Washington National Opera unveils 2009-10 season
Although dyed-in-the-Rhine types will still feel terribly disappointed that Washington National Opera had to shelve a complete production of Wagner’s Ring next season due to fiscal constraints, there are considerable attractions on the company’s 2009-2010 lineup. (That Ring has not been canceled outright, company officials hasten to reiterate, but merely postponed.)
The season, which WNO general director Placido Domingo describes as “a perfect balance” (some might call it a perfectly conservative balance), offers six staged productions, rather than the current seven, along with a Wagner opera in concert form and a concert of operatic excerpts.
First up in September is Rossini’s evergreen, The Barber of Seville. Making his company debut as Almaviva in this production will be the brilliant-toned tenor Lawrence Brownlee. The title role will be shared by Simone Alberghini and Marco Caria. Verdi’s sublime comedy Falstaff arrives in October. The title role has yet to be announced, but the cast includes Gordon Hawkins (Ford) and Nancy Maultsby (Dame Quickly).
Ariadne auf Naxos, the ingenious Richard Strauss opera, will be staged in late October/early November with a promising roster that includes Iréne Theorin (Ariadne), Kristine Jepson (Composer), Pär Lindskog and Ian Storey (alternating in the role of Bacchus).
Company music director Heinz Fricke, who will conduct Ariadne, will also be on the podium when WNO presents a concert version of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung in place of the originally slated staged production that would have rounded off the company’s ambitious Ring. Two performances in November will feature Theorin (Brünnhilde), Hawkins (Alberich), Storey (Siegfried) and Alan Held (Gunther).
WNO’s spring season opens in March 2010 with Gershwin’s iconic Porgy and Bess. Eric Owens and Lester Lynch will alternate as Porgy, Morenike Fadayomi (right) and Indira Mahajan as Bess. (Coincidentally, Porgy and Bess and The Barber of Seville are the two works that the Baltimore Opera won't be staging this spring, having filed for Chapter 11, so Baltimore opera lovers can catch both of them in DC next season.)
In April/May 2010, Mozart’s enduring comedy, The Marriage of Figaro, will offer such singers as Ildar Abdrazakov (Figaro), Teddy Tahu Rhodes (Almaviva) and Krassimira Stoyanova (Countess).
The company will introduce Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet into its repertoire in May/June 2010, featuring Carlos Alvarez in the title role, Samuel Ramey as Claudius and Diana Damrau as Ophelia. Domingo will conduct this infrequently encountered opera. He’ll also conduct a concert in October with Abdrazakov and celebrated mezzo Olga Borodina (the two singers are husband and wife).
All performances are at the Kennedy Center. Season subscriptions for ’09-’10 are $300 to $2,100. Single tickets will go on sale this summer.
An addition to WNO’s current season has also been announced: Domingo will sing a program called “From My Latin Soul,” featuring tangos, excerpts from zarzuelas and more. This concert, with the WNO Orchestra, will be on May 1 (2009) at DAR Constitution Hall.
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Washington National Opera. 'Falstaff,' top (R. Millard photographer for L.A. Opera); 'Porgy and Bess,' center (Karin Cooper, photographer); 'Hamlet,' above (Lyric Opera of Kansas City photo)