Comprised of the works Eden, Dormir and House, San Diego Opera is excited to present the world premiere of these operas. Eden, which features a libretto by director John De Los Santos, explores the boundaries of madness and obsession and is a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. Dormir, libretto by Michael Vegas Mussman, is an imaginative exploration of what might happen when Old World spiritual practices meet the Christian belief system, when portals open and unknown, powerful entities appear. House, with a libretto by the composer, explores the idea that trauma haunts many of us, and that trauma remains in our bodies like ghosts.
Ghosts welcomes the return of mezzo-soprano Emily Fons. Directed by John de los Santos and conducted by Bruce Stasyna.
San Diego Opera debut. Composer, opera educator and pianist Nicolas Reveles began his composing career at the age of 8 by entering a Young Composer’s Competition for the San Diego Symphony in 1956, taking away second place and having the honor of his composition (Arabian Dance) performed by the symphony at a Young People’s Concert. He continued to compose for the piano, and in a long career as an organist and choirmaster, he produced numerous sacred works for choir, congregation and organ. His compositions were featured during the visit of Pope John Paul II to California (Monterey) in 1987. Many of his sacred works, including The Passion According to St. John for chorus, soloists, string quartet and percussion, were published by Cooperative Ministries in Washington, DC. His first two operas, with librettist J. Sherwood Montgomery, The Sleeping Beauty and Rumpelstiltskin, were written for family audiences and were performed over four touring seasons by the San Diego Opera Ensemble (2004-2008). His theatre credits include scores and musical arrangements for The Old Globe Theatre, North Coast Repertory Theatre and Arizona Repertory Theatre, where his mariachi score for Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro was cited ‘Best Musical of the Year’ by the Arizona Republic. His opera Sextet: A Queer Opera in Six Scenes for Six Singers was produced by Diversionary Theatre in 2010 through a grant given by the Irvine Foundation (2010). A fully orchestrated version of Rumpelstilstkin was produced by Lyric Opera San Diego the same year. His opera Aftermath (music and libretto both by the composer) is being produced by Bodhi Tree Concerts for the San Diego International Fringe Festival in June 2022. Ghosts includes his fifth, sixth and seventh operas: Eden (librettist John De Los Santos), Dormir (librettist Michael Vegas Mussman) and House, to the composer’s own libretto.
American mezzo-soprano Emily Fons made her Company debut as Zerlina in 2015’s Don Giovanni and returned as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro in 2018, and Rosina in The Barber of Seville in 2021. Notable appearances include Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain for the world premiere at Santa Fe Opera and again for Opera North Carolina, Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking for Kentucky Opera, the title role in Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortilèges, with the Berlin Philharmonic, and in Japan as part of the Seiji Ozawa Music Academy in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nagoya, the title role in Cinderella for Opéra de Lille, Stéphano in Roméo and Juliette with the Santa Fe Opera, Cherubino for the Canadian Opera Company and The Dallas Opera, Dorabella in Opera Omaha’s Così fan tutte, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with the Florentine Opera, the title roles in Handel’s Susanna and Faramondo with the International Händel Festspiele, Sièbel in Faust with the Atlanta Opera, Prince Orlowsky in Die Fledermaus, and Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann with Chicago Opera Theatre. She made her European debut in the role of Megacle in Vivaldiʼs LʼOlimpiade with Garsington Opera. She also appeared as Sesto in Michigan Opera Theatreʼs production of Julius Caesar. From 2010-2012 Fons was a member of the Ryan Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago where she portrayed, among others, Fyodor in Boris Godnuov, Mercedes in Carmen, and Peep Bo in The Mikado.
