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July 2, 2010

Castleton Festival on Lorin Maazel's Virginia estate opens this weekend

For those of us who can't afford to dash off to Salzburg or Bayreuth or Lucerne or Glyndebourne or any other tony summer opera mecca, the Castleton Festival on the grounds of the expansive Virginia estate of Lorin Maazel makes an awfully satisfying alternative.

All right, you hear budding singers, rather than certified big-name artists. But, hey, Castleton is still pretty starry, what with Maazel conducting many of the performances.

The productions can be very compelling, and they certainly guarantee more intimate experiences than you would find in most places. (The tent seats about 400; at the jewel box Theater House on the grounds, you share operas with only 130 folks.)

And you don't have to think about lugging formal wear with you.

Oh yeah, there's also

the lovely drive into the hills of Rappahannock County and the idyllic Castleton Farms itself, where some llamas roam to picturesque effect.

I've got more details in today's paper about the 2010 festival, which opens this weekend. I plan to head down on the Fourth for "Il Trittico." Maybe I'll see you there.

PHOTOS BY LESLIE MAAZEL (above -- a rehearsal in the tent, a performance of "The Beggar's Opera" in the Theater House) and VICTORIA ASCHHEIM (below -- the tent being set up on the grounds)


Posted by Tim Smith at 8:58 AM | | Comments (0)

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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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