Cincinnati Opera announces its 2004 season

CINCINNATI OPERA is really getting noticed: The September issue of Opera News (the publication in the opera world) selected the Opera as one of 10 "top opera companies in the United States." Our

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CCM's Xian Zhang will conduct Don Giovanni for the Cincinnati Opera in 2004.

CINCINNATI OPERA is really getting noticed: The September issue of Opera News (the publication in the opera world) selected the Opera as one of 10 "top opera companies in the United States." Our only complaint is that major performances are limited to the summer, so we get impatient waiting. I'm already starting my countdown for the Opera's 84th season next summer. (Did you know we have America's second oldest opera company? Only New York City's Metropolitan Opera has been around longer.). Here's what's in store next June and July: Donizetti's comic opera The Daughter of the Regiment (June 17 and 19) in its first Cincinnati production since 1973; a double bill featuring the U.S. premiere of an operatic version of Jean Genet's The Maids, paired with Phillip Glass' version of Edgar Allan Poe's creepy story, The Fall of the House of Usher (June 24 and 26); Mozart's classic tale of a voracious lover who meets his doom, Don Giovanni (July 8, 10 and 16); and Bizet's passionate and tuneful tale of temptation and tragedy, Carmen (July 17, 20, 23 and 24). If the titles aren't enough, here are a few more enticements: Don Giovanni will be conducted by CCM's XIAN ZHANG, and Carmen will be portrayed by opera superstar DENYCE GRAVES. The award-winning Zhang, who just turned 30 (and was recognized by CityBeat as an up-and-coming star in our Aug. 27 "State of the Arts" issue), made her Cincinnati Opera debut in July conducting a much praised (and virtually sold-out) production of La Traviata. Graves made her Cincinnati Opera debut as the wicked Amneris in Aida in 2000: She'll sing the title role in a new co-production of Carmen, shared with companies in Seattle, Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. June 24-26 will feature an unusual partnership with ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CINCINNATI, which will present an evening of works by Genet, whose play is the core of a premiere that weekend.

(ETC is located at 1127 Vine St., in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati's artsiest neighborhood, just two blocks from Music Hall, where the Opera performs.) Attendance for the 2003 season was 28,151, and I suspect even more will be lining up at the Music Hall box office next summer. ...

By the way, if you just can't wait until June for opera season, circle Oct. 16: Artistic Director NICHOLAS MUNI will hold an "Opera Rap" at Music Hall at 7 p.m. that evening to discuss the 2004 season. The program is free. Info: 513-744-3511 ...

If human voices singing give you goose-bumps, you might want to follow I-471 to Northern Kentucky University on Tuesday evening for a program by CHANTICLEER, an a cappella choral ensemble of 12 men that's given breathtaking performances for 25 years. They've released 25 recordings of everything from Renaissance sacred music to spirituals and Folk songs. These guys are generally acknowledged to be the best in the world performing this kind of music; they've been to our area before and their concerts are always sell-outs. Call right away for tickets ($28) for the 8 p.m. performance at Greaves Concert Hall. 859-572-6399 ...

You've probably been thinking of the new ROSENTHAL CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART as a place to look at things, but it's also for listening: On Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. the ARC ENSEMBLE begins its season as Ensemble in Residence in the CAC's downstairs performance space. Director Demetrius Fuller calls Arc's pairing with the CAC a perfect match. "Arc offers Cincinnati the only contemporary music ensemble," he explains, "while the new CAC offers the most dynamic space to present contemporary arts." The "Intimate Arc" concert, called "Time Travel," will feature pianist ANNA POLUSMIAK, WGUC radio's NAOMI LEWIN and members of Arc performing Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time and the regional premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis' Four Seasons of Futuristic Cuisine. Tickets: 513-289-4972 or

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