Jorge Parodi, who conducted The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, returns.

La Boheme April 26 and 28

Giacomo Puccini’s story about starving artists, the precursor to Broadway’s Rent. Anthony Barrese conducts.

St. Petersburg Opera Company

Performs at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-2040.

Don Giovanni Oct. 19-23


Mozart’s archvillain is back to his old ways, as maestro Mark Sforzini returns to the conducting stand.

Seasonal Sparkle Dec. 18-19

Popular holiday songs mix with selections from The Nutcracker.

Kiss Me, Kate Feb. 2-10

Broadway’s take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew

Suor Angelica May 17-21

Two Puccini one-acts, Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, with a nun confronting her past and a family quarreling over an inheritance.

Madama Butterfly June 21-30

Puccini’s tragic romance is one of the world’s most popular operas. 


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