John de los Santos
Director/choreographer John de los Santos made his choreography debut in 2016 with Great Scott and his Company directorial debut with 2018’s Maria de Buenos Aires. He has staged a range of productions that include opera, musicals, plays, ballet, concerts, and workshop readings. His productions include the world premiere of The Astronaut Love Show at the Kraine Theater, The Rose and the Knife and Le Comte Ory for LoftOpera, La Cage Aux Folles for Skylight Music Theatre, The Daughter of the Regiment for Arizona Opera, Carousel for Ashlawn Opera, María de Buenos Aires for Lexington Philharmonic, and Green Sneakers for the Southside Theatre. He choreographed the world premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Great Scott, directed by Jack O’Brien, for The Dallas Opera. His choreography has also been seen at the Washington National Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Des Moines Metro Opera, Utah Festival Opera, and Austin Lyric Opera. As a librettist he worked with composer Clint Borzoni for When Adonis Calls, which was selected for inclusion in Fort Worth Opera’s Frontiers showcase, and then performed in concert by operamission in New York. John’s new collaboration with Borzoni, The Copper Queen, won the top prize Arizona Opera’s commission program, Arizona SPARK. He was then commissioned by Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative to create a new original work with composer Christopher Weiss. The resulting piece, Service Provider, premiered at The Kennedy Center in 2015. In 2003, he became the resident choreographer for the Fort Worth Opera, where his choreography has been seen in Rigoletto, Salome, La traviata, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the world premieres of Frau Margot and Before Night Falls. John then made his directing debut with the company with a 2009 production of Carmen, followed by The Mikado and The Pearl Fishers. In 2010 he made his choreographic debut for The Dallas Opera with Don Giovanni. John has served on the directing faculty of the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake, NY, where his productions have included Anything Goes, Crazy for You, The Medium, The Fantasticks, The Mikado, La bohème, Guys & Dolls, Brigadoon and L’Italiana in Algeri. John has also coached young artists with the Washington National Opera, Arizona Opera, Fort Worth Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera, and served on the faculty of the KD Conservatory of Film and Dramatic Arts in Dallas.
Conductor Bruce Stasyna made his Company conducting debut with As One in 2017 and returned to conduct Maria de Buenos Aires in 2018 and conducted One Amazing Night with Stephen Costello and Stephen Powell in 2019. He has been on the conducting rosters of the New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Sugar Creek Opera, and has held positions as Chorus Master for New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Wolf Trap Opera and Des Moines Opera. He was Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for the Green Mountain Opera Festival, and Head of Music and Director of the Young Artist Program at Palm Beach Opera. He has collaborated on many notable North American premieres including Anna Nicole, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orazi e Curiazi, and Joseph Merrick dit Elephant Man. As a pianist he has concertized with such artists as Marcello Giordani, Deborah Voigt, J’nai Bridges, Irene Roberts, Marina Costa-Jackson, and Richard Troxell. The Canadian born conductor is currently the Chorus Master and Music Administrator for San Diego Opera, Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor for Washington Concert Opera, and Music Director of Vero Beach Opera.
Synopsis for Eden
1950: A solitary bachelor named Clay has amassed an enormous collection of paintings, with space for only one remaining. His friend and art-dealer Granada gifts him an unusual canvas that depicts a strange, leafless tree that seems to reach for the viewer. Clay is so overjoyed by his completed hoard of art that he stops leaving the house, neglecting his work and health. His impatient cousin, Sondra, arrives to demand answers, and before storming out, informs Clay that Granada has disappeared. All the other paintings slowly begin to change. A doctor arrives to diagnose Clay but becomes violently ill when he touches Clay’s new painting. Alone again, Clay’s world and paradise wither into a diseased hell, all while the leafless tree continues to reach for him.
Synopsis for Dormir
Yadira, a caregiver originally from Mexico, tries patiently to get Mr. Costello into bed for the night, but he resists and insults her. Costello accuses her of conspiring to kill him, then finally, exhausted, he collapses in sleep. Alone, Yadira reminisces about her upbringing in Mexico, the mysterious legends and tales told her by her grandmother. She remembers that tonight is June 21st, “la noche de San Juan”, the Feast of John the Baptist and the summer solstice. Yadira’s son, Javier, with whom she has been planning to murder Costello, arrives. He is ready to do the deed and save his mother from her abusive employer. While she vacillates, Javier urges her to let him do it. She finally nods, ‘yes.’ Javier enters the bedroom and smothers Costello with a pillow. Almost as soon as her son leaves, Yadira is overwhelmed with guilt. She hears strange noises and a voice that sounds like the old man calling her name. Was the murder successful? Is he really dead? Does she dare go into his room to discover the truth for herself?
Synopsis for House
A car pulls up to an old, two-story house in the dead of winter. The location is Providence, Kentucky, in the country. An unnamed woman steps out of the car, retrieves her luggage from the trunk, then walks her two children up the steps to the house. The three of them settle in and retire for the night. Trying to sleep, the woman hears a mysterious scratching which at first, she can’t identify. Mice? Rats behind the walls, or under the floorboards? Spring arrives and the garden surrounding the house bursts into life. The woman sees a lone figure, a man…perhaps a caretaker or gardener…wander through the yard. She thinks perhaps he can help her with the house, the yard…maybe even the mysterious nightly sounds. Approaching him she seems to get no response, but she gives him instruction about the garden and asks him to return. At night, the scratching persists. One day while waiting for her mysterious gardener, she sees something extraordinary, something that both attracts and repels her. Then she remembers…