Seattle Opera - Semele

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Seattle Opera.

Semele

Feb. 21 - Mar. 7, 2015

Overview

By George Frederic Handel

ENDLESS PLEASURE. ENDLESS LOVE. In Handel’s sensuous and sparkling charmer, an unsophisticated but ambitious maiden journeys outside her comfort zone to the rarefied realm of the “beautiful people.” Elegant and expressive, this all-new production stars the incomparable Stephanie Blythe as Juno, the goddess queen bent on teaching the interloper a lesson. Highlighting the opera’s universal themes and sense of play, our debut presentation of this early work explores what it means to live life to the fullest.

In English with English subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Approximate Running Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes with 2 intermissions

Audio described performance for visually impaired patrons available on Sunday, February 22. Description begins 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the matinee.

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Synopsis

ACT I
The Temple of Juno, Queen of the Gods, wife of Jupiter.
 Semele, daughter of Cadmus, is engaged to marry Athamas, and the family gathers to celebrate the nuptials. Not everyone is happy, however; Semele's sister, Ino, secretly loves Athamas. And Semele herself is really in love with the god Jupiter, also known as Jove. She prays to him to intervene, whereupon the Mighty Thunderer breaks up the wedding with dreadful omens.

Privately, Ino admits that she loves Athamas. Cadmus interrupts them to say that Semele was abducted and whisked away to the realm of the gods. There Semele discovers a world of "Endless pleasure, endless love."


ACT II
Juno's Dwelling.
 The goddess Iris tells Juno (who is also known as "Saturnia") about the gorgeous pleasure-palace Jupiter has created for Semele. Juno vows to destroy her new rival. In the aria "Hence, Iris, away," she and Iris set out on their quest: Juno plans to enlist the help of Somnus, god of sleep.

Semele's pleasure-palace. Meanwhile, Semele is troubled (Aria: "O sleep, why dost thou leave me?"). Jupiter has taken human form to be with her, but she is aware that she is a lesser order of being than her divine lover. Jupiter reassures her that he will protect her and always surround her with beauty (Aria: "Where'er you walk"). To distract her, he takes her to a beautiful garden and has her sister Ino brought up from earth to keep her company. Together the two sisters experience heavenly bliss.


ACT III
The cave of Somnus.
 Iris and Juno try to rouse the sleepy Somnus, who responds with the aria "Leave me, loathsome light." But when Juno promises him the nymph of his dreams, Pasithea, Somnus agrees to help Juno. Somnus will weaken Jupiter with uncontrollable lust and lock in sleep both Ino and the dragons that guard Semele's palace.

Semele's palace. Disguised as Ino, Juno gives Semele a magic mirror, which makes her fall in love with herself (Aria: "Myself I shall adore"). Juno-as-Ino tells Semele that if Jupiter makes love to her in his divine form, instead of his mortal disguise, Semele herself will become a goddess. She urges her "sister" not to waste this opportunity, and Semele takes the bait.

When Jupiter returns, Semele makes him swear he'll give her anything she desires. Then she demands that he appear to her in his divine form. Jupiter is horrified by the request: "Should I grant your request, I shall harm you." But there is no dissuading her (Aria: "No, no, I’ll take no less / Than all in full excess!"). Reluctantly, Jupiter appears in his true form, and Semele is consumed by flames.

Back on earth, everyone is terrified by Semele's fate. Ino unites with Athamas, and Apollo announces that from Semele's ashes, Bacchus, the god of wine, will be born.

 

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Spotlight Guide

Discover more about Semele; it's history, its composer, and its inspiration.

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Ways to Save

Seattle Opera believes in opera for all. There are many ways to attend for less, including $25 tickets for every performance; up to 35% off with season ticket packages; special pricing for patrons age 21-39; and student, senior, military, teen, and group discounts.

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Cast

Brenda Raee

Semele

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Semele, Semele

Hometown: Appleton, WI
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Norina, Don Pasquale (Santa Fe Opera); Aminta, Die schweigsame Frau (Bayerische Staatsoper); Amina, La sonnambula (Oper Frankfurt)
Upcoming: Konstanze, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Hamburgische Staatsoper); Zerbinetta, Ariadne auf Naxos (Staatsoper Berlin); Donna Anna, Don Giovanni (Oper Frankfurt)


