Washington National Opera Announces 2018/19 Season; LA TRAVIATA, SILENT NIGHT, ONEGIN, and More!
Washington National Opera (WNO), led by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, announces its 2018-2019 season, one that continues its focus on bold productions of classic operas, fascinating contemporary perspectives, and the best in American artistry. The season includes a new WNO production of Verdi's classic romantic drama La traviata, the company premiere of Kevin Puts's and Mark Campbell's Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night, Tchaikovsky's epic Eugene Onegin, Gounod's devilishly entertaining Faust, and Puccini's towering masterpiece Tosca. The season also features a weekend of four world premieres during the American Opera Initiative Festival; a revival of WNO's hit world-premiere holiday family opera The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me; a special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist performance of La traviata; and other exciting vocal events, including the annual Mars, lnc.'s Opera in the Outfield.
"Washington National Opera's 2018-2019 season represents the creative spirit and values of our company showcasing new works alongside classics," said WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "The line-up next season offers operas long absent from our repertory, as well as several new works. I am also pleased to return French and Russian titles alongside the Italian operas, as well as our enduring commitment to American works in English. One of the most unique aspects of our company is the opportunity to perform in four dynamic theater spaces of the Kennedy Center."
As announced in the fall, Timothy O'Leary begins his tenure as the WNO's General Director this summer, in advance of the 2018-2019 season. "It is a thrill to be joining Francesca Zambello and the entire Washington National Opera team for the launch of the 2018-2019 season," said O'Leary, who is currently General Director Designate. "As I have gotten to know the people of this company over the past few months, my excitement about its future has only grown. I am so grateful to all the artists, technicians, staff, board members, supporters, volunteers, and audience members who have already been so welcoming. I can't wait to join the wonderful WNO, Kennedy Center, and Washington D.C. communities."
WNO's 2018-2019 season opens with Verdi's tragic romance La traviata, October 6- 21, in the Opera House. The worldly courtesan Violetta has made Paris her playground, but life's greatest pleasure continues to elude her: true love. Her world changes forever when she meets the young and impetuous Alfredo. Violetta allows herself to follow her heart, but the strict rules of 19th-century society force them apart. A short-lived final reunion between the two lovers showcases Verdi's immense skill as a composer and dramatist, and seals the opera's reputation as one of the most beloved works in the repertory.
A star at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre who has been hailed as "the new voice of Russia," Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva makes her WNO debut as the ill-fated Violetta, a role she has portrayed to great acclaim at the Royal Opera House in London, Opera National de Paris, La Fenice in Venice, and other important theaters around the world. In 2017, she was the toast of Santa Fe Opera for her riveting performance as the Queen of Shemakha in The Golden Cockerel. As Violetta's lover Alfredo, American tenor Joshua Guerrero makes his WNO debut. Following multiple prizes at the 2014 Operalia competition, Guerrero continues to enjoy a skyrocketing international career in roles ranging from Greenhorn in Moby-Dick at LA Opera to The Duke in Rigoletto at English National Opera. American baritone Lucas Meachem makes his WNO debut as Alfredo's stern father, Giorgio Germont. Meachem's career includes the landmark
baritone roles of Figaro in // barbiere di Siviglia at Vienna State Opera and the Royal Opera House, Marcello in La boheme at the Metropolitan Opera, and Malatesta in Don Pasquale at San Francisco Opera.
WNO welcomes a second cast to the production of La traviata for three performances on October 7, 14, and 20, 2018. Jacqueline Echols, a graduate of WNO's Domingo Cafritz Young Artist Program, returns to WNO to take on the challenging role of Violetta, a role she first performed at North Carolina Opera. Her roles at WNO include Micaela in Carmen, Clorinda in Cinderella, Woglinde and Forest Bird in the
2016 Ring Cycle, and Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking. Her other recent appearances include Pip in Moby-Dick at LA Opera and The Dallas Opera and Helen Gibson in the world premiere of The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera. Guatemalan tenor Mario Chang makes his WNO debut as Alfredo. A First Prize, Zarzuela Prize, and audience prize winner at the 2014 Operalia competition, Chang's operatic highlights include the role of Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore at the Metropolitan Opera, his LA Opera debut as Rodolfo in La boheme conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier, which he performed both at the Met under the baton of Edward Gardner and with the National Symphony Orchestra opposite Renee Fleming under the baton of Christoph Eschenbach. A veteran on the WNO stage, baritone Michael Chioldi returns as Germont. His previous WNO work includes Figaro in // barbiere di Siviglia, the title role in Hamlet, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly, as well as roles in Andrea Chenier, Billy Budd, and Lucia di Lammermoor.
