Seattle Opera’s come up with a nicely effective template for its five-opera seasons—three warhorses, one semi-warhorse, and one novelty—and it’s not altering the formula in 2019–20. Let’s start with next year’s most interesting offering: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird (Feb. 22–March 7), by jazz composer Daniel Schnyder. Seattle Opera favorite Lawrence Brownlee triumphed as Parker in the work’s 2015 Opera Philadelphia premiere (and the piece has already received performances elsewhere from Arizona to London to the Apollo), but the role will be sung here by Joshua Stewart and Frederick Ballentine. The story, on Bridgette A. Wimberly’s libretto, follows Parker’s deathbed reminiscences of the highs and lows of his performing and personal lives; Schnyder’s score, built on a solid base of Gershwin, is spiced with the edge of the bebop legend’s music itself.
Three of the five operas have been done here relatively recently. The season opens with Rigoletto (Aug. 10–28), Verdi’s revenge tragedy, followed by Cinderella (Oct. 19–Nov. 1), Rossini’s screwball elaboration on the familiar fairy tale. The season ends with the most popular opera of them all, Puccini’s La bohème (May 2–19), with Angel Blue, magnificent in last summer’s Porgy and Bess, returning as doomed heroine Mimi. (I also happened to see her last fall as this opera’s Musetta, and she was a delight in that role too.) The winter opera, appropriately, is Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Jan. 11–25), a romance in shades of silver and gray: boy meets girl, boy rejects girl, boy changes his mind, girl says … thanks, but naaaah. We’ve all been there.