Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson's Blue to Play Washington National Opera's 2022-2023 Season | Playbill

Regional News Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson's Blue to Play Washington National Opera's 2022-2023 Season

The opera about family and race in America is one of five full productions headed for the D.C. company.

Blue by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson

Washington National Opera has announced its 2022-2023 season, which will feature Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson's BlueIl TrovatoreElektraThe Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, and La Bohème. The season will also include other performance presentations, the Let's Go There conversation series, Opera in the Outfield, and more.

Blue makes its long-awaited Washington. D.C. premiere after a world premiere run at Glimmerglass Festival in 2019. The Kennedy Center run is set for March 11-25, 2023 at the Eisenhower Theater, and is announced on the heels of the release of a world premiere recording and a documentary chronicling the piece's creation, available to watch at

Drawing inspiration from Black literature and contemporary events, Blue delves into the hopes and fears of a young Black couple about raising their son in modern America. Co-produced by Glimmerglass Festival, Washington National Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, the D.C. premiere will feature direction by Thompson. Mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter and bass Kenneth Kellogg will reprise their roles from the Glimmerglass world premiere. Zimbabwean-born Vimbayi Kaziboni, Artistic Advisor of Boston Lyric Opera, and Jonathan Taylor Rush, Assistant Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, will share the duties of conducting as the two make their Washington National Opera debuts.

"We were in final rehearsals for [Blue] in 2020 when the pandemic forced us to postpone the show," says General Director Timothy O'Leary in a statement. "Blue asks us to reflect on what happens when a young Black man, the son of a police officer, loses his life at the hands of a white police officer during a political rally. For us, the enduring aspect of this piece is the way the community gathers around the family in the wake of the killing. I think this extraordinarily beautiful work help us all better understand our collective definition of family.”

WATCH: Celebrate Tony-Winning Composer Jeanine Tesori With This Tribute

The season will open with a new period production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore, with a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, by Canadian director Brenna Corner October 22-November 7. Starring will be soprano Latonia Moore, tenor Gwyn Hughes Jones, baritone Christopher Maltman, and mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis. The creative team includes with set designer Erhard Rom, costume designer and Tony winner Martin Pakledinaz, lighting designer AJ Guban, projection designer S. Katy Tucker, and conductor Michele Gamba in his American debut. 

From October 29-November 12 will be a presentation of Elektra, music by Richard Strauss and libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, from Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, featuring soprano Christine Goerke, mezzo-soprano Katarina Dalayman, soprano Sara Jakubiak, tenor Štefan Margita, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. Rom and Tucker will again serve as set designer and projection designer, respectively. The creative team will also include Bibhu Mohapatra as costume designer, Mark McCullough as lighting designer, and Eboni Adams as choreographer. Evan Rogister will conduct.

Denyce Graves

The Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson by composer Carlos Simon and playwright Sandra Seaton tells the story of the founder of the National Negro Opera Company. It premiered in 2021 at Glimmerglass and will make its Washington National Opera premiere January 20-22, 2023 with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves reprising the title role. Kimille Howard will direct.

Closing the season will be a revival of the 2014 staging of La Bohème directed by Peter Kazaras. The Giacomo Puccini opera, with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, is slated for May 13-27, 2023 with sopranos Gabriella Reyes and Jacqueline Echols, tenor Migran Agadzhanyan, baritones Gihoon Kim and Blake Denson, and bass Peixin Chen starring. Alevtina Ioffe will conduct.

Gihoon Kim

Further programming includes a presentation of Renée Fleming and Mo Willems' collaboration The Ice Cream Truck Is Broken! & Other Emotional Arias, world premieres of short chamber operas from three emerging composer-librettist teams with the return of Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative, a recital by Leah Hawkins who will be awarded this year's Marian Anderson Vocal Award, the inaugural presentation of The True Voice Award to a trans or nonbinary singer, the continuation of WNO’s Let’s Go There conversation series moderated by Garrett McQueen, a performance by Juan Diego Flórez with pianist Vincenzo Scalera, and the return of its popular and free Opera in the Outfield.

Artists making their Washington National Opera role debuts include Latonia Moore, Raehann Bryce-Davis, Gabriella Reyes, and Migran Agadzhanyan. Michele Gamba and Gihoon Kim make their American debuts. Katarina Dalayman makes her U.S. role debut and Jonathan Taylor Rush launches his operatic career with Blue.

“We are exploring all the meanings of family in our 2022–2023 season—the beautiful, the bewildering, and the bombastic,” says Artistic Director (and Broadway Little Mermaid director) Francesca Zambello in a statement.

For tickets and more information, visit

Production Photos: Blue at The Glimmerglass Festival


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