This exciting new production of La traviata is directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. Lavish designs by Peter Davison set the production in turn-of the-century Paris, and Jess Goldstein complements these with his costume design. Rounding out the creative team are associate director and choreographer Keturah Stickann and lighting designer Mark McCullough. Leading the WNO Orchestra is Italian conductor Renato Palumbo, one of the most important Verdi conductors of his generation, who previously led Verdi's Macbeth at WNO in 2007.
A special Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Performance of La traviata takes place in the Opera House on Friday, October 19, 2018, and features current singers and alumni
of WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Complete casting for this performance will be announced in the coming months.
WNO's season continues with the company premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classic Silent Night, November 10-25, in the intimate Eisenhower Theater. The opera, with music by Kevin Puts and a libretto by Mark Campbell (a frequent mentor to WNO's American Opera Initiative), is based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noel, which was nominated for an Academy Award® to r Best Foreign Language Film. Silent Night recounts the true story of a miraculous moment of peace during one of the bloodiest wars in human history. On World War l's Western Front, weapons are laid down when the Scottish, French, and German officers defy their superiors and negotiate a Christmas Eve truce. Enemies become brothers as they come together to share Christmas and bury their dead. Since its world premiere at Minnesota Opera in 2011, Silent Night has been performed the world over; WNO's performances coincide with the centennial of the end of World War I. The opera is performed in English, French, German, Italian, and Latin.
A true ensemble piece, the cast of Silent Night is filled almost exclusively by graduates of WNO's prestigious Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Cast members include soprano Raquel Gonzalez; baritones Michael Adams, Aleksey Bogdanov, Christian Bowers, Hunter Enoch, and Norman Garrett; and basses Timothy J. Bruno and Kenneth Kellogg. Additional casting details will be announced in the coming months.
The production, set in the trenches on the front lines during the First World War, is a co-production of Atlanta Opera, The Wexford Festival, and The Glimmerglass Festival. Tomer Zvulun, the General and Artistic Director of Atlanta Opera, makes his WNO debut as director. Nicole Paiement, who conducted WNO's The Little Prince in 2014 and The Dictator's Wife in 2017 and will conduct Candide in May 2018, leads the WNO Orchestra in interpreting Puts's evocative and moving score.
The Lion. the Unicorn. and Me
Continuing its tradition of producing a family opera during the holiday season, WNO presents the first revival of its much-admired world-premiere production of The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me, December 14-16, in the Terrace Theater. Featuring a score by Tony® winner Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home; Shrek The Musical; Caroline, or Change), an English-language libretto by poet and playwright J.D. McClatchy, and direction by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, this family-friendly opera is based on the award-winning children's book by Jeanette Winterson and tells the story of the first Christmas from an unlikely point of view. The cast includes members of the Domingo Cafritz Young Artist Program and also features the WNO Children's Chorus. James Lowe, who last appeared in 2017 leading The Little Prince, conducts the WNO Orchestra.
American Opera Initiative Festival
Now in its seventh season, WNO once again hosts the groundbreaking American Opera Initiative Festival, a weekend celebrating the continuing vitality of new American opera, January 11-13, 2019, in the Terrace Theater.
Following many sold-out performances of Approaching Ali (2013), An American Soldier (2014), Penny (2015), Better Gods (2016), The Dictator's Wife (2017), and Proving Up (2018), WNO presents the world premiere of Taking Up Serpents by composer Kamala Sankaram and librettist Jerre Dye. This engrossing hour-long work explores the controversial world of religious snake-handling. Sankaram has received commissions from Beth Morrison Projects and American Lyric Theater, while Dye is a prolific playwright and up-and-coming opera librettist. Members of the WNO Orchestra are conducted by Lidiya Yankovskaya, the new music director of Chicago Opera Theater.
Yankovskaya was part of the inaugural residency program of The Dallas Opera's Hart Institute for Women Conductors in 2015 and currently serves as artistic director of Boston's Juventas New Music Ensemble and the Boston New Music Festival. Taking Up Serpents is presented on January 11 and 13, 2019.
The popular Three 20-Minute Operas, featuring the work of three new composer librettist teams, are presented at two performances on January 12, 2019, with
members of the WNO Orchestra conducted by Steven Osgood, the General and Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Opera Company. Osgood serves as one of three formidable mentors to the American Opera Initiative, alongside the acclaimed team of composer Jake Heggie (Moby-Dick and Dead Man Walking) and librettist Gene Scheer (Moby-Dick). More information on the three composer-librettist teams selected for the 20-Minute Operas will be announced in the coming months.
Tchaikovsky's masterpiece of unrequited passion, Eugene Onegin returns to the Opera House for the first time in more than 30 years, March 9-29, 2019, in a classic, elegant production. Standing supreme as the most popular of all Russian operas, Eugene Onegin features a breathtakingly beautiful score, in which every episode contributes to the overwhelming cumulative impact of Tchaikovsky's lyricism.
