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March 6, 2012

Kennedy Center announces National Symphony, Washington National Opera 2012-13 seasons

The music portion of the Kennedy Center's 2012-2013 season, announced Tuesday, includes a rich assortment of repertoire led by Christoph Eschenbach in his third season as music director of the National Symphony Orchestra and a trio of dynamic sopranos fueling Washington National Opera's productions.

Just during his first few programs in the fall, Eschenbach will conduct Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," works by Wagner, Bruckner's Seventh, Dvoark's Seventh and Peter Lieberson's "Neruda Songs" (with mezzo Kelley O'Connor), among other things.

Eschenbach will also participate in the Center's Nordic Cool 2013 festival, conducting works by Sibelius, Lindberg and Saariaho.

Symphonies by Shostakovich and Schnittke also are on Eschenbach's list; he and the NSO will take them to Carnegie Hall as well.

Guest artists include ...

Lang Lang, who will appear in several programs, including Beethoven concertos and a dual piano recital with Eschenbach. Other soloists on the roster: pianists Emanuel Ax, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Yuja Wang; cellist Alisa Weilerstein; violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter; and mezzo mezzo Anne-Sophie von Otter.

Guest conductors include John Adams, leading his "City Noir" on a program with pianist Jeremy Denk; and Vasily Petrenko and Jaap van Zweden, who will participate in a new Chicago Symphony-developed format, "Beyond the Score," which incorporates a multimedia presentation about, and complete performance of, a major work.

Washington National Opera's season is heavy on works in Italian: Donizetti's "Anna Bolena," Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," and Bellini's "Norma," with the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein classic "Show Boat" and a family production of Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" (with current and former members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program) providing a linguistic and stylistic switch.

"Norma" will star Angela Meade, the much admired young soprano who seems poised for a major career; she will also be heard in a recital as part of the season lineup.

Two dynamic, well-established sopranos will also be featured during the season: Sondra Radvanovsky in "Anna Bolena," Patricia Racette in "Manon Lescaut."

"Don Giovanni" will star Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role, with Paulo Szot, Tony-winning star of "South Pacific" on Broadway, taking the part for one performance.

"Show Boat," directed by WNO artistic advisor Francesca Zambello (this co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago just opened to mixed reviews), will feature Rod Gilfry and Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

The company's popular Celebrity Concert Series will offer performances by soprano Diana Damrau and baritone Nathan Gunn.


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:29 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Clef Notes, NSO, Opera


We are for many years full season subscribers to WNO: a major BOOOOOOOO to the inclusion of a musical (as good as this one is) in place of a true opera in the next season! We feel we are being dumbed opera down and are not happy about having to pay for it to maintain our subscription and seats.

Next season I hear they're going to include
an opera based on "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

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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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