Washington National Opera Releases Schedule for 2015-16 Season
(WASHINGTON)-Washington National Opera (WNO), led by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, today announced its 60th anniversary season, one that highlights classic, contemporary, and American works. The 2015-2016 season includes a new-to-Washington staging of Bizet's Carmen, the world premiere of a newly revised version of Appomattox by composer Philip Glass and librettist Christopher Hampton, a revival of WNO's charming holiday production of Hansel and Gretel, the company premiere of Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars in a gripping production from Cape Town Opera, and WNO's first complete staging of Wagner's extraordinary four-part Ring Cycle, with a world-class cast under the direction of Francesca Zambello and featuring the WNO Orchestra conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin. Highlights from the 2015-2016 season will be performed by the WNO Orchestra and special guests at a free preview concert on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 6 p.m. as part of the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
"As WNO looks forward to celebrating 60 years of bringing great opera to Washington in 2015-2016, our season represents the breadth of who we are at WNO. From the classic to the contemporary, all of our upcoming productions are ambitious, challenging, and inspiring in their diversity, not to mention exhilarating and entertaining," said Ms. Zambello. "Next season is one of many firsts: our first fully staged Ring Cycle, our first Philip Glass and Kurt Weill operas, and our first time in the Eisenhower Theater in more than a decade. In addition, we will present many artists in their WNO debuts. We are excited to showcase the best of American artistry-and thrilled to welcome several international guests-so that we may offer you an outstanding season of opera and ideas that can only be experienced at the Kennedy Center."
WNO's 2015-2016 season opens with a new-to-Washington staging of one of opera's most enduring and beloved classics: Carmen, September 19 to October 3, 2015 in the Opera House. The final opera of French composer Georges Bizet, Carmen tells the story of the doomed love affair between the fiery gypsy Carmen and the dutiful soldier Don José.
The cast features two acclaimed French mezzo-sopranos, Clementine Margaine and Géraldine Chauvet, in the title role. Tenor Bryan Hymel makes his WNO debut as Don José, sharing the role with Rafael Davila (WNO's Norma and The Force of Destiny). The toreador Escamillo is portrayed by baritones Michael Todd Simpson (WNO's Show Boat and Florencia in the Amazon) and Aleksey Bogdanov, an alumnus of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. The role of the innocent village maiden Micaëla is shared by two rising star sopranos: Janai Brugger, in her WNO debut, and Jacqueline Echols, a veteran of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Evan Rogister (WNO's Moby-Dick) returns to lead the WNO Orchestra in interpreting some of the most memorable melodies in all of opera, including Carmen's rousing "Habanera" aria, the famous "Toreador Song," and many others. The production, from the Canadian Opera Company, is directed by E. Loren Meeker and features set designs by Michael Yeargan, costumes by François St-Aubin, and lighting design by Robert Wierzel.
A special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Performance of Carmen is presented in the Opera House on Friday, October 2, 2015 and features current singers and alumni of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, including Sarah Mesko (Domingo Cafritz Young Artist, 2010-2012) as Carmen. Complete casting for this special performance will be announced in the coming months.
WNO's season continues with the world premiere of the newly revised version of Appomattox, the first opera WNO has presented by the iconic American composer Philip Glass, with a libretto by the Academy Award-winning writer Christopher Hampton, November 14-22 in the Opera House. In the first act, we eavesdrop on history as the Civil War comes to its final resolution at the courthouse in Appomattox. Then, in the newly composed second act, we fast- forward 100 years to the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the struggle for civil rights continues.
Cast members take on dual roles to tell Glass and Hampton's powerful story. Bass- baritone David Pittsinger (WNO's Florencia in the Amazon and The Magic Flute) is Robert E. Lee and Edgar Ray Killen, baritone Richard Paul Fink is Ulysses S. Grant and Nicholas Katzenbach, and baritone Tom Fox sings the roles of two presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson. Former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist and rising star bass Soloman Howard is Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., while soprano Melody Moore (WNO's Florencia in the Amazon) sings the roles of Julia Grant and Viola Liuzzo and tenor Robert Brubaker is Wilmer McLean and J. Edgar Hoover in his WNO debut.
The brand-new WNO production is directed by Tazewell Thompson and features the set designs of Donald Eastman and costume designs of Merrily Murray-Walsh, all in their WNO debuts. Lighting design is by Robert Wierzel. The WNO Orchestra is led by American conductor Dennis Russell Davies, a noted champion of the music of Philip Glass, in his WNO debut.
