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Music Director Franz Welser-Möst leads The Cleveland Orchestra and an international cast in Richard Strauss’s tragic pastoral opera Daphne at Severance Hall on May 27 & 30

Director James Darrah transforms Severance Hall into tableau of nature

Release Date:  April 29, 2015

Cleveland, OH – Music Director Franz Welser-Möst continues his focus on and commitment to opera with a new production of Richard Strauss’s Daphne performed by The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall May 27 and 30. For Daphne, a work the composer called a “bucolic tragedy,” the Orchestra’s production brings the majesty of the outdoors to the intimate setting of Severance Hall. Los Angeles-based stage director James Darrah transforms Severance Hall into a tableau of nature, within the concert hall’s classically inspired architecture. The story unfolds around the Orchestra with dance, men’s chorus, and a cast of singers costumed in a contemporary interpretation of traditional Greek attire.

“The delicacy of Strauss’s music suits the Orchestra extremely well,” says Franz Welser-Möst, “and they have the unique ability to paint all of the colors of this picturesque tale. The story of Daphne is beautifully captured by Strauss and says so much about the presence of human beings in the world. The audience can expect to experience a deeply romantic dream about love set to ravishing music.”
Commenting on the creative team’s leader, Welser-Möst explains, “When I first saw James Darrah’s work, I knew he was the right artist for this project. Daphne is vibrant and yet fragile, qualities that I see in James’s beautifully composed pictures onstage. His work is striking in its clarity, born of James’s great discipline in creating emotional impact from deliberate gestures. His deep knowledge of theater and sensitive approach to music make him an ideal collaborator.”

“We will fill Severance Hall with an art installation of light and potent, tangible physicality,” says director James Darrah. “Nature will invade the concert hall’s floor and the surrounding walls will seem to shimmer with life. The sun and moon alternate their glow around the musicians. The chorus appears as a vital force of consciences in myriad narrative roles that propel the opera toward its ecstatic end. A virtuosic single female dancer, eschewing any assigned ‘role,’ appears as an embodiment of the richness and breadth of Strauss’s music. Moving throughout the cast, chorus, orchestra, and concert hall itself, the dancer is a living distillation of orchestral texture.”

The opera’s starring role will be portrayed by soprano Regine Hangler alongside tenor Andreas Schager as Daphne’s pursuer, the god Apollo. Tenor Norbert Ernst is the shepherd Leukippos and bass Ain Anger the river god Peneios. Mezzo-soprano Nancy Maultsby makes her role debut as Daphne’s mother, Gaea. Dancer Bryna Pascoe joins the cast.

Men of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus are also featured in the production. Scenic, lighting, and projection design is by Cameron Jaye Mock and Emily Anne MacDonald. Costumes are designed by Emily Anne MacDonald and Peabody Southwell.  Technical direction by John Bukala, with Christopher Shick serving as associate lighting designer.

Franz Welser-Möst has led annual opera performances at Severance Hall during his tenure in Cleveland, re-establishing the Orchestra as an important operatic ensemble. Following six seasons of opera-in-concert presentations, he brought fully-staged opera back to Severance Hall with a three-season cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas in Zurich Opera productions. He led concert performances of Strauss’s Salome at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall in May 2012. In May 2014, the Orchestra created an innovative, brand-new production of Leoš Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen, which compellingly combined live action with projected video animation. In April 2016 the Orchestra presents Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and The Miraculous Mandarin.

The Cleveland Orchestra’s production of Daphne is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has awarded The Cleveland Orchestra a grant of $2.5 million in support of artistically ambitious programming with special emphasis on opera and ballet. This gift – the largest to the Orchestra in the Foundation’s history – supports the type of programming and partnerships that challenge and expand the Orchestra and help distinguish the Orchestra from its peers. Of the Mellon Foundation’s commitment, $1.25 million has been awarded in immediate support of the Orchestra. The remaining $1.25 million of the Foundation’s grant will be awarded as part of a challenge lasting through June 2016 and matches, one-to-one, gifts from donors to The Cleveland Orchestra designated to support special artistic initiatives, especially opera and ballet.

