« Alsop, Baltimore Symphony in fate-filled program | Main | More buzz about arts gaining place in White House »

January 12, 2009

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)

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:48 AM | | Comments (0)

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
View the Artsmash blog

Baltimore Sun coverage
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Marin Alsop
Famous faces in classical music
Sign up for FREE entertainment alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Most Recent Comments
Stay connected