IN Series announces 2024/25 season: ‘Illicit Opera’

Season features operatic and theatrical works that were deemed too radical for the public and banned at the time of their inception.

IN Series has announced its 2024-25 season, Illicit Opera featuring four innovative productions that continue to push the boundaries of music, theater, and drama. The season opens on October 5 and includes operatic and theatrical works that were deemed too radical for the public and banned at the time of their inception. Today, when access to ideas and understandings is constantly under threat, IN Series celebrates art once feared by structures of power. For more information, visit

“In 2024-2025, IN Series is excited to celebrate with joy the dangerous quality opera and theater has to shake things up, change ideas, challenge structures, transform lives,” Artistic Director Timothy Nelson said. “Representing works spanning all 5 centuries of opera’s existence, all considered too provocative to be performed initially, this season leverages their illicit power to bring vibrancy to the artist life of the DMV.”

The season kicks off with the famous and infamous 1936 American musical masterpiece The Cradle Will Rock, running October 5-20, at the Goldman Theater DCJCC and the Baltimore Theatre Project. This piece became a thundering work of American history when governments and unions alike tried to ban its legendary first performance. Artists defied those orders to bring this searing work that celebrates the labor movement to life from the seats of a packed theater while the work’s composer and librettist Marc Blitzstein sat alone at the piano onstage. Originally directed by Orson Welles and dedicated to Kurt Weill, this imaginative new version honors the story of this rarely heard classic’s origin with new energy, humor, melody, and a thirst for justice. The production features a cast of the area’s best young vocalists, led by the newly named Artistic Director of DC’s own Theater Alliance, Shanara Gabrielle, and IN Series Head of Music Emily Baltzer (“The Promised End”).

Voted as audience choice for IN Series’ 2019-20 season, this circus version of Rigoletto, complete with a circus band and bawdy new text by Bari Biern, became a victim of COVID-19, but before that, victim to 19th-century censors that found its exploration of the misdeeds of the powerful too dangerous for the public eye. The production will finally roar to life on the stage December 7-15 at the Goldman Theater DCJCC and the Baltimore Theatre Project. At once darkly devilish, toe-tappingly infectious, and horrifically funny, Verdi’s masterpiece is made intimate, in-your-face, and inescapably enjoyable under the big top, with a cast of fan favorites returning from IN Series’ 2023 production “The Promised End,” and led once more by Emily Baltzer.

The final part of IN Series’ Monteverdi trilogy, Poppea brings the composer’s most famous and audacious final opera of love, power, sex, and betrayal to life inspired by the performance tradition of South India, and specifically Bharatanatyam dance. This landmark production, running March 14-30 at Dupont Underground, St. Mark’s Capitol Hill and Baltimore Theatre Project, is of one of opera’s undisputed masterpieces. IN Series’ production will be a collaboration with Indian-Canadian choreographer Hari Krishnan, whose work brilliantly combines the aesthetics of this traditional dance form with contemporary movement and questions of gender norms. The work will be directed and conducted by IN Series Artistic Director Timothy Nelson and feature a cast of local favorites and international artists known for their interpretations of opera of the Baroque. The INnovātiō Orchestra, IN Series’ own period baroque band, will blend music of South India in an evening of whirling passion, music, poetry, and dance. Opening night will be a celebration of the Indian festival of Holi.

The long-awaited world premiere of the first “living newspaper,” Ethiopia concludes the 2024-25 season. The work was banned by the Roosevelt administration and never performed, until now. Written in 1937, this production fuses theater and music to tell the hot-off-the-press story of Italy’s colonialist attack on Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia while the world stayed silent. “Ethiopia” runs May 17 – June 1 at Greenberg Theatre and Baltimore Theatre Project. This reconstruction, with vivid new texts, is the brainchild of DC writer Sybil R. Williams (“Stormy Weather,” “Alceste”) who has teamed up with DC composer and pianist Janelle Gill (“Desdemona,” “Chuck and Eva”) to imagine a new musical realization inspired by the music of Emahoy Tsege, an Ethiopian luminary artist known as “the honky tonk nun.” Williams and Gill expand the vision of the original work to explore how America’s Black and Brown communities responded to Europe’s aggression, and particularly the story of Mayme Richardson, a leading black soprano that became an activist for the Ethiopian causes. Jazz, classical, and African music blend and soar in this history-making musical moment.


DATES: October 5 – 20, 2024
LOCATIONS: Goldman Theater DCJCC, Washington, DC
Baltimore Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
Shanara Gabrielle, Stage Director
Emily Baltzer, Music Director

CAST: Marvin Wayne Allen, Melanie Ashkar, Teresa Ferrara, Daniel Fleming, Jacob Heacock, Rob McGinness, Cecelia McKinley, Daniel Smith, Louisa Waycott

DATES: December 7 – 15, 2024
LOCATIONS: Goldman Theater DCJCC, Washington, DC
Baltimore Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
G. VERDI, New English Text by Bari Biern
Timothy Nelson, Stage Director
Emily Baltzer, Music Director

CAST: Brian Arreola, Teresa Ferrara, Elizabeth Mondragon, Chad Louwerse, Andrew Aldesberger, Greg Sliskovich, Henrique Carvalho

March 14 -30, 2025
LOCATIONS: Dupont Underground, Washington, DC
St. Mark’s Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
Baltimore Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
Timothy Nelson, Stage and Musical Director
Hari Krishnan, Choreographer
Kathryn Kawecki, Set Designer
Deb Sivigny, Costume Designer

CAST: Caitlin Wood, Aryssa Leigh Burrs, Daniel Moody, Maribeth Diggle, Peter Walker, Oliver Mercer, Rob McGinness, Dawna Rae Warren, Chuanyuan Liu, Yudy Yannini

MAY 17 – JUNE 1, 2025
LOCATIONS: Greenberg Theater, Washington, DC
Baltimore Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
New text by Sybil R. Williams
Music by Janelle Gill inspired by the music of Emahoy Tsege
Timothy Nelson, Director

Cast: TBA


IN Series is the standard-bearer for innovative opera theater in Washington DC. IN Series makes theater from music: transforming artists, audiences, and community by disrupting expectations, nourishing empathy, stimulating insight, and deepening the conversation. IN Series envisions a thriving global community in which opera is a fully integrated and essential part of collective conversation. In picturing the journey to this end, IN Series is a change-maker – a force that, with each groundbreaking production and outreach event, radically transforms perceptions of the “who”, “what”, “where”, and “why” of opera: who gets to make opera and for whom is it made; what is defined as an operatic experience; where operas take place; why we make opera; and why opera matters.

Founded by Carla Hübner in 1982 as a concert series of the former Mount Vernon College, “The In Series” became an independent non-profit arts organization in 2000 and has been a resident company at Source Theater since 2008. Timothy Nelson assumed the artistic directorship in 2018, quickly establishing the newly rebranded “IN Series” as DC’s home for “Thought, debate, history, and innovation” in opera.


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