This season, Tacoma opera and ballet audiences will get both favorite stories and new ones, as well as new venues, as Tacoma Opera and Tacoma City Ballet expand on their standard repertoire.
Expect Russian soloists in a black-box Tchaikovsky chamber opera; a new ballet about Pinocchio; and soloists, chorus, orchestra and dancers filling a newly-revamped Merlino Building ballroom with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
The ballet will continue its popular family-length in-house productions of “The Haunted Theatre” in the fall and the Storybook Ballet Theatre Fairytale Tea Party for Mother’s Day. It will also debut two new productions in the ballroom of the Merlino, which will be revamped next spring with a new stage, lighting grid, audience risers and more. In early March the theater will see a new family ballet “Pinocchio,” and in late March a neo-classical ballet set to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Ode to Joy,” complete with chorus, soloists and orchestra.
In between, the company will perform its usual holiday production of “The Nutcracker and the Tale of the Hard Nut,” in the Pantages Theater for the last time due to rental disputes with the Broadway Center. In the 2017-18 season, the ballet will move to the new Federal Way Performing Arts Center, still under construction.
The Tacoma Opera, meanwhile, will present two of its three productions in the Rialto Theater and the third in Theatre on the Square, the first time in several years that the company has used the black-box venue.
The two Rialto operas will be Puccini’s “La Bohème” in October and November and Offenbach’s sparkling comedy “La Périchole” in April and May. The Puccini is an audience favorite that the company last did in 2012, and this time stars company veterans Jon Farmer as Rodolfo, José Rubio as Marcello and Jessica Noronha as Musetta, with Seattle singer Kristin Vogel making her company debut as Mimi. The Offenbach, a family-friendly comedy about two poor Peruvian street singers, is full of Spanish flavor and includes dancers from Tacoma City Ballet performing the boleros, seguidillas and more. Singers include mezzo Caitlin McKechney, tenor Marcus Shelton and baritone Igor Vieira.
In February, the company will move to Theatre on the Square for Tchaikovsky’s melodic “Eugene Onegin,” the first time the company has done the work. Russian-American baritone Misha Myznikov will sing the title role of Onegin, a St. Petersburg dandy who flirts to make trouble, with Allison Pohl as the dreamy Tatyana, who falls for him but makes her life without him.
“This is one of the most beautiful and poignant operas ever written,” said company director Noel Koran, who will stage direct the show, in a press release. Koran chose the smaller theater as it is closer to the composer’s original intentions.
Koran has also announced that after a year of experimenting with extra shows, the company will now give three performances of each opera: the first on Saturday of opening weekend, the other two on the Friday and Sunday of the following weekend.
“The season has something for every taste,” he said.