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Festival Napa Valley returns to a live season for 2021 with outdoor events

Festival Napa Valley returns to a live season for 2021 with outdoor events

  • Updated
Michael Fabiano

American tenor Michael Fabiano will perform at Festival Napa Valley's closing night concert, Opera Under the Stars. 

Kent Nagano

Kent Nagano will conduct Puccini’s "Gianni Schicchi," at Festival Napa Valley this summer. It's the inaugural performance of the new Manetti Shrem Opera program, new to the festival this year. 

If you think very hard you might be able to remember what it was like to sit in an audience, listening to live music. But if all you can conjure are endless computer screens with valiant, virtual performers all in their little boxes, here is some good news:

Festival Napa Valley will welcome audiences back for a full program of events, July 16-25, all to be held in an outdoor setting. Scheduled performers include Jennifer Hudson, Michael Fabiano, Roberto Bolle, Lisette Oropesa, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Nia Imani Franklin.

Marking the Festival’s 15th anniversary and celebrating the return to live events, all tickets for evening concerts this year will be $15. All daytime concerts will be admission-free (reservations required).

“This is our gift to the Napa community, made possible by the generosity of our Board and donors,” said Charles Letourneau, vice president and director of artistic planning.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson will be the headliner at the Festival Napa Valley Arts for All Gala. 

In addition to presenting the wide range of performing arts for which Festival Napa Valley has become known, from symphonic concerts, opera, and dance to chamber music and jazz, the 2021 season will see the launch of three major new initiatives:

Lucas Meachem

Baritone Lucas Meachem will perform in Puccini’s "Gianni Schicchi."

  • The Manetti Shrem Opera Program: A comprehensive celebration of the vocal arts includes fully staged and semi-staged opera performances, a tuition-free summer conservatory providing advanced study and performance opportunities to college-aged students and recent graduates, and scholarship prizes for young opera singers with emerging careers.
  • Frost School @ Festival Napa Valley, a multi-year partnership with University of Miami’s Frost School of Music, with Frost faculty and students playing a lead role in the festival’s Academy, symphonic, and chamber music programs.
Roberto Bolle

The Dede Wilsey Dance Gala will present Italian superstar and former ABT principal dancer Roberto Bolle.

  • The Joel Revzen Conducting Fellowship, a career development grant and performance opportunity for a rising conductor, awarded in memory of the beloved faculty member of the Festival’s Blackburn Music Academy who died from complications of COVID-19 last year.

“The programming this summer is inspired by reflection on our shared experience of the past year, and our hope for the future,” said Timothy Blackburn, chairman of the Festival’s board of directors.

Festival Napa Valley 2021 highlights include:

  • Opening Night at Charles Krug with internationally acclaimed soprano Lisette Oropesa, winner of the 2019 Richard Tucker and Beverly Sills Awards, in recital;
  • The Arts For All Gala with headliner Jennifer Hudson benefiting Napa County public school arts education and the festival’s community programming;
  • Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performing at Darioush Winery;
Lucas Meachem

Baritone Lucas Meachem will perform in Puccini’s "Gianni Schicchi."

  • “The Four Seasons of Napa Valley,” encompassing three world premieres as part of cellist Matt Haimovitz’s Primavera Project, and violinist Chad Hoopes performing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”;

The inaugural Manetti Shrem Opera, Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” starring baritone Lucas Meachem, directed by Jean-Romain Vesperini and conducted by Kent Nagano in his festival debut;

James Conlon

James Conlon will conduct the closing night "Opera Under the Stars." 

  • The annual Dede Wilsey Dance Gala featuring Italian superstar and former ABT principal dancer Roberto Bolle and friends;
  • A Tribute to Tony Bennett, featuring his most beloved songs performed by a star lineup of artists;
  • Two free symphonic concerts with Festival Orchestra Napa featuring principal musicians from the Frost School and the Blackburn Academy;
  • Nia Franklin

    Nia Imani Franklin, Festival Napa Valley's composer-in-residence, will present several world premieres at this year's Festival Napa Valley, as well as a performance in the Novack Concert for Kids. 

    • Composer-in-residence Nia Imani Franklin, with several world premieres and a featured performance in a Novack Concert for Kids;
    • Closing night Opera Under the Stars with American tenor Michael Fabiano and winners of the Manetti Shrem Prize, conducted by James Conlon

    Festival Napa Valley continues to support the community by providing free performance tickets to students, families, and seniors. Audience members can attend a myriad of free programs including the Bouchaine Young Artist Series; the Festival Live! series of chamber music and the Novack Concerts for Kids, serving Napa County public schools and Boys & Girls Clubs. Online streaming to audience members in hospitals and assisted living facilities will also be provided.

    The Festival’s Blackburn Music Academy, an immersive summer conservatory for emerging professional musicians from around the world, will enter its fourth season.

    “While the decision to present all performances outdoors was made primarily for the health and safety of our artists, audience members, and community, it is in harmony with what people have come to love about Festival Napa Valley: one-of-a-kind performances and events surrounded by the incomparable beauty and enchantment of Napa Valley,” said the Festival’s president and CEO Richard Walker.


    Concert tickets are now available, along with patron passes. To view the full schedule and purchase tickets and passes, visit FestivalNapaValley.or

    Festival Napa Valley 2021 venues and event hosts include Alpha Omega, Antica Napa Valley, B Cellars, Bardessono, Castello di Amorosa, Charles Krug, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Culinary Institute of America at Copia, Darioush, Far Niente, Frank Family Vineyards, HALL St. Helena, Napa Valley College, Opus One, Raymond Vineyards, Silverado Resort and Spa, Solage Napa Valley, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery, The Donum Estate, Palmaz Vineyards, Theorem Vineyards, Trefethen Family Vineyards, and the Green Car Barn.

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