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February 1, 2011

Washington National Opera announces mostly-Italian 2011-12 season

Washington National Opera's 2011-12 season -- the last one prepared by outgoing general director Placido Domingo -- will be heavy on the Italian flavor.

Puccini's "Tosca," conducted by Domingo, opens the season in September, followed by Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" in November. Verdi's "Nabucco" and Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" (in this case, of course, it's the libretto that's Italian, not the composer) will follow. A great French opera will be bring a change of language and style to close the season: Massenet's "Werther."

Domingo called the season announcement "bittersweet" in the press release. "I am proud that I and my team have crafted a powerful season with quality and artistic integrity as our number-one goals," he said. Although this is his last major stamp on the company, the tenor went on to say that "WNO will forever be in my heart, and I do plan to stay involved with the company." WNO will be absorbed into the Kennedy Center starting in July.

All five productions for '11-'12 will be new to WNO. One of them, "Cosi," is being touched up by

director/designer Jonathan Miller with "costuming inspired by Washington, DC."

"Tosca" will star Patricia Racette (alternating in the title role with Natalia Ushakova) , Frank Porretta (alternating with Gwyn Hughes Jones as Cavaradossi) and Alan Held (alternating with Scott Hendricks as Scarpia). Israel Gursky will share podium duties with Domingo. The director is David Kneuss.

"Lucia" is also double-cast: Sarah Coburn and Lyubov Petrova (Lucia), Saimir Pirgu and Alexey Dolgov (Edgardo). WNO music director Philippe Auguin conducts. The director is David Alden.

The Jonathan Miller "Cosi" staging features Elizabeth Futral, Renata Pokupic, Joel Prieto, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, William Shimell and Ketevan Kemoklidze. Auguin conducts.

WNO's first production of "Nabucco" will be directed and designed by Thaddeus Strassberger and conducted by Auguin. The cast includes Franco Vassallo and Csilla Boross.

"Werther" offers Francesco Meli in the title role, with Sonia Ganassi as Charlotte. Emmanuel Villaume conducts. The director is TBA.

The season will also see the continuation for the Placido Domingo Celebrity Series with concerts by Deborah Voigt (in a Broadway program) and Angela Gheorghiu.

PHOTO (by Robert Workman for English National Opera) COURTESY OF WNO

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:39 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Opera

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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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