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April 28, 2009

Washington National Opera to present concert version of 'Turandot' in Baltimore at the Lyric

Grand opera is coming back to Baltimore this season -- not in its absolute grandest of forms, with sets and costumes and all, and just for one night, but it's still good news.

The Lyric Opera House, where the Baltimore Opera Company made its home for decades before folding this season, will present a concert version of Washington National Opera's production of Puccini’s Turandot on June 2. This concert will come just before the end of the company's staged Turandot run at the Kennedy Center Opera House (May 16 to June 4). Dynamic Russian soprano Maria Guleghina will sing the title role in Baltimore opposite Argentine tenor Dario Volonté as Calaf. The performance will also feature the full WNO orchestra and chorus.

Since the demise of Baltimore Opera, after 51 years, there has been a lot of talk about some form of opera returning to the Lyric, and there were discussions early on between the theater and the DC company about some form of collaboration. It remains to be seen how much of a presence Washington National may develop in Baltimore; a lot will no doubt be riding on this first venture.

It also remains to be seen how many other organizations will attempt operatic presentations at the Lyric. A troupe from Eastern Europe is expected to offer up to three staged productions next season, while the recently formed Baltimore Concert Opera has been talking about expanding in the future from its current small-scale base at the Engineers Club to a larger one at the Lyric.

Meanwhile, the arrival of Washington National Opera promises to provide a welcome jolt to Baltimore's music scene during a recession-battered season.

In statements released late Tuesday, Washington Opera's general director, famed tenor Plácido Domingo thanked "the Lyric Opera House board for the gracious invitation to perform a concert version of Turandot ... [T]his concert will be a celebration of great opera in Baltimore.”

From Sandy Richmond, the Lyric's executive director: "The Lyric has a decades-long tradition of hosting opera of the highest quality, and we’re proud to continue that tradition with WNO. ”

And from WNO executive director Mark Weinstein. “Washington National Opera wants to do everything within our power to keep the tradition of world-class opera alive for our neighbors in Baltimore.”

Turandot will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 2 at the Lyric. Tickets are $40-$100. Call 410-900-1150 or 410-547-7328, or go to

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:23 PM | | Comments (2)


Fantastic news! And "Turandot" is my absolute favourite opera -- in fact, I already have tickets to see it at the Kennedy Center in late May. (So I'll be passing on the concert performance here.) I hope that the WNO draws some good attention from this effort!

Thanks for your comments. It sure will be interesting to see how the company is received in Baltimore. TIM

Dear Mr. Smith,
The troupe from Easter Europe has made arrangements or is in negotiations to perform at the Hippodrome Theatre under the name Baltimore Opera Theatre. They will not be appearing at the Lyric Opera House. It is said Maestro Green will be the chorus master, with the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra musicians in the pit.

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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.
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