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June 13, 2012

Washington National Opera sets first season of American Opera Initiatives

Washington National Opera's laudable commissioning project, American Opera Initiative, will kick off in the fall with the premiere of three 20-minute works, followed in summer 2013 by an hour-long piece.

All of the operas deal with American characters and subject matter; all will be performed in English.

The premiere trio will take place on Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center. "The Game of Hearts," with music by Douglas Pew and libretto by Dara Weinberg, is described as "a ...


comedic opera about a group of widows in a Seattle nursing home."

"Part of the Act," composed by Liam Wade to a libretto by John Grimmett, is also comic, dealing with a backstage battle of actresses in a New York vaudeville house in 1924.

And "Charon," by Scott Perkins (composer) and Nat Cassidy (librettist), offers "an allegorical tale of the ferryman of the River Styx and the cross-section of American characters he transports from the land of living to the world beyond."

The hour-long opera, to be unveiled in June 2013, is "The Tao of Muhammad Ali (A Ghost Story)" by composer and Baltimore School for the Arts alum D.J. Sparr and librettist Davis Miller. The story involves a reporter’s encounter with the boxing great.


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:02 PM | | 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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