Click here to read an interview with BRENDA RAE on our blog

Last updated: February 2015

Brenda Raee

Semele

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 21, 25, 28, Mar. 4 & 7

Mary Feminear

Semele

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Semele, Semele

Hometown: Auburn, AL
Seattle Opera Debut
Recent: Maria Maddalena, La Resurrezione (Juilliard 415), Aréthuze and Proserpine, La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers (Gotham Chamber Opera), Polissena, Radamisto (Juilliard Opera)
Upcoming: Pamina, Die Zauberflöte (Pacific Music Works), Helena, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Le Grand Théâtre de Genève)

Last updated: December 2014

Mary Feminear

Semele

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 22 & Mar. 6

Alek Shrader

Jupiter/Apollo

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Jupiter/Apollo, Semele

Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Seattle Opera Debut
Recent: Camille de Rosillon, The Merry Widow (Metropolitan Opera); Emilio, Partenope (San Francisco Opera); Ernesto, Don Pasquale (Santa Fe Opera)
Upcoming: Tonio, La fille du regiment (Santa Fe Opera); Count Almaviva, Il barbiere di Siviglia (Canadian Opera Company)

Last updated: February 2015

Alek Shrader

Jupiter/Apollo

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 21, 25, 28, Mar. 4 & 7

Theo Lebow

Jupiter/Apollo

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Jupiter/Apollo, Semele

Hometown: Sierra Madre, CA
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 2012/13
Seattle Opera Debut: First Prisoner, Fidelio (’12)
Recently: Ruiz, Il trovatore (Opera Sacramento); Picasso/F. Scott Fitzgerald, Twenty-Seven (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Mr. Porcupine, Fantastic Mr. Fox (Opera San Antonio and Boston Modern Opera Project/Odyssey Opera)  
Upcoming: Soloist; German Forum (Saint Peter’s Church, NY); Soloist, New York Festival of Song Gala (Weill Hall, NY); Soloist; Letters from Spain, New York Festival of Song (Merkin Concert Hall, New York City  & Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.)

Last updated: February 2015

Theo Lebow

Jupiter/Apollo

Feb. 22 & Mar. 6

Stephanie Blythe

Ino/Juno

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Ino/Juno, Semele

Hometown: Mongaup Valley, NY
Seattle Opera Debut: Fricka, Das Rheingold (’00)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Fricka and Waltrautre (Götterdämmerung), Der Ring des Nibelungen ('13);  Mistress Quickly, Falstaff (’10); Isabella, L’italiana in Algeri (’08) 
Seattle Opera Artist of the Year: Amneris, Aida (’08)
Recently: Azucena, Il trovatore (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Gertrude Stein, Twenty-Seven (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis); Ulrica, Un ballo in maschera (San Diego Opera)
Upcoming: Baba the Turk, The Rake’s Progress (Metropolitan Opera); Ms. Lovett, Sweeney Todd (San Francisco Opera)

Last Updated: February 2015

Stephanie Blythe

Ino/Juno

Feb. 21, 25, 28, Mar. 4 & 7

Deborah Nansteel

Ino/Juno

Hometown:Silver Spring, MD
Seattle Opera Young Artist 2012/13
Seattle Opera Debut: The Nursing Woman, Suor Angelica ('13)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Foreign Woman, The Consul (’14)
Seattle Opera Young Artist: 2012/13
Recently: Nettie Fowler, Carousel and Elvira Griffiths, An American Tragedy (Glimmerglass Opera); Soloist, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Seattle Symphony)
Upcoming: Tisbe, La Cenerentola (Washington National Opera)

Click here to read an interview with DEBORAH NANSTEEL on our blog.

Last updated: February 2015

Deborah Nansteel

Ino/Juno

Feb. 22 & Mar. 6

Randall Scotting

Athamas

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Athamas, Semele

Hometown: Grand Junction, CO
Seattle Opera Debut
Recent: Giuliano, Eliogabalo (Gotham Chamber Opera); Cesare, Giulio Cesare (Fort Worth Opera); Orlando, Orlando (Hobart Baroque Festival, Australia) 
Upcoming: Marc Antonio, La Cleopatra (Ars Minerva, San Francisco); Soloist, A Year in the Life of Handel (Handel House Museum, London); recital tour of Hungary and the Czech Republic

Click here to read an interview with RANDALL SCOTTING on our blog.

Last updated: February 2015

Randall Scotting

Athamas

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 21, 22, 25, 28, Mar. 4, 6 & 7

John Del Carlo

Cadmus/Somnus

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Cadmus/Somnus, Semele

Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Seattle Opera Debut: Donner/Gunther, Der Ring des Nibelungen ('84)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Bartolo, Il barbiere di Siviglia ('00 and '92); Kothner, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg ('89); Frank, Die Fledermaus, ('88)
Recently: Don Pasquale, Don Pasquale; Bartolo, Il barbiere di Siviglia; Bartolo, Le nozze di Figaro (Metropolitan Opera)
Upcoming: Bartolo, Le nozze di Figaro (San Francisco Opera); Sacristan, Tosca, and Alcindoro, La bohème (Metropolitan Opera)

Click here to read an interview with JOHN DEL CARLO on our blog.

