Donizetti. Mozart. Humperdinck. Puccini. Bellini. And Kern.
The Washington National Opera’s 2012 – 2013 season will certainly give due reverence to the great composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But next year’s slate of productions will include a more recent piece, too.
The WNO’s Kennedy Center season will open on September 15th with a production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena (libretto by Felice Romani), which traces the unhappy final days of Henry VIII’s second wife. The production, which runs through October 6, will feature Sondra Radvanovsky as the ill-fated queen. Stephen Lawless directs.
Anna Bolena will run in tandem with Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the epic opera about an epic lothario and voluptuary who is not above a little murder to support his ceaseless seductions. Don Giovanni, in which Russian bass Idlar Abdrazakov will reprise his 2007 performance in the title role under the direction of WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin, will begin on September 20 and close on October 13. The libretto is by Lorenzo da Ponte.
The Washington National Opera’s holiday show will be a brief run of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, in which – well, you know what happens in this story. (Adelheid Wette wrote the libretto). The opera, which will feature David Gately directing the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists, will run from December 21 to the 23rd and will be in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre.
WNO kicks off 2013 in March with a production of Manon Lescaut, an early Puccini opera with a libretto by Domenico Oliva and Luigi Illica taken from the 1731 novel L’histoire du chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. It is a cautionary tale about a woman who abandons her true love in favor of an older man who bestows luxuries on her, and later returns to her heart’s roots. Patrice Racette plays Manon and Fabio Armiliato is Chevalier des Grieux in the Auguin-directed production, which runs from March 3rd to the 23rd.
At roughly the same time (March 9th to the 24th), WNO will also be producing Bellini’s Norma, which in Romani’s libretto tells the story of two Druid priestesses in a love triangle with a Roman conqueror. Angela Meade plays Norma and Dolora Zajick plays her arch-rival Adalgisa in this Anne Bogart-directed production.
The WNO season closes with a production of what is generally thought to be the first true modern American opera, Jerome Kerr’s Show Boat, with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. This opera – a revolutionary examination of racial bigotry – has been revamped by WNO Artistic Advisor Francesca Zambello and will be co-produced with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera Association, and the Houston Grand Opera. It will run from May 4th to the 26th.
WNO will salt this operatic stew with a pair of one-day concerts – on September 23 by baritone Nathan Gunn and on April 8 of next year by soprano Diana Damrau – and with a preview performance by Ms. Meade on November 10, 2012.
The annual Washington National Opera – Washington Nations mash-up, Opera in the Outfield, will continue on September 29 of this year, but further details were unavailable at press time. The Nationals will be visiting the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals on that date, and probably getting ready for a playoff run of their own.
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