“Opera is a live art form, always in constant change,” says Ramon Tebar of Opera Naples. “It’s in constant evolution, development and change. We think it’s important to present these different formats and different ways (of doing opera) and give the public what they like, things like ‘La Traviata’ and ‘Die Fledermaus,’” he says, naming two popular operas the company will present this coming season.
It will be Mr. Tebar’s second season as artistic director and conductor for Opera Naples. The Spanish-born maestro, who is also music director of the Florida Grand Opera and Florida’s Palm Beach Symphony, stresses “new directions” and “new artistic visions” throughout his conversation.
“One of our commitments is to present a wide variety of repertoire,” he says. “I try to have operas of different styles from classic repertoire, Bel Canto, or Italian versus German or French, even contemporary. And big opera, we call it Grand Opera, which is more of a production, compared to chamber opera.”
There is almost five centuries worth of opera from which to choose, he points out.
“My artistic commitment and vision for this company is to bring the widest repertoire in opera,” he says, comparing it to a menu in a restaurant, reasoning that one with only meats or only desserts is not as appealing.
The Opera Naples season opens in December with Johann Strauss’ comic opera “Die Fledermaus,” which Mr. Tebar describes as one of the most popular operas, “maybe the most famous” ever written. It will be followed in January by another traditional comic opera, “Don Passquale,” in a production Mr. Tebar says will be a minimalist one, “with lots of projections.”
February brings “The Four Notes Opera,” a modern comic opera written by American Tom Johnson, a former music critic for the Village Voice. Written for five singers and piano, it will be presented by the Opera Naples Young Artists Program.
“The title says what it is: an opera with only four notes,” the maestro says. “In the whole opera, at the same time, only four notes — very limited, boring, no? But he combines these notes with so many different rhythms, color and registers that you don’t feel it’s based on four notes. That’s what’s amazing about it.”
Mr. Johnson comes out of the movement of minimalism, Mr. Tebar says, adding that he directed it 20 years ago and gave 50 performances.
“It is a spoof on opera conventions,” he says, adding, “You don’t need to know about opera to have fun (with it).”
The company’s principle offerings will end in March with performances of “La Traviata,” a traditional opera presented in a non-traditional way: in the round at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
“The idea is to have the public surrounding the orchestra,” Mr. Tebar says. “There’ll be no fourth wall, the whole pavilion (will be) as if the public were in Violetta’s ballroom. It’s a contemporary approach to a traditional opera …
“I believe opera companies all over the world are finding it a necessity to change the model,” he adds. “Opera companies have a big theater, but present it always in one kind of way: the audience on one side, the orchestra in the middle, and everything happening on the stage. That’s how it’s usually done.
“But we are presenting opera in unusual venues.”
For example, in February the company will debut “Opera in the Garden,” a series of performances at Naples Botanical Garden. And it’s also offering the new Beaux Arts Chamber Music Series in which concert pianists Tao Lin and Catherine Lan will perform with three chamber ensembles: the Shanghai String Quartet (Dec. 15), the Aspen String Trio (Jan. 29) and the Ying String Quartet (March 8.)
“One of the goals of our artistic vision and new direction is to give to this community as many different cultural operatic musical experiences we can,” Mr. Tebar concludes. ¦
Opera Naples 2015-16
in collaboration with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra
8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, at Artis—Naples
8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, Jan. 14 and 16, at the David and Cecile Wang Opera Center, Naples
“The Four Notes Opera”
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12-13, at the Wang Opera Center, Naples
8 p.m. Friday and Sunday, March 18 and 20, at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
Beaux Arts Chamber Music Series
“Nationalism from Central to Northern Europe”
Pianists Tao Lin and Catherine Lan with the Shanghai String Quartet
8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the Wang Opera Center
“Classical & Gypsy”
Pianists Tao Lin and Catherine Lan with the Aspen String Trio
8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, at the Wang Opera Center
“Impression & Romance”
Pianists Tao Lin and Catherine Lan with the Ying String Quartet
8 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at the Wang Opera Center
“A Neapolitan Evening – Season Opening Concert”
8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Wang Opera Center
“Opera in the Garden”
8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, at Naples Botanical Garden
The Winter Palace Gala
6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, at Grey Oaks Country Club
An Evening in the Palacio de Zurzuela”
8 p.m. Monday, April 18, at the Wang Opera Center
Opera Naples full season (excluding the Winter Palace Ball): VIP Gold $549, premium $535, A Block $360, B Block $300
Beaux Arts Chamber Music Series: VIP $159, premium $109, student and teacher $69 For more information, call 963-9050 or go to operanaples.org.