Last Updated: February 2015

John Del Carlo

Cadmus/Somnus

Feb. 21, 22, 25, 28, Mar. 4, 6 & 7

Amanda Forsythe

Iris

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Iris, Semele
Seattle Opera Debut


Hometown: Boston, MA
Recently: Nannetta, Falstaff (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Jemmy, Guillaume Tell (Rossini Festival, Pesaro); Edilia, Almira (Boston Early Music Festival)
Upcoming: Poppea, L’incoronazione di Poppea (Boston Early Music Festival); Amour, Orfeo (Royal Opera Covent Garden); Cleopatra, Giulio Cesare (Boston Baroque) 

Last updated: February 2015

Amanda Forsythe

Iris

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 21, 22, 25, 28, Mar. 4, 6 & 7

Tory Peil

Pasithea

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15:  Pasithea, Semele

Hometown: Ashland, OR
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Threefold (Cornish Playhouse); Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker (Triple Door)
Upcoming: X-Posed (Cornish Playhouse); House of Thee Unholy (Triple Door); House of Verlaine (Moisture Festival)


Last updated: February 2015

Tory Peil

Pasithea

Seattle Opera Debut
Feb. 21, 22, 25, 28, Mar. 4, 6 & 7

Cast

Creative Team

Gary Thor Wedow

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2015/16: The Marriage of Figaro

Hometown: LaPorte, IN
Seattle Opera Debut: Giulio Cesare (’07)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Semele (’15), Don Giovanni (’14); La voix humaine/Suor Angelica (’13)
Faculty, The Juilliard School of Music
Recently: Messiah (New York Philharmonic and Santa Fe Symphony); Die Zauberflöte (Lyric Opera of Kansas City); Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Utah Opera) 
Upcoming: The Marriage of Figaro (The Juilliard School)  La Cenerentola (Opera Saratoga); The Marriage of Figaro (Seattle Opera)

Last updated: February 2015

Gary Thor Wedow

Conductor

Tomer Zvulun

Stage Director

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Semele

Hometown: Tel Aviv, Israel
Seattle Opera Debut: Lucia di Lammermoor (’10)
Previously at Seattle Opera: La bohème (’13)
General and Artistic Director, Atlanta Opera
Recent: Silent Night (Wexford Opera); Rigoletto (Boston Lyric Opera); Madama Butterfly (Atlanta Opera) 
Upcoming: Rigoletto (Atlanta Opera); R.U.R., world premiere (Forum Karlin, Prague); Roméo et Juliette (Atlanta Opera)

Last updated: February 2015

Tomer Zvulun

Stage Director

David P. Gordon

Set Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2013/14: The Consul

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Seattle Opera Debut
Professor of Set Design, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University
Recently: Der Fliegende Holländer (Sarasota Opera); Breath and Imagination (Hartford Stage); Die Vogel (LA Opera)
Upcoming: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Philadelphia Theatre Co.)

Last Updated: February 2014

David P. Gordon

Set Designer

Vita Tzykun

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Semele

Hometown: Odessa, Ukraine
Recently: Costume design, Rigoletto (Boston Lyric Opera); costume design, Silent Night (Wexford Opera Festival); set design, Euryanthe (Fischer Center, Bard) 
Upcoming: Set design, R.U.R, world premiere (Forum Karlin, Prague); set design, Mass (Philadelphia Orchestra); set and costume design, Soldier Songs (Atlanta Opera)  

Last updated: February 2015

Vita Tzykun

Costume Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Robert Wierzel

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2014/15: Semele; Ariadne auf Naxos
Hometown: New York, NY Seattle Opera Debut: Turn of the Screw ('94) Previously at Seattle Opera: La bohème (’13), Lucia di Lammermoor (’10); Aida (’08)  Recently: The Love Potion (Boston Lyric Opera); Madama Butterfly (Atlanta Opera); Indian Ink (Roundabout Theatre Company, NY) Upcoming: Macbeth and Catone in Utica (Glimmerglass); Man of La Mancha (Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, D.C.); Ariadne auf Naxos (Seattle Opera)
Last updated: February 2015