Hansel and Gretel
Continuing its tradition of family opera during the holiday season, WNO is proud to present a revival of the company's hit production of Engelbert Humperdinck's classic Hansel and Gretel, December 12-20, 2015 in the Terrace Theater. The cast includes members and alumni of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and also features the return of the WNO Children's Chorus, which was seen in the 2014-2015 season's sold-out company premiere of The Little Prince. Directed by Sarah Meyers in her WNO debut, this whimsical and neon-colored production is the perfect introduction to opera for children of all ages and is performed in an easy-to-follow English translation.
Lost in the Stars
For the first time in 15 years, WNO returns to the Eisenhower Theater for an important company premiere, Kurt Weill's Lost in the Stars, February 12-20, 2016. Based on Alan Paton's novel Cry, the Beloved Country about apartheid in South Africa, this searing work defies categorization as an opera, a musical, or a play. Merging influences from Broadway, gospel, African spirituals, jazz, and blues, Lost in the Stars soars with thrilling operatic passages, including the haunting title number.
Following his turn in WNO's The Flying Dutchman, renowned bass-baritone Eric Owens returns for the role of Stephen Kumalo, a minister in apartheid-era South Africa who travels from his small village to Johannesburg to find his troubled son. The opera also stars Sean Panikkar (WNO's Salome and Nabucco) as The Leader and Wynn Harmon (WNO's Show Boat) as James Jarvis. The breathtaking production from Cape Town Opera is directed by Tazewell Thompson and features set and costume design by Michael Mitchell in his WNO debut and lighting design by Robert Wierzel. American conductor John DeMain (WNO's Show Boat) leads the WNO Orchestra in playing Weill's powerful score.
WNO concludes its 60th anniversary season with the most ambitious undertaking in all of opera: Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung. Three complete cycles will be presented from April 30 to May 22, 2016 and will be directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin. Spectacularly evoking the mythology of America, Zambello's acclaimed production draws provocative parallels between Wagner's fantastical drama and civilization's corruption of nature. The struggle for the possession of a powerful ring drives this extraordinary series of operas, in which the stakes- control of the entire world-could not be higher.
"Wagner's Ring is the pinnacle of great opera. The soaring music, the epic story, the humor, tragedy, and drama of it all-and the ultimate catharsis we feel-are reasons why we collectively come back to this masterpiece again and again," said Zambello. "The ability to produce this 'total work of art'-or gesamtkunstwerk to borrow Wagner's word-is a source of tremendous pride for any opera company and a rewarding experience for the entire community. I'm proud to bring our completed Ring home to WNO."
These spring 2016 performances will be the first time the company has presented the Ring in complete cycles in its history. WNO has previously presented the first three operas of the cycle individually: The Rhinegold in 2006, The Valkyrie in 2007, and Siegfried in 2009. The fourth opera, Twilight of the Gods, was presented in a successful concert staging in 2009.
Dates and performance times for each opera within each Cycle are as follows:
WNO's Ring cycles feature two outstanding Brünnhildes. Acclaimed British soprano Catherine Foster, who has stunned audiences at Wagner's hometown festival of Bayreuth in performances of the role, will make her U.S. debut in Cycles I and II. Internationally renowned Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, whose performances as Brünnhilde were highly acclaimed in this production's San Francisco run in 2011, makes her WNO debut in Cycle III. American heldentenor Daniel Brenna, a noted interpreter of Siegfried at opera houses across Europe, takes on the role in the United States for the first time. American bass-baritone Alan Held, an experienced Wagnerian who has appeared in more than 20 WNO productions, returns to his celebrated portrayal of Wotan. See below for complete casting by opera.
The Rhinegold The Valkyrie Siegfried Twilight of the Gods
Sat., April 30 - 7 p.m. Mon., May - 6 p.m. Wed., May 4 - 6 p.m. Fri., May 6 - 5 p.m.
Tue., May 10 -7:30 p.m. Wed., May 11 - 6 p.m. Fri., May 13 - 6 p.m. Sun., May 15 - 1 p.m.
Tue., May 17 -7:30 p.m. Wed., May 18 - 6 p.m. Fri., May 20 - 6 p.m. Sun., May 22 - 1 p.m.
