Opera Philadelphia's O18 brings the festival format back - but what about Opera on the Mall?

Opera star Stephanie Blythe (background left) and Martha Graham Cracker (foreground right) will reprise their drag-show mashup Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night as part of the 018 festival.

While still stumping for enough money for another Opera on the Mall, Opera Philadelphia has announced the return of its festival format for next season, along with four individual spring shows.

The lineup for O18, as the festival is called, includes a Laurent Pelly-directed Lucia di Lammermoor co-produced with the Wiener Staatsoper. The company will present the world premiere of Sky on Swings by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch, as well as a new multimedia installation at the Barnes called Glass Handel with music by Philip Glass and G. F. Handel. French art and cabaret songs will be paired on a program with Poulenc’s La voix humaine. And the troupe will reprise the drag-show mashup Dito & Aeneas: Two Queens, One Night.

The O18 festival, which runs Sept. 20-30, will also include two song recitals at the Curtis Institute of Music, with artists and repertoire yet to be announced.

Still hanging in the balance for the 2018-19 season is another free Opera on the Mall broadcast that has become a beloved tradition on the stretch of green to the north of Independence Hall.

“Opera on the Mall will only happen if our fund-raising goal of $280,000 is met,” said opera company spokesman Frank Luzi. “We are currently working towards that goal, with a combination of private and corporate funding being sought. A crowd-funding campaign is also in the works.”

Though the opera has proposals out for about half of the funding, no money has been committed so far, he said. Which opera would be broadcast to the mall has not been decided, though this season’s Carmen and next season’s Lucia di Lammermoor are possibilities.

Camera icon Kelly & Massa
The production of La bohème performed by Opera Philadelphia in 2012 will return to the stage of the Academy of Music in the 2018-19 season.

After O18, the company’s season resumes in February 2019 with Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Don Giovanni in March 2019 with the Curtis Institute of Music, and, in April/May 2019, the return of the 2012 production of La bohème that uses projections of works from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Barnes Foundation.

The season closes in May 2019 with the opera company and Curtis Institute teaming up for Empty the House, a chamber opera by Rene Orth with librettist Mark Campbell that premiered at Curtis in 2016.

Camera icon Dominic M. Mercier
Marietta Simpson and Frederica von Stade, appearing with Opera Philadelphia in the 2018-19 season.

Among the artists slated to appear are Marietta Simpson and Frederica von Stade in Sky on Swings; Patricia Racette in the Poulenc; and Stephanie Blythe and Dito van Reigersberg (aka Martha Graham Cracker) in  Dito & Aeneas, with each hosting her own cabaret show on separate nights.

Karina Canellakis conducts Don Giovanni, with Corrado Rovaris taking Lucia di Lammermoor, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and La bohème.

The new Glass Handel is an hour-long “operatic art installation” at the Barnes Foundation that will incorporate the music of both composers. The production, by countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who will be singing with orchestra, will feature live painting by George Condo, new work by choreographer Justin Peck, dancer Patricia Delgado, and videos by James Ivory of Merchant Ivory.

Information: 215-732-8400 or operaphila.org. Subscriptions are on sale now, but single tickets do not go on sale until Aug. 1.