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January 10, 2012

Washington National Opera announces complete Ring Cycle, commission projects

Washington National Opera, now firmly a component of the Kennedy Center, made welcome news Tuesday.

For starters, the long-delayed complete "Ring" Cycle -- the company started it, but ran out of money before reaching "Götterdämmerung" -- will be presented in 2016.

This is the so-called "American" Ring, a concept developed by Francesca Zambello, who directed the first three installments in Washington ("Das Rheingold" in 2006, "Die Walküre" in 2007, "Siegfried" in 2009).

Zambello directed the complete cycle last season at the San Francisco Opera. She is now WNO's artistic adviser and will direct at least one production for the company each season.

A concert version "Götterdämmerung" was presented in Washington in 2009, marking the WNO debut of conductor Philippe Auguin, subsequently named WNO music director. He will conduct complete cycle in 2016.

Staring next season, the company will launch a three-part commissioning project. First up, an opportunity for student composers and librettists (three teams will be chosen) to develop 20-minute operas "based on ..

contemporary American stories."

In the future, WNO will commission a new work of a one-hour length from "a more experienced American composer-librettist team," again with an American-oriented plot.

Ultimately, "a leading young American composer and librettist" will be commissioned to create "a full-length opera on a contemporary American theme." This work will be full staged and given a slot on the company's regular subscription season.

In other news, WNO will start using the Terrace Theater again for productions, the first time since 1987. Folks with long memories will recall some very effective, intimate opera experiences in that theater when it was regularly used by the company. And WNO will also start offering family-friendly holiday programming next season.


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:08 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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