Woglinde Wellgunde Flosshilde Alberich Fricka Wotan Freia
Jacqueline Echols ± Catherine Martin Renée Tatum* Gordon Hawkins Elizabeth Bishop Alan Held
Fasolt Julian Close* Fafner Soloman Howard ± Froh Richard Cox* Donner Ryan McKinny* Loge William Burden Mime David Cangelosi Erda Lindsay Ammann*
Siegmund Sieglinde Hunding Wotan Brünnhilde
Mime Siegfried Wanderer Alberich
Catherine Foster* (Cycles I & II) Nina Stemme* (Cycle III) Elizabeth Bishop
David Cangelosi Daniel Brenna* Alan Held Gordon Hawkins
Gerhilde Helmwige Waltraute Schwertleite Ortlinde Siegrune Grimgerde Rossweisse
Fafner Forest Bird Erda Brünnhilde
Hagen Gutrune Waltraute Alberich Woglinde Wellgunde Flosshilde
Marcy Stonikas* Lori Phillips Renée Tatum Lindsay Ammann Melody Moore Eve Gigliotti* Catherine Martin Daryl Freedman
Soloman Howard ±
Jacqueline Echols ±
Catherine Foster (Cycles I & II) Nina Stemme (Cycle III)
Eric Halfvarson Melissa Citro* Jamie Barton* Gordon Hawkins Jacqueline Echols ± Catherine Martin Renée Tatum*
Twilight of the Gods
First Norn Second Norn Third Norn Brünnhilde
Catherine Foster (Cycles I & II) Nina Stemme (Cycle III) Daniel Brenna
* Washington National Opera debut
± Alumnus of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program
The creative team includes set design by Michael Yeargan, costume design by Catherine Zuber, lighting design by Mark McCullough, projection design by S. Katy Tucker and Jan Hartley, and choreography by Denni Sayers. Each opera will be performed in German with projected English titles.
To help patrons have a complete, immersive experience, WNO is designing a week's worth of lectures, education events, dining experiences, late-night happenings, and other social events during each of the three cycles. Events include lectures and symposia in music, literature, the visual arts, and more; additional information will be announced soon at www.kennedy- center.org/ring.
Subscription packages to The Ring are on sale now to renewing subscribers. Packages go on sale to Kennedy Center members on April 6, 2015 and to the general public on April 13, 2015.
American Opera Initiative
WNO's acclaimed commissioning program for contemporary American opera-the American Opera Initiative-enters its fourth exciting season with four more world premiere presentations featuring Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and other talented performers among the casts. Three new 20-minute operas, each based on a contemporary American story, will be staged in a concert performance on Wednesday, December 2, 2015, and a new hour-long opera will receive two premiere performances on Friday, January 8 and Sunday, January 10, 2016.
The composer-librettist teams of each opera will collaborate on their works with distinguished mentors who have each enjoyed professional success with new American operas. Complete details of the American Opera Initiative's composer-librettist teams, their new operas, and the new program mentors will be announced in the coming weeks.
Special vocal concerts round out the season
Following her highly acclaimed debut as Madame Lidoine in Dialogues of the Carmelites, rising star soprano Leah Crocetto returns to the Kennedy Center for an intimate evening of stories and song, Friday, February, 26, 2016 in the Terrace Theater. Together with piano accompaniment by Mark Markham, Crocetto performs a program ranging from art songs to opera arias to popular classics.
The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists continue their annual tradition in a special program of scenes and arias from favorite operas in Stars of Tomorrow: The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists in Concert, Saturday, May 21, 2016 in the Opera House. The concert features the WNO debut of American conductor James Gaffigan, the Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra.
Season preview concert
WNO presents highlights from the 2015-2016 season in a free preview concert as part of the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage series on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage. Featuring members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and special guest artists, the concert will introduce the dynamic characters and unforgettable music from next season's repertoire.
Free Opera Insights before every performance
WNO presents a free pre-performance learning event prior to every performance in the Opera House. These Opera Insights may include conversations with members of the production staff and lectures by WNO artistic staff members. These pre-performance events begin one hour prior to curtain and last approximately 25 minutes.
