Operafest Lisbon 2023: “Between Heaven and Hell”


Lisbon is preparing for one of the most awaited cultural events of the year, the Operafest Lisbon 2023. The festival will take place from August 18 to September 9, 2023, at the Jardim Museu MNAA.

This year’s theme is “Between Heaven and Hell: From Deepest Fear to Supreme Pleasure.” It will explore the human aspiration to ascend to a higher level of harmony, beauty, and supreme pleasure, as well as the terror caused by extreme suffering.

The program of Operafest for this year’s festival includes two great classics that cannot be missed, Bizet’s Carmen and Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as well as Puccini’s paradigmatic 20th-century opera, Suor Angelica, performed twice. In addition, the festival will feature the world premiere of “Rigor Mortis or The House of Rings” by Francisco Lima da Silva, the contemporary opera competition, Maratona Ópera XXI, which focuses on emerging singers for today’s opera, and the launch of the Cine-opera cycle, combining cinema and opera and evoking the great Maria Callas.

Other events at Operafest include voice lessons for a self-discovery vocal experience with “Máquina Lírica,” “Rifas Operáricas” to compete for an opera performance at home, the performance “Hidden Forces,” and ending with a divine and infernal operatic rave, all related to the female condition and the struggle for women’s freedom and rights.

The festival begins, as usual, with a GREAT CLASSIC, the irresistible Carmen by Bizet. This opera was a resounding failure at its premiere due to its advocacy of female emancipation, but it quickly became one of the great operatic hits. The fearless woman in this story, Carmen, is dominated by men, whom she subjugates to her needs and passions. It will be performed by Kristina Stapek, a rising German mezzo-soprano with a warm and sensual voice, alongside Mexican tenor Rodrigo Porras Garulo as Don Jose and Colombian baritone Christian Luján as Escamiglio. This year, actor and director Tonán Quito will make his directorial debut in opera under the musical direction of Luso-Polish conductor Jan Wierzba.

The festival will also feature a double dose of a 20th-century classic, Suor Angelica, the favorite opera of Giacomo Puccini’s “Il trittico” cycle, tracing the tragedy of a young woman from a good family who enters a convent to expiate a child born out of wedlock. Additionally, the festival will debut a new opera, “Rigor Mortis or The House of Rings,” by the young composer Francisco Lima da Silva, based on Domingos Monteiro’s “Funeral Home” story, in which a declared dead man continues to observe the events around him until the final revelation. Catarina Molder will play the lead role, with actor and director Miguel Seabra making his directorial debut in opera, and promising maestro Miguel Sepúlveda will be the musical director.

For the entire family, another GREAT CLASSIC will be performed, Mozart’s genius opera, “The Magic Flute.” The three ladies give Prince Tamino a magic flute that has the power to neutralize evil, and its music works miracles by extinguishing danger. Symbolizing the struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, filled with contradictions, this seemingly simple fairy tale is actually about power relations, cowardice versus courage, and love. With sublime music radiating a light that captivates all audiences, the opera will be staged by Sandra Faleiro,