The cast is led by two Russian stars making their WNO debuts. Soprano Anna Nechaeva sings her signature role of Tatiana, which she has masterfully performed with the Mikhailovsky and Bolshoi theatres in Russia. She is joined by baritone Igor Golovatenko, who makes his U.S. debut in the title role. Winner of the 2008 St.
Petersburg "Three Centuries of Classical Romance" competition, Golovatenko has thrilled audiences in this role at Teatro San Carlo di Napoli and Moscow's Novaya Opera Theatre. Nechaeva and Golovatenko have sung these roles together at the 2017 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and the 2017 Savonlinna Opera Festival.
The stellar cast also features Russian tenor Alexey Dolgov in his return to WNO as Onegin's ill-fated friend Lensky, following his acclaimed run as The Duke in Rigoletto in 2008 and as Rodolfo in La boheme in 2014. Dolgov's celebrated Lensky has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Bavarian State Opera, and the Bolshoi Theatre. American bass Eric Halfvarson, who was an unforgettably menacing Hagen in WNO's 2016 Ring Cycle, also returns to WNO as the stately Prince Gremin. A trio of mezzo-sopranos two American, one Russian-round out the opera's supporting roles. Lindsay Ammann-who was Erda, Schwertleite, and First Norn in WNO's Ring Cycle-sings the role of Olga. Victoria Livengood, heard previously at WNO as The Marquise in La fille
du regiment and Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro, is Filippyevna. Elena Zaremba returns to WNO as Madame Larina (Fricka in Die Walkure and Erda in Das Rheingold).
Leading the WNO Orchestra in Tchaikovsky's expressive score is American conductor Robert Trevino in his WNO debut. Trevino, who burst into the international spotlight conducting Verdi's Don Carlo at the Bolshoi Theatre in December 2013, is the Music Director of the Basque National Orchestra in San Sebastian, Spain. He has also served as Associate Conductor at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and New York City Opera.
This Canadian Opera Company production, originally created by celebrated Canadian director Robert Carsen for the Metropolitan Opera in 2007, is directed for WNO by Peter McClintock, a stage director at the Met for more than 30 years. His work has been seen at WNO in The Queen of Spades in 2002, Samson et Dalila in 2005, and The Golden Gala in 2006.
A deal with the devil goes captivatingly awry in Gounod's tragedy, Faust, March 16- 30, 2019 in the Opera House. One of the most important French works in the repertory, Faust has not been seen at WNO in 25 years. In the familiar tale, Faust makes an infernal bargain for the love of the beautiful and innocent Marguerite, with devastating results. Gounod's colorful music expertly captures the struggle between religion, morality, and sin.
Starring as the object-of-affection Marguerite is Canadian soprano Erin Wall, who was last seen at WNO as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in 2007. Wall enjoys a major international career at the world's leading opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Vienna State Opera, and Opera National de Paris. French tenor Benjamin Bernheim makes his WNO debut in the title role. Following his success as a member of the ensemble and as a resident artist at Opernhaus ZUrich, Bernheim is now featured in impressive debuts at renowned venues throughout Europe and America. Wall and Bernheim will also appear together in a new production of Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago in March 2018.
Also featured in the cast are American bass Raymond Aceto, who was last seen at WNO as Hunding in WNO's 2016 Ring Cycle, as the fiendish Mephistopheles, and Joshua Hopkins, the Canadian baritone who starred at WNO as Papageno in The Magic Flute in 2014 and as Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro in 2016, as Marguerite's brother Valentin. Two American mezzo-sopranos, both alumni of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, round out the cast: Allegra De Vita is Siebel, a boy in love with Marguerite, and Deborah Nansteel is Marthe, Marguerite's guardian.
The production, from Houston Grand Opera, is directed by Garnett Bruce, and the WNO Orchestra is conducted by Keri-Lynn Wilson.
WNO's 2018-2019 season concludes with one of the most popular operas in the repertory, Puccini's riveting drama Tosca, May 11-25, 2019, in the Opera House. Set in a trio of signature Roman locales, Tosca follows a strong-willed diva as she makes the ultimate leap of faith in pursuit of love. This new-to-Washington production was originally seen at Seattle Opera and is part of the Kennedy Center's Celebration of Italian Culture in 2019. Heading the powerhouse cast is American soprano Keri Alkema as Tosca, a role she has played to great acclaim at opera houses in London, Frankfurt, and Toronto. Alkema is an alumna of the first-ever class of the Domingo-Cafritz Young
Artist Program. Italian tenor Riccardo Massi makes his WNO debut as Tosca's doomed lover Cavaradossi, a signature role he has portrayed across a stunning lineup of global stages, including the Royal Opera House, Opera Australia, and the Hamburg State Opera. WNO company stalwart Alan Held is the evil Scarpia, a role he performed at WNO in 2011; the American bass-baritone most recently sang the leading role of Wotan in WNO's Ring Cycle in 2016.