A special series of Opera Insights features lectures by noted musicologist Saul Lilienstein. These programs begin one hour and 15 minutes prior to curtain and last approximately 40 minutes:
Carmen: Thursday, September 24, 2015 Appomattox: Tuesday, November 18, 2015 Lost in the Stars: Thursday, February 18, 2016 Ring Cycle I: Saturday, April 30, 2016
Ring Cycle II: Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Ring Cycle III: Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Patrons can also go behind the scenes of WNO's productions at special Artist Q&A sessions following select performances of each opera. All Q&A events are free with any ticket to the production being discussed.
Carmen: Sunday, September 20, 2015; Monday, September 21, 2015; and Sunday, September 27, 2015
Appomattox: Monday, November 16, 2015; Friday, November 20, 2015 Lost in the Stars: Sunday, February 14, 2016
WNO will continue to offer free preview performances of its productions on the Millennium Stage. Dates for these and other Millennium Stage performances will be announced in the coming months.
MyTix program continues access to opera
Several of the 2015-2016 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 free and discounted tickets to a wide variety of performances. 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.
Subscription renewals and new subscriptions to WNO's 2015-2016 season (including Carmen, Appomattox, and Lost in the Stars) are available now. To purchase a subscription, patrons should call the Subscription Office at (202) 416-8500 or go to www.kennedy-center.org/subscriptions. Subscriptions may be purchased in advance of general on-sale dates, which will be announced soon. Groups of 20 or more may contact the Kennedy Center Group Sales office at (202) 416- 8400. WNO's Ring Cycle is available as an optional add-on to a subscription. Ring subscription packages are on sale now to renewing subscribers; to Kennedy Center members on April 6, 2015; and to the general public on April 13, 2015. Single tickets to individual Ring operas, if available, will go on sale in 2016.
Artists and performances are subject to change
ABOUT WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA
Washington National Opera (WNO) is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the company presents a diverse season of grand opera-including both classics from the repertory and more contemporary pieces-plus an annual holiday family opera, several newly commissioned American works, and a variety of special concerts and events. The WNO Orchestra is led by Music Director Philippe Auguin. Founded in 1956 and an affiliate of the Kennedy Center since 2011, WNO has a storied legacy of world premieres, new productions, international tours, live recordings and radio broadcasts, and innovative education and community-engagement programs. Throughout its history WNO has been led by titans in the opera field, including the legendary Plácido Domingo, who headed the company from 1996 to 2011.
WNO contributes to the future of opera through two signature artist-development programs. The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, now in its 13th season, has become one of the nation's most competitive and comprehensive professional training programs for young singers and collaborative pianists. Alumni of the program have won major competitions and gone on to successful careers at major operas houses in the U.S. and abroad. The WNO Opera Institute nurtures the ambitions of high-school-age singers from across the nation during an intensive three-week summer program held at American University in Washington.
Among the company's most successful recent programs is the 2012 launch of the American Opera Initiative, a comprehensive commissioning program that works to expand the American operatic repertory, to give WNO's young artists the chance to collaborate with living composers and librettists on new works, and to make American opera more relevant to 21st century audiences. The most popular of WNO's community-engagement programs is M&M'S® Opera in the Outfield, during which an opera is broadcast live from the Kennedy Center Opera House stage to the high-definition scoreboard at Nationals Park. Last season's simulcast drew more than 10,000 spectators to the ballpark. The company's other education programs include the Kids Create Opera program at local elementary schools, Look-In performances for students in grades 4-8, and the Student Dress Rehearsal Program for middle and high school students. The company also offers free Opera Insights programs before every performance in the Opera House.
To celebrate the company's 60th anniversary, Washington National Opera will present three complete cycles of Wagner's Ring in spring 2016. These performances, featuring an acclaimed production by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Music Director Philippe Auguin, will be the first time the company has presented The Ring in complete cycles in its history.
For more information, please visit the Washington National Opera website. Discover Washington National Opera on social media:
Major support for WNO is provided by Jacqueline Badger Mars.
David and Alice Rubenstein are the Presenting Underwriters of WNO.
WNO acknowledges the longstanding generosity of Life Chairman Mrs. Eugene B. Casey.
Washington National Opera's season is presented with the support of Daniel and Gayle D'Aniello.
Generous support of WNO's artistic programming is provided by Clarice Smith.
General Dynamics is the proud sponsor of WNO's 2015-2016 Season.
Initial funding for WNO's 2016 Ring is provided in part by Jacqueline B. Mars.
The Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is made possible through the generous support of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.
Additional funding for the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is provided by Judy and Billy Cox.
MyTix, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David and Alice Rubenstein.