CARMEN, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and More Set for Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival, Now thru 7/22

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The Castleton Festival, one month of extraordinary operas, recitals, musicals, and concerts, unfolds its fourth season in the rolling hills of Castleton Farms in Rappahannock County this summer when young artists and experienced virtuosos come together for 21 performances from today, June 22 through Sunday, July 22, including performances at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

Founded by Maestro Lorin Maazel and Dietlinde Turban Maazel, Castleton brings together more than 200 young singers, musicians, conductors, stage directors, costumers, and set designers who spend the summer living and working alongside experienced artists under the mentoring baton of Maestro Maazel.

The Festival opens today, June 22 with “An Italian Extravaganza” concert and gala featuring special guest mezzo soprano Denyce Graves performing selections from Puccini, Verdi, Rossini and Respighi.

The 2012 Summer Festival season brings three new productions: Rossini’s IL Barbiere di Siviglia (June 23 and 29, July 1), conducted by Maestro Maazel, arguably the funniest of all comic operas; Bizet’s famed opera Carmen, (June 30, July 6 and 8), also conducted by Maestro Maazel; and Sondheim’s A Little Night Music (July 13-15), especially created for the C.A.T.S. (Castleton Artists Training Seminar), under the baton of Levi Hammer. With this bittersweet complex love story told in three-quarter time, the Castleton Festival is making its first reach into the musical theater repertoire.

The Castleton Festival will also bring two Maazel-directed programs to Merchant Hall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, Virginia: “Gershwin and Company, an All-American Evening” (June 28) featuring pianist Kevin Cole; and “Grand Opera in Concert: Puccini's La Bohème” (July 7).

Young musicians from across North America, Europe and Asia will travel to Virginia to play in the Castleton Festival Orchestra, performing the operas and special concerts including Festival premieres of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 paired with a Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra by the Washington, DC-based composer Máximo Flügelman (June 24) and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (July 7). A unique violin solo recital with award-winning Jennifer Koh (July 21) performing all Bach violin solo sonatas and partitas will round out the concert performances.

The Festival’s Family Day on Tuesday, July 3 offers tours and an open house with a 7pm concert featuring homegrown bluegrass legends Seldom Scene, followed by a fireworks display.

Throughout the Festival, Fine Dining with food and wine pairings by chef Claire Lamborne, proprietor of Claire’s in Warrenton, Virginia, will be available in the Great Room at the small Theatre House on 663 Castleton View Road, before and after performances, by reservation only. Casual Castleton à la Carte Café selections will also be available at the Festival Theatre foyer on performance days.

This season, Castleton teams with Rutgers University to provide fellowships and college credit to dozens of young music professionals who will become part of the Castleton family, living, training and rehearsing with Festival Artistic Director Maestro Lorin Maazel, opera star and the Festival’s General Manager Nancy Gustafson, famed actor and Associate Artistic Director Dietlinde Turban Maazel, stage directors William Kerley and Dorothy Danner, and a roster of superb musicians, renowned faculty members and mentors, to prepare for five weekends of great performances.

THE CASTLETON FESTIVAL 2012 takes place at the Castleton Festival Theatre, located at 7 Castleton Meadows Lane, Castleton, Virginia, nestled in the rolling hills of Rappahannock County, 60 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. and 45 minutes from Charlottesville.

Tickets are $20, $50, $85 and $120 for most performances with discounted subscription packages available for three or six performances. Purchase tickets at the Castleton Festival website or contact the Castleton Concierge (866-974-0767 or info@castletonfestival.org) for tickets and information on accommodations, dining, and transportation.