About Franz Welser-Möst
The 2014-15 season marks Franz Welser-Möst’s thirteenth year as music director of The Cleveland Orchestra, with the future of this acclaimed partnership now extending into the next decade. Under his direction, the Orchestra is hailed for its continuing artistic excellence, is broadening and enhancing its community programming at home in Northeast Ohio, is presented in a series of ongoing residencies in the United States and Europe, and has re-established itself as an important operatic ensemble. Under Mr. Welser-Möst’s leadership, The Cleveland Orchestra has established a recurring biennial residency in Vienna at the famed Musikverein concert hall and appears regularly at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival. Together, they have also appeared in residence at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan, and at the Salzburg Festival, where a 2008 residency included five sold-out performances of a staged production of Dvořák’s opera Rusalka. In the United States, an annual multi-week Cleveland Orchestra residency in Florida was inaugurated in 2007 and an ongoing relationship with New York’s Lincoln Center Festival began in 2011.

About The Cleveland Orchestra
As it nears the centennial of its founding in 2018,The Cleveland Orchestrais undergoing a new transformation and renaissance. Universally acknowledged among the best ensembles on the planet, its musicians, staff, board of directors, volunteers, and hometown are working together on a set of enhanced goals for the 21st century – to develop the youngest audience of any orchestra; to renew its focus on fully serving communities where it performs through concerts, engagement, and music education; to continue its legendary command of musical excellence; to build on its tradition of community support and financial strength; and to move forward into the Orchestra’s next century with a strong commitment to adventuresome programming and new music.

About the Stage Director
James Darrah is a director and designer of theater, music, opera, and video known for his collaborative focus through varied mediums. Current and recent projects include direction for Don Giovanni with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and conductor Edo de Waart, a return to Opera Omaha with a new production of John Adams’s A Flowering Tree, and a continuation of his close collaboration with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas as director of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (a new staged co-production between the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony), as well as direction for Handel’s Saul with Julian Wachner and Trinity Wall Street’s 12th Night Festival. Darrah has directed four site-specific productions for the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, two exhibitions and curated shows with the SCA Project Gallery, two productions at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and over five new productions for Opera UCLA as well as a multimedia installation of Venus & Adonis in Seattle with acclaimed visual artist Susie J. Lee. Darrah trained as a director/designer with the Croatian National Theater and the Split Summer Festival. His theater work ranges from adaptations and new translations of Aeschylus’s Oresteia to new productions of the plays of Caryl Churchill.

Wednesday, MAY 27 at 7:30PM
Saturday, MAY 30 at 8:00PM

Daphne (Opera in One Act)
Music by Richard Strauss
Libretto by Joseph Gregor

Opera Cast and Creative

Regine Hangler (soprano) as Daphne*
Andreas Schager (tenor) as Apollo*
Norbert Ernst (tenor) as Leukippos*
Ain Anger(bass) as Peneios
Nancy Maultsby (mezzo-soprano) as Gaea
Bryna Pascoe (dancer and choreographer)*
Lauren Snouffer (soprano) (Maid 1)*
Anya Matanovic (soprano) (Maid 2)*
Christopher Feigum (baritone) (Shepherd 1)
Matthew Plenk (tenor) (Shepherd 2)
Ryan Speedo Green (baritone) (Shepherd 3)*
Nikola Budimir (baritone) (Shepherd 4
Men of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
(Robert Porco, director)

*denotes Cleveland Orchestra debut

and with
conducted by Franz Welser-Möst

Production by Chromatic
James Darrah, director and choreographer*
Bryna Pascoe, dancer and choreographer*
Cameron Jaye Mock, visual, lighting, and projection design*
Emily Anne MacDonald, costume and visual design*
Peabody Southwell, costume design*

John Bukala, technical director
Christopher Shick, associate lighting designer

The opera is sung in German with projected English supertitles

Franz Welser-Möst leads The Cleveland Orchestra in Richard Strauss’s captivating opera about Daphne, a young woman who must choose between the love of men and her love for nature. In the spirit of last season’s innovative and critically-acclaimed production of The Cunning Little Vixen, director James Darrah transforms the concert hall into a tableau of nature with staging and costumes inspired by ancient Greek theater, and the cast of internationally-renowned singers will be joined by a dancer and men’s chorus.

These concerts are sponsored by Litigation Management, Inc.
and supported by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

TICKETS: $71-$162
Call 216-231-1111 or 800-686-1141, or order online at

All artists, programs, and prices are subject to change.