After two years away, Opera Philadelphia resumes Festival O this fall

Opera Philadelphia had pivoted to filmmaking during the pandemic. It announced a return to live in-person performances with Festival O in September.

Jennifer Harrison Newman in a scene from Black Lodge

Performer Jennifer Harrison Newman in a scene from Black Lodge, premiering Oct. 1 and 2 at the Philadelphia Film Center. (Courtesy of Beth Morrison Projects)

This week Opera Philadelphia announced its upcoming 2022-2023 season, starting in the fall. The return to live performances will include the return of Festival O, a two-week festival of live, in-person opera. The annual festival had been impossible to do during the height of the pandemic.

Festival O launches the season with a concentration of five operatic events in two weeks, from September 21 – October 2. It will feature, “The Raven,” a 2012 opera by composer Toshio Hosokawa based on Edgar Allen Poe’s poem produced as Japanese Noh Theater. Other performances include a new production of Rossini’s 1816 opera “Otello,” and the world premiere of “Black Lodge,” a glam rock opera featuring the Los Angeles-based band Timur & the Dime Museum.

“Black Lodge,” composed by former Opera Philadelphia composer-in-resident David T. Little (“Soldier Songs”), is described as a surreal piece loosely based on the writings of William S. Burroughs, “part magick ritual, part mad scene.” The piece was developed with Timur and the Dime Museum, to be both a film and a performance, respectively. Both will be presented during the festival.

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Over the last two years, Opera Philadelphia pivoted hard into filmmaking when live performance was impossible because of the pandemic. The new season shows an ongoing commitment to creating original films, including a screening of new and classic opera films as part of Festival O.

Opera Philadelphia is now accepting film submissions to be considered for the Festival O. Interest among filmmakers is high: since the company began accepting submissions on Tuesday, over 50 films have been sent in. The window for submissions closes on May 15.

After Festival O, the opera season continues in 2023 with the classics “Carmina Burana” (February 3 and 5) and “La bohème” (April 28 & 30, May 5 & 7).

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Saturdays just got more interesting.

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