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Curtis Opera Theatre Performs Benjamin Britten's "Owen Wingrave" March 13, 15, and 17

From the mind and heart of "our greatest modern composer" (The Independent) emerges a stirringly beautiful chamber opera based on a short story by Henry James

Presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

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(February 13, 2013) A committed pacifist born into a renowned military family meets a torrent of disapproval over his beliefs in Benjamin Britten's Owen Wingrave. The Curtis Opera Theatre, in association with Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Opera Philadelphia, presents the stirringly beautiful chamber opera in the Perelman Theater on March 13, 15, and 17.

Based on a short story by Henry James, the opera tells the story of Owen Wingrave, a young man desperate to keep the love of his would-be bride and determined to prove his inner strength--even if it leads to his own mysterious end.

Sung in English, the fully staged production features the gifted young voices of the Curtis Opera Theatre, under Artistic Director Mikael Eliasen, and members of the Philadelphia Boys Choir. Britten's orchestral music, by turns spellbinding and terrifying, is brought to life by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, led by George Manahan. Director Daniel Fish makes his Curtis Opera Theatre debut with scenic designer Laura Jellinek, costume designer Tilly Grimes, and lighting designer Mark Barton.

Performances take place Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, March 15 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 17 at 2:30 p.m. in the Perelman Theater at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available from Opera Philadelphia at (215) 893-1018 or

Owen Wingrave is part of an innovative cooperative venture among Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Opera Philadelphia, and the Curtis Opera Theatre. Launched in 2008 with the Philadelphia premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar and continued with productions of Wozzeck (2009), Antony and Cleopatra (2010), The Cunning Little Vixen (2011), and Elegy for Young Lovers (2012), the initiative combines a Curtis Opera Theatre production with marketing support from Opera Philadelphia and an ideal venue at the Kimmel Center.

This production is funded, in part, through support from the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the William Penn Foundation.

The esteemed career of George Manahan (conductor) embraces everything from opera to concert, the traditional to the contemporary. Currently music director of the American Composers Orchestra and the Portland Opera, he won the prestigious Ditson Conductor's Award in 2012 for his support of American music. Mr. Manahan served as music director of the New York City Opera for fourteen seasons. As director of Orchestral Studies at the Manhattan School of Music and guest conductor at the Curtis Institute of Music, he continues to mentor young musicians. His previous Curtis Opera Theatre appearances include Antony and Cleopatra, Idomeneo, and Elegy for Young Lovers.

Mr. Manahan's guest appearances include the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the Hollywood Bowl; as well as the symphonies of Atlanta, New Jersey, and San Francisco. A regular guest with the Music Academy of the West and the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Manahan has also appeared with the Bergen and Casals Festivals. He has appeared with the opera companies of Seattle, Chicago, Santa Fe, and St. Louis; L'Opera National du Paris and Teatro Communale de Bologna; and with Minnesota Opera, where he served as principal conductor.

Mr. Manahan's television appearances include productions of La Bohème, Lizzie Borden, and Tosca on PBS. Under his direction, the Live from Lincoln Center telecast of New York City Opera's Madame Butterfly won a 2007 Emmy Award. 

Daniel Fish (stage director) is a New York-based artist working in theater, opera, and film. His work traffics in unlikely aesthetic combinations: revolutionizing revered dramatic classics (Shakespeare, Moliere, Odets, Rodgers and Hammerstein) through radically disorienting stagings; or finding theater where none was intended, as in the films of Nicholas Ray or the writings of David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen. His productions have been seen at theaters throughout the U.S. and abroad including the McCarter Theatre (Hamlet), Yale Repertory Theatre (Tartuffe), Classic Stage Company, Signature Theater, the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Incubator Arts Project, the Chocolate Factory, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, and Staatstheater Braunschweig.

Mr. Fish received B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has taught directing and design at the Yale School of Drama, Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Princeton University, Bard College, and the Juilliard School. Residencies include the Baryshnikov Arts Center, the Chocolate Factory, and LMCC on Governors Island. This production of Owen Wingrave marks his debut with the Curtis Opera Theatre.

The Curtis Opera Theatre, under the artistic direction of Mikael Eliasen, works with established professional directors and designers to create fresh interpretations of standard repertoire and contemporary works. All of Curtis's 25 voice and opera students are cast repeatedly each season, receiving a rare level of performance experience. As a result Curtis graduates have sung with opera companies all over the world, including La Scala, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper, Houston Grand Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Metropolitan Opera.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 165 students with full-tuition scholarships and personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. The school's distinctive "learn by doing" approach has produced an impressive number of notable artists since its founding in 1924. Curtis alumni hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra, and each season they are featured as guest soloists with the world's leading orchestras, opera houses, and chamber music series.

Curtis's innovative programs encourage students to perform often and hone 21st-century musical skills, and the school's facilities offer superb spaces for music-making, as well as state-of-the-art technologies to enhance learning. Students perform internationally with Curtis On Tour in addition to more than 150 performances in and around Philadelphia each year. When they graduate, they become musical leaders, making a profound impact on music around the globe.

Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. The Opera creates outstanding productions of both classic and new operatic works that resonate within the community, assembles the finest international creative artists, and presents a wide array of programming that educates, deepens, and diversifies the opera audience in Philadelphia and beyond. Performance offerings include large-scale works at the historic Academy of Music, intimate chamber operas as part of the Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater, and frequent community performances which focus on creative partnerships and enhanced accessibility. The 2012–13 season features remaining productions of The Magic Flute at the Academy of Music and the Philadelphia premiere of Thomas Adès' Powder Her Face and Curtis Opera Theatre's Owen Wingrave, both part of the Aurora Series at the Perelman Theater. For information, call 215-732-8400 or visit

Owen Wingrave is the sixth time that the Curtis Opera Theatre has joined with both Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in presenting opera at the Perelman Theater. Through this endeavor, the accomplished young artists at Curtis present an important piece of repertoire that is marketed to enthusiastic, opera-loving audiences at both Opera Philadelphia and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

Kimmel Center, Inc., a charitable, not-for-profit organization, owns, manages, supports, and maintains the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Verizon Hall, Perelman Theater, Innovation Studio, and the Merck Arts Education Center. Kimmel Center, Inc. also manages the Academy of Music, owned by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and the University of the Arts Merriam Theater. Our mission is to operate a world class performing arts center that engages and serves a broad audience which includes providing arts in education, community outreach, and a rich diversity of programming.  For additional information, visit Sponsored by TD Bank, America's Most Convenient Bank.

Curtis Opera Theatre: Owen Wingrave by Benjamin Britten
Presented in association with Opera Philadelphia and
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Aurora Series for Chamber Opera at the Perelman Theater

Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 15 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 at 2:30 p.m.

Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center, Broad and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia

George Manahan, conductor
Daniel Fish, stage director
Laura Jellinek, scenic designer
Tilly Grimes, costume designer
Mark Barton, lighting designer

Fully staged production with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Boys Choir, sung in English.

Tickets: available from Opera Philadelphia at (215) 893-1018 or

This production is funded, in part, through support from the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the William Penn Foundation.


Owen Wingrave   

(March 13 & 17) Julian Arsenault
(March 15) Jamez McCorkle

Spencer Coyle (March 13 & 17) Andrew Bogard
(March 15) Anthony Reed
Lechmere Spencer Lang
Miss Wingrave Shir Rozzen
Mrs. Coyle Rachel Sterrenberg
Mrs. Julian Anna Davidson
Kate (March 13 & 17) Jazimina MacNeil
(March 15) Nian Wang
Gen. Wingrave Roy Hage
Narrator Jarrett Ott

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