Opera Philadelphia's 40th anniversary season continues this week with the East Coast premiere of Oscar, Theodore Morrison and John Cox's opera based on the writings of Oscar Wilde and his contemporaries. Jointly commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera, the opera chronicles the legendary wit's trial and imprisonment for "gross indecency."
Oscar, which made its world premiere in 2013 at the Santa Fe Opera, will receive its second staging February 6-15 at Philadelphia's Academy of Music.
Out countertenor David Daniels makes his Opera Philadelphia debut as Oscar Wilde, and dancer Reed Luplau appears as Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred "Bosie" Douglas.
"Oscar Wilde's life and all that he stood for has tremendous relevance today," says David B. Devan, Opera Philadelphia's general director and president, in a statement. "He is an iconic figure in the struggle for gay rights and universal human rights, and in this opera he is presented as a hero, not as a victim. That is accomplished thanks to the brilliant writing of Theodore Morrison and John Cox and a truly outstanding portrayal by the great David Daniels."
"The opera is, ultimately, about compassion and forgiveness," adds director Kevin Newbury. "Oscar gave up everything for love and he was brutally punished for loving another man. As the opera demonstrates so poignantly, Oscar learned a great deal from his fall from grace and from his time in the harsh Victorian prison system. I hope Oscar's story encourages the audience to think about how we treat one another. For Oscar, compassion and forgiveness prevail."
"Out at the Opera," a special LGBT event hosted by Opera Philadelphia and the William Way Community Center, will be held February 13 at the Academy of Music. The event will include a talk "about homosexuality in Oscar Wilde's time compared to today" featuring ACLU of Pennsylvania executive director Reggie Shuford and Opera Philadelphia vice president Michael Bolton.