Here's the press release:
Portland Opera General Director Christopher Mattaliano will direct the New York City Opera’s season-opening production of Hugo Weisgall’s Esther, opening November 7, 2009. The production will also mark the reopening of the newly renovated David H. Koch Theater (formerly the NY State Theater) at Lincoln Center.
In 1993 Mr. Mattaliano directed the world premiere of Esther at the New York City Opera, where it earned rave reviews for its intensely expressive music, hard-hitting drama, and striking visuals by designer Jerome Sirlin. The New York Times hailed it a “triumph,” with USA Today calling the production “stunning.”
Announcing the season, his first as New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director, George Steel said that he was “thrilled to bring [Esther] back to the stage. It was a complete smash hit in 1993 and there have been cries to revive it ever since.”
“Esther was a key part of the 50th Anniversary Season of New York City Opera. I love the opera, and directing the world premiere was one of the highlights of my career,” Mr. Mattaliano commented. “It’s a great thrill to revive this 20th century masterpiece for New York audiences and to work with Jerry again. It’s a powerful, moving work, and audiences were totally swept away by it in1993. With a cast of over 100 performers, it’s a truly grand opera – the 20th century equivalent of Verdi’s Don Carlos or Wagner’s Die Meistersinger. How wonderful to revive it again for such an important event – the opening of the new theater, and George’s first season at NY City Opera.”
Based on the inspirational biblical tale of the brave heroine who rescues her people from near-destruction, Esther is an epic tale with political and spiritual overtones relevant today.
Mr. Mattaliano has a strong passion for celebrating what he calls “the incredible breadth of the operatic art form,” bringing many new works to the operatic stage. In addition to the 1993 world premier of Esther for New York City Opera, he has directed the world premieres of jazz composer Fred Ho’s Journey Beyond the West for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Peter Westergaard’s The Tempest for the Opera Festival of New Jersey, and the American premieres of Fleischman’s Rothschild’s Violin at the Juilliard Opera Center and Theresienstadt composer Hans Krasa’s Brundinbar for the New Jersey State Opera. Since he became the General Director of Portland Opera, the Company has enjoyed premieres of The Journey to Reims, Street Scene, The Rape of Lucretia, Nixon in China, The Return of Ulysses, Rodelinda, Albert Herring, The Turn of the Screw, and La Calisto. His stage direction has also been enjoyed at the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, L’Opera de Montreal, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Minnesota Opera, Dallas Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, among many others. He is currently scheduled to direct The Barber of Seville, the final production of Portland Opera’s 2009/10 season.