The 2013-2014 season of Washington National Opera (WNO) has just been announced by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. The season includes Tristan and Isolde, a new production of The Force of Destiny, the East Coast premiere of Moby-Dick, The Elixir of Love, and a new production of The Magic Flute. WNO will also present the world premiere of The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, a holiday-themed family opera commissioned by WNO and written by acclaimed American composer Jeanine Tesori. A second season of the American Opera Initiative will continue WNO's efforts to commission new American works.
In partnership with the Washington Nationals, WNO will present a free Opera in the Outfield simulcast of The Magic Flute to Nationals Park in May 2014. New pre-show events before every performance in the Opera house will expand the WNO experience and help educate new audiences. Highlights from the 2013-2014 season will be performed by the WNO Orchestra and special guests at a free preview concert on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 6 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Opera House.
"I'm excited to bring you my first season as Artistic Director, in which I have been able to bring together and create so much of the casting and programming," said Ms. Zambello. "You'll begin to discover many developments designed to make Washington National Opera broaden its reach. We will have more events in a variety of Kennedy Center venues, we will be emphasizing American works and American singers, expanding our education and outreach programs before every performance, and adding more events with our members of the Domingo- Cafritz Young Artist Program. I hope these initiatives will continue to entice both new and returning audiences to the Kennedy Center to experience our wide range of thrilling performances."
A celebration of Wagner and Verdi
WNO's 2013-2014 season opens with a celebration of the bicentenary of two of opera's most important and beloved composers-Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi. First is Wagner's classic story of the glorification of love, Tristan and Isolde, which runs September 15-27, 2013 in the Opera House. The opera is widely regarded as containing some of the most sublime, romantic music ever composed. The starry international cast is led by American soprano Deborah Voigt, one of the most important Wagnerian singers of her generation, as Isolde and Ian Storey as the dashing knight Tristan. The production, new to Washington, is directed by acclaimed Australian theater director Neil Armfield and is conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin.
Verdi's The Force of Destiny returns to the Opera House for the first time in nearly 25 years in a bold new production by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, October 12-26, 2013. This rarely performed epic drama features a young international cast full of fresh talent. The rising young American sopranos Adina Aaron and Amber Wagner make their WNO debuts sharing the role of Leonora, one of the most difficult roles in the repertory. Chilean tenor Giancarlo Monsalve and Puerto Rican tenor Rafael Davila share the role of Don Alvaro. Italian baritone Luca Salsi and Spanish baritone Àngel Òdena share the role of Don Carlo. The cast also features Georgian mezzo-soprano Ketevan Kemoklidze as Preziosilla, Colombian tenor Valeriano Lanchas as Fra Melitone, and Italian bass Enrico Iori as Padre Guardiano. The WNO Orchestra is led by Chinese American conductor Xian Zhang, who recently completed her tenure as Assistant Conductor at the New York Philharmonic, in her WNO opera debut.
An all-American winter season
The winter season of WNO takes on a decidedly American flavor, beginning with the second season of the American Opera Initiative, WNO's new commissioning program for emerging composers and librettists. Following a successful launch in November 2012, WNO will once again present an evening featuring the world premieres of three 20-minute operas on November 13, 2013 in the Terrace Theater. Each opera will focus on a contemporary American theme, and once again the composers and librettists will work with a trio of mentors: conductor Anne Manson, composer Jake Heggie, and librettist Mark Campbell. Roles will be sung by young singers and members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. More information about the composer-librettist teams selected for the American Opera Initiative will be announced in the coming months.
Continuing its tradition of family opera during the holiday season, WNO is proud to present the world premiere of The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, December 14-22, 2013 in the Terrace Theater. Commissioned by WNO and featuring a score by American musical theater composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change), a libretto by poet J.D. McClatchy, and direction by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, this family-friendly opera tells the Christmas story from the perspective of a Bethlehem donkey. The opera will be performed by members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and will also feature a children's chorus and a prominent role for a boy soprano. Following the sold-out success of this season's four- performance run of Hansel and Gretel, The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me will delight audiences for seven performances.
American composer Jake Heggie's Moby-Dick makes its East Coast premiere February 22 to March 8, 2014 in the Opera House. This new work, which has received an ecstatic response from audiences since its world premiere at The Dallas Opera in 2010, may be the most lavish and technically demanding show ever produced by WNO. Featuring an all-American cast led by tenors Carl Tanner and Stephen Costello and baritones Matthew Worth and Eric Greene, Moby-Dick will be conducted by the rising young American conductor Evan Rogister and directed by Leonard Foglia, both in their WNO debuts.