Robert Wierzel

Lighting Designer

Mark Haim

Choreographer

At Seattle Opera in 2013/14: The Consul

Hometown: New York, NY
Seattle Opera Debut Recently: Choreographer, This Land Is Your Land (Festival Ardanthé, Paris, and Joyce Theater, NY); Choreographer, Stu for Silverton (Intiman Summer Festival)
Upcoming: Choreographer, The Tales of Hoffmann (Seattle Opera); Faculty (American Dance Festival, North Carolina); Collaborator and performer, Mori/Asukawa Dance Project (Osaka, Japan)


Last Updated: February 2014

Mark Haim

Choreographer

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Hair and Makeup Designer (Los Angeles, CA)

Joyce Degenfelder’s association with Seattle Opera began in 1992 with The Ballad of Baby Doe. In 2003, Degenfelder made her Seattle Opera design debut with Parsifal, and ever since she has designed makeup and wigs for all of Seattle Opera’s productions. In addition to her work with Seattle Opera, she is also wig master for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and ACT Theater. Her work has been seen around the country including Seattle Children’s Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Alaska Repertory Theatre, and Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Last Updated: June 2015

Joyce Degenfelder

Hair and Makeup Designer

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Hometown: Okemos, MI
Seattle Opera Debut: Le nozze di Figaro ('97)
Previously at Seattle Opera: English Captions Titlist (from Carmen '95 to Carmen '04); pre-performance lecturer (from Lohengrin '04 through Amelia '09); creator of the children’s operas Theft of the Gold and Siegfried and the Ring of Fire
Currently at Seattle Opera: Director of Public Programs and Media; writes English Captions for most productions in Italian, French, German, and English; author of Spotlight Guides, which provide subscribers with background and historical information about each upcoming opera

Jonathan Dean

English Captions

Creative Team

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

Orchestra

Violin I
Cordula Merks, Concertmaster
Jennifer Bai
Mariel Bailey
Blayne Barnes
Cecilia Poellein Buss
Tim Garland, Assistant Concertmaster
Leonid Keylin
Clark Story

Violin II
Gennady Filiminov, Principal
Natasha Bazhanov
Stephen Bryant
Linda Cole
Sande Gillette
Artur Girsky, Asst. Principal

Viola
Tim Hale, Principal
Penelope Crane
Laura Renz
Rachael Swerdlow, Asst. Principal

Cello
Meeka Di Lorenzo, Principal
Bruce Bailey
Roberta Downey, Asst. Principal
Charles Jacot

Double Bass
Jordan Anderson, Principal
Jennifer Godfrey, Asst. Principal

Oboe
Mary Lynch, Principal
Winnie Cengwen Lai

Bassoon
Seth Krimsky, Principal
Michael Gamburg

French Horn
Jeff Fair, Principal
Cara Kizer

Trumpet
David Gordon, Principal
Vince Green

Timpani
Rachel Dobrow, Principal

 

Continuo

Cello
Meeka Di Lorenzo, Principal

Theorbo/Guitar
John Lenti, Principal

Harpsichord and Organ
Philip Kelsey, Principal

Virginal
Gary Wedow

Personnel Manager
Scott Wilson

Assistant Personnel Manager
Keith Higgins

Rotating member of the string section are are listed alphabetically.
The Orchestra is composed of members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

 

Chorus

Soprano
Jennifer Bromagen
Carissa Castaldo
Karen Early-Evans
Melanie Hingson
Dana Johnson
Linda Mattos
Eleanor Stallcop-Horrox

Mezzo
Lorraine Burdick
Laura Eichelberger
Gail Neil
Elizabeth Peterson
Melissa Plagemann
Susan Salas
Lucy Weber

Tenor
Jon Farmer
Tim Janecke
Neil Jordan
Dustin Kaspar
Bob Leavens
Karl Marx Reyes
Steve Wall

Bass/Baritone
Ryan Bede
Michael Dunlap
Craig Grayson
Glenn Guhr
Dierre Lopez
Misha Myznikov
Brett Youngquist

Dancers

Vincent Michael Lopez, Dance Captain
Stacy Brenner
Eric Esteb
Roxanne Foster
Patrick Kilbane
Tory Peil

Supernumeraries

Sawyer Keay
Rebecca Schneider

 

Orchestra, Chorus, & Additional Artists

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All performances take place at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street, Seattle. Join our email list to receive personalized alerts with updates on traffic, dining, and parking for your specific performance, or choose a topic below to learn more.

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Production Sponsors

Kreielsheimer Endowment Fund

Additional Support By

National Endowment for the Arts

Main Photo © Elise Bakketun | Photos © Alan Alabastro, © Elise Bakketun, © Elise Bakketun