At the performances on May 12 and 19, 2019, two notable singers make their WNO debuts: Latonia Moore, a rising-star American soprano who has sung Tosca at New York City Opera, is Puccini's heroine. She made a dazzling debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 in the title role in Aida, filling in for an ill colleague on less than a day's notice. American tenor Robert Watson is Cavaradossi, a role he has sung while a
member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Watson is familiar to local audiences as a two-time Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, where he sang the role of Lt. B.F. Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with the National Symphony Orchestra.
Other members of the cast include David Cangelosi, who memorably sang the role of Mime in WNO's Ring Cycle 2016, as Spoletta, and former Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Wei Wu, who won raves in 2017 for his role in the world premiere of Mason Bates's The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at Santa Fe Opera, as the Sacristan.
Italian conductor Speranza Scappucci, who made her WNO debut in 2015 leading the WNO Orchestra in Rossini's Cinderella, returns to interpret Puccini's harrowing score. Tosca is directed by Ethan McSweeny, a local favorite who is a mainstay at D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company and whose work has been seen at WNO in the 2016 world premiere of Better Gods and the 2017 world premiere of The Dictator's Wife, both presented as part of the American Opera Initiative.
Other Special Vocal Events of the 2018-2019 Season
Named for the groundbreaking African American contralto, the Marian Anderson Vocal Award recognizes a young American singer in opera, oratorio, or recital repertoire with outstanding promise for a significant career. In addition to a cash prize and an educational residency at Washington's Duke Ellington School of the Arts, the winner performs in a recital co-presented by WNO and the Kennedy Center's Fortas Chamber Music Concerts. This year's recipient is gifted bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green, who gives an intimate recital on October 4 in the Terrace Theater. Green was selected by a distinguished panel comprising Evans Mirageas (Artistic Director Cincinnati Opera and Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), Michael Heaston (Executive and Acting Artistic director of Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program), Francesca Zambello (WNO Artistic Director), Andrew Jorgensen (WNO Director of Artistic Planning and Operations), director Tazewell Thompson (Lost In The Stars and Appomattox at WNO), mezzo-soprano and former Marian Anderson Prize winner Denyce Graves, and soprano and Kennedy Center Honoree Martina Arroyo.
In their annual spring showcase, members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program star in A Concert of Comic Masterpieces on Friday, May 24, 2019, in the Opera House. Accompanied by the WNO Orchestra, the Young Artists will perform the complete first act and closing fugue of Giuseppe Verdi's final masterpiece, Falstaff, as well as other ensembles from the world's wittiest operas.
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and its Music Director, Gianandrea Noseda, present several programs highlighting vocal music during the 2018-2019 season. In November, honoring the centennial of the World War I Armistice, Noseda leads the NSO in two performances of Benjamin Britten's epic War Requiem, featuring-as Britten intended-a Russian soprano (Karina Flores), British tenor (Ian Bostridge), and German baritone (Matthias Goerne). Early music specialist Nicholas McGegan leads the NSO's annual performances of Handel's Messiah in December. Soprano Renee Fleming joins Noseda and the NSO for an all-Schubert program in January 2019. As part of the Kennedy Center's Celebration of Italian Culture in the spring, Noseda leads a program of Italian music that includes Rossini's Stabat Mater with vocalists Erika Grimaldi, soprano; Chiara Aman), mezzo-soprano; Piere Pretti, tenor; and Luca Pisaroni, bass-baritone; along with the University of Maryland Concert Choir, Edward Maclary, director. Mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili makes her NSO debut with Noseda and the Orchestra for Luciano Berio's Folk Songs in June 2019.
The Kennedy Center's 2018-2019 Fortas Chamber Music Concerts series also includes several notable vocal events, presented in the intimate Terrace Theater. Soprano Robin Johanssen appears with the Venice Baroque Chamber Ensemble on April 10, 2019, in a program of Italian repertoire, also part of the Center-wide Celebration of Italian Culture; and the Tallis Scholars perform A Renaissance Christmas: The Song of Mary on December 5.
Renee Fleming VOICES in 2018-2019 features a recital by Grammy®-nominated mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton (March 23, 2019) in the Terrace Theater. Barton last appeared with WNO in Wagner's Ring Cycle in 2016 and sings in the upcoming Don Carlo.
Subscription renewals and new subscriptions to WNO's 2018-2019 season are available now. To purchase a subscription, patrons should call the Subscription Office at (202) 416-8500 or go to www.kennedy-center.org/subscribe
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.