After Canceling 100th-Anniversary Season Due to COVID, Cincinnati Opera Announces Plans for 2021

The 2021 season is scheduled to run from June 13 to July 25 and features several events and world premiere performances that were scheduled — and canceled — this year

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click to enlarge "Fierce," one of the world premiere performances scheduled for the Cincinnati Opera's 2021 season - Photo:
"Fierce," one of the world premiere performances scheduled for the Cincinnati Opera's 2021 season

Cincinnati Opera's 100th-anniversary season was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, as they say, "the show must go on."

And Evans Mirageas, artistic director of the Cincinnati Opera (CO), is ready for a show-stopping year.

Mirageas announced the opera's 2021 Summer Festival line-up, which includes several world premiere performances that had been planned for 2020, as well as some returning favorites, Opera in the Park and a handful of rescheduled events that were slated to take place during their anniversary year (dates for those will soon be announced). 

Castor and Patience (July 9-18) and Fierce (July 14-23) formerly part of the 2020 line-up — will be receiving their world premieres at CO in 2021.The Barber of Seville (June 16-18) also previously scheduled to be staged this year, will return in 2021.

Castor and Patience — with music by Gregory Spears and an original libretto by U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith — follows two members in a Black family who struggle with the fate of a piece of historic land they’ve inherited in the South. As a release states, it speaks to “America’s warring tensions between reckoning with the hard facts of history and racing blindly forward toward the dream of progress.”

Fierce is inspired by the stories of the teenage girls who helped create the piece. It will be presented as part of both the Championing Women’s Voices initiative and CO Next: Diverse Voices and is in collaboration with WordPlay Cincy, The Music Resource Center and i.imagine. Local novelist Sheila Williams wrote the libretto, working alongside WordPlay Cincy’s programs. The music was composed by William Menefield, who worked with participants in The Music Resource Center’s programs. D. Lynn Meyers — the producing artistic director of Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati — will make her CO debut.

The CO will also present Gioachino Rossini’s comedy Barber of Seville.

In addition to these much-anticipated performances, the Cincinnati Opera is bringing back two popular classics: Carmen (July 1-11) and Tosca (July 22-25). 

According to a release, the planned performances will feature the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and will take place at Music Hall, SCPA’s Mayerson Theater and the School of Creative and Performing Arts. 

“For our return to the stage, we’re looking forward to presenting some of the most beloved titles in the operatic repertoire — BarberCarmen, and Tosca — as well as the much-anticipated world premieres of Castor and Patience and Fierce. We commissioned these two new operas as part of our ongoing vision to celebrate diverse stories and creators, and we can’t wait to share them with the world," says Mirageas. 

Additionally, Mirageas announced that Opera in the Park, located at Washington Park, will return and feature performances from the talented members of the Opera's 2021 season, the Cincinnati Opera Chorus as well as the CSO. 

“We realize that planning to produce a full opera season in these uncertain times can seem audacious,” Mirageas says. “But as long as there is a chance that conditions will allow us to inspire our community through live opera performances again, that will be our goal. We look to the future with optimism and embrace the same bold vision we have always had. That said, our plans are necessarily contingent on conditions that will allow us to ensure a safe experience for all.”

A handful of events that were scheduled for the 2020 season are in the process of being rescheduled for the 2021 season including The Ball of the Century, Opera for All, In Harmony Community Chorus,  Morris and Friends and Opera Goes to Church/Opera Goes to Temple.

For more info about the upcoming season, visit

*A previous version of this story included the cast for the Barber of Seville slated to appear in 2020. They have no been confirmed for the 2021 season.

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