WINNIPEG soprano Tracy Dahl will star as Gilda in Rigoletto next fall, marking the first time she has sung the role of the court jester's daughter with Manitoba Opera.
"It's one of the great roles for a coloratura soprano," said Larry Desrochers, general director of the company.
"Of course, Tracy's a fantastic actress, and it's not only a demanding role from a singing point of view, you need a good actress."
Dahl, who took time off from performing last season for personal reasons, is back on the stage and is currently singing the lead role in Maria Stuarda at Pacific Opera Victoria.
Also on tap for the 2012-13 season, Canadian soprano Michele Capalbo, who starred in Il Trovatore here in 2008, will sing the title role in Aida next spring.
The casting was revealed Monday as the company announced that both works in its 40th season will be by the Italian Giuseppe Verdi, marking the 200th anniversary of Verdi's birth in 2013.
Tyrone Paterson will conduct both productions at the Centennial Concert Hall.
Rigoletto will open the season Nov. 24, 27 and 30, directed by Rob Herriot. Last presented by MO in 2004, it's the story of a jester who tries to protect his innocent daughter from a lecherous duke.
Besides Dahl, the stars will be baritone Todd Thomas (seen in MO's Il Trovatore in 2008) as Rigoletto, tenor David Pomeroy (Don José in MO's Carmen in 2010) as the Duke, and mezzo-soprano Lauren Segal as Maddalena.
Rigoletto boasts many famous tunes, including the Duke's rousing aria La donna è mobile and Gilda's wistful Caro nome.
Aida, one of the grandest and most spectacular of operas with its ancient Egyptian setting, will return to MO for the first time in 13 years with performances April 13, 16 and 19, 2013, directed by Brian Deedrick.
Along with Capalbo as the enslaved Ethiopian princess, it will star bass Phillip Ens (Sarastro in The Magic Flute last year) as the high priest Ramfis and baritone Gregory Dahl (Jokanaan in Salome last year) as Amonasro, king of Ethiopia.
The tenor who will star as Radames, the leader of the Egyptian army who must choose between love for Aida and loyalty to the Pharaoh, has not yet been announced.
The lavish Aida set will be borrowed from Edmonton Opera. In addition to visual pomp and pageantry, the four-act opera is known for stirring choruses and arias such as Radames' Celeste Aida.
Subscriptions are on sale now at 944-8824 or www.manitobaopera.mb.ca. Single tickets will go on sale in the fall.