"Part of my long-term plan is to present American writers, composers, and performers in works that concentrate on ideas, history, and themes that speak to our sensibilities," said Ms. Zambello. "I'm proud to bring you an all-American winter season."
New takes on classic favorites
WNO's spring season features two of the most beloved operas in the repertory. Donizetti's comedy The Elixir of Love runs March 20-29, 2014 in the Opera House in a revival of director Stephen Lawless's popular production, with a few new twists. The cast features WNO favorites Sarah Coburn and Ekaterina Siurina sharing the role of the feisty landowner Adina, with Stephen Costello and Daniel Montenegro in the role of the handsome peasant Nemorino. The opera includes the famous "Una furtiva lagrima," one of the most beautiful tenor arias. Leading the WNO Orchestra is the rising young American conductor Ward Stare in his WNO debut.
Mozart's classic The Magic Flute returns to the Opera House in a new English-language production designed by the avant-garde Japanese American artist Jun Kaneko, May 3-18, 2014. Known throughout the world for his eye-popping ceramics and sculptures, Kaneko has won raves for his designs for operas such as Madama Butterfly and Fidelio. For The Magic Flute he creates a high-tech fantasy world in which the singers interact with unique projections. Featuring a new English translation by WNO dramaturg Kelley Rourke, this family-friendly production will be directed by Harry Silverstein and conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin. A special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Performance of The Magic Flute is presented in the Opera House on Friday, May 16, 2014, featuring current singers and alumni of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. One performance of The Magic Flute (date to be announced) will be simulcast to Nationals Park as part of WNO's free annual community event Opera in the Outfield.
In addition, WNO will introduce two of the stars of The Magic Flute, tenor Paul Appleby and baritone Joshua Hopkins, to Washington audiences in a special evening of story and song in the Terrace Theater on Sunday, April 6, 2014.
Concluding the 2013-2014 season will be another world premiere opera as part of the American Opera Initiative. This hour-long piece will be written by a young composer-librettist team and will be presented in the Terrace Theater for two performances in June 2014. Roles will be sung by young singers and members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. More information about the composer-librettist team selected for this American Opera Initiative commission will be announced in the coming months.
Season preview concert
WNO presents highlights from the 2013-2014 season in a free preview concert as part of the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage series on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in the Opera House. Featuring mainstage artists, members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, and the WNO Orchestra, the concert will introduce the dynamic characters and unforgettable music from next season's repertoire.
A reinvigorated Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program
Under the leadership of new program director Michael Heaston, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program will grow in size, increase its number of performances, and expand its training regimen.
Beginning with the 2013-2014 season, two more singers will be added to the program, bringing its ranks to 10 singers and two pianists. The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program will also continue its exchange program with the Bolshoi Young Artists Opera Program and send several artists to Moscow for a two-week period in 2014.
In addition to their traditional Young Artist Performance in the Opera House (The Magic Flute, Friday, May 16, 2014) and free Opera Insight performances on the Millennium Stage, members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program will be much more visible in other performances throughout the season. On Thursday, May 23, 2013 and again on February 27, 2014, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists will perform in special recitals with the WNO Orchestra to showcase their talents and celebrate their seasons in Washington. The Young Artists are also planning a special concert to commemorate Verdi's 200th birthday; more information on these and other events will be announced in the coming months.
The Young Artists have recently begun regular intensive lessons with renowned voice teachers Diana Soviero and William Stone; their work with the program will continue in the 2013-2014 season.
New this season: Free Opera Insights before every performance
Under the direction of new WNO dramaturg Kelley Rourke, WNO will present a free pre-performance education event prior to every performance in the Opera House. These Opera Insights may include conversations with a member of the production staff, lectures by WNO artistic staff members, and presentations by historians. These pre-performance events will begin one hour prior to curtain and last approximately 25 minutes.
WNO will continue to offer preview performance on the Millennium Stage as well as Artist Q&As following select performances (dates to be announced).
MyTix program expands access to opera
Several of this season's opera performances will be part of the Kennedy Center's MyTix program, which offers those 18-30 years old and active duty members of the armed services complimentary and discounted tickets to a wide variety of performances throughout the 2013- 2014 season. Eligible patrons can visit www.kennedy-center.org/mytix to register and receive MyTix member benefits including a biweekly newsletter and ticket alerts, discounts on food and beverage service, discounts at Kennedy Center Gift Shops, and much more.
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