Entries from THE DRESSING tagged with 'Washington National Opera'

Better Gods: Who Was Queen Lili'uokalani?

On January 8, 2016, the Washington National Opera in its American Opera Initiative program premiered the 60-minute opera Better Gods with music by Luna Pearl Woolf and libretto by Caitlin Vincent. While the Dresser liked the music and performances by the cast of Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists, she thought the libretto needed work and that Ethan McSweeney's stage direction was problematic. The story concerns how the United States annexed Hawaii, stealing governing rights from Queen Lili'uokalani (sung by the impressive mezzo-soprano Daryl Freedman) just as she announced that she would issue a new constitution returning voting rights to Hawaiian citizens. A...

WNO American Opera Initiative #4--A Deluge of New Chamber Operas

On December 2, 2015, the 7 P.M. house at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater was full for the fourth annual Washington National Opera American Opera Initiative. WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello in introducing the program of three new twenty-minute chamber operas said there is no other program in the United States quite like this one, which gets backing from a major opera company including seasoned mentors (2015 mentors are conductor John DeMain, composer Ricky Ian Gordon, and librettist Mark Campbell) and outstanding singers from WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. The Dresser finds this program and its popularity (given the Terrace...

From the Ruins of Appomattox, a Second Opera

The Dresser has been a fan of the operas by Philip Glass having seen Einstein on the Beach, Hydrogen Jukebox, Satyagraha, and chamber operas like The Photographer and 1000 Airplanes on the Roof. On November 14, 2015, she went to Washington National Opera's ponderous premiere production of the remake of Appomattox with music by Glass and libretto by the Portuguese British playwright Christopher Hampton. The production runs for six performances ending with a matinee November 22. The Dresser walked away from the three-and-half-hour opera with one 25-minute intermission wondering what audience who had not heard Glass and Hampton speak before...

When Talking Heads Are Sisters

The Dialogues of the Carmelites, with words and music by Francis Poulenc and based after a play by Georges Bernanos is a through-composed opera with accessible music that has occasional flourishes common to film music. On February 23, 2015, the Dresser saw Washington National Opera's company premiere production under the direction of WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and the baton of Antony Walker leading the WNO orchestra. The libretto rendered in clunky English (but approved by Poulenc as the official English translation) concerns Blanche de la Force (ably sung by Canadian soprano Layla Claire) a young aristocratic woman born in...

The Little Prince, A Family Affair

Suppose the little person in your life demanded three reasons why he or she should go with you to Washington, DC's Kennedy Center to see Washington National Opera's The Little Prince. You could say the star of the show is a little boy who comes from another planet to help an airplane pilot who crashes in the Sahara Desert (on December 19, 2014, the Dresser saw boy soprano Henry Wager perform fluidly in this demanding role), the red fox has her own trapdoors in the stage floor (Aleksandra Romano knew how to make the fox head worn on top of...

Balance and Dislocation: WNO Premiers Three Short Operas

On November 21, 2014, American Opera Initiative, Washington National Opera's, program to develop and produced new American operas, presented three twenty-minute operas employing the considerable talents of Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and other established young talent including Alexandra Christoforakis and Andrew McLaughlin. Advising the composer-librettist pairs were conductor Anne Manson, composer Jake Heggie, and librettist Mark Campbell. The Dresser's favorite and the best defined in the category of opera is "The Investment" by composer John Liberatore and librettist Niloufar Talebi. The musical opening of this opera features the rich voice of a cello quickly joined by bass, violin, flute, and percussion....

The Magic Flute Speaks English

On May 3, 2014, Washington National Opera premiered a highly colorful interpretation of Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute. Co-produced by San Francisco Opera Association, Opera Omaha, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Opera Carolina, Kelley Rourke's translation of Die Zauberflöte, Emanuel Schikaneder's original libretto in German, sparkles with contemporary references and current day idioms without going overboard. What's particularly interesting is Rourke has recently done two English translations of Die Zauberflöte. The other produced by Boston Lyric Opera premiered in 2013 and reframes Schikaneder's story using a Mayan setting and a contemporary and dreamscape timeframe. The WNO production directed by...

WNO Premiers Opera by Jeanine Tesori

On December 14, 2013, Washington National Opera premiered The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist J. D. McClatchy, WNO's first opera by a woman composer. This 90-minute family opera, commissioned by WNO's Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, is based on The Lion, The Unicorn and Me: The Donkey's Christmas Story by British novelist Jeanette Winterson. Zambello, who directed the production, also chose the book. Set in two acts, the first half of the show introduces the Me of the title, a boy angel with a set of golden wings that he seems to have trouble adjusting....

Birthing New Opera in the Nation's Capital

Where can you experience new American opera? With any regularity, the only place has been New York and most significantly New York City Opera's VOX Contemporary American Opera Lab. But maybe occurrence of this kind of risky programming (the producers of opera fear no one will show up and fill their seats) is changing. On November 19, 2012, Washington National Opera launched its American Opera Initiative, a public workshop for encouraging new American opera in small bytes. The program--a concert-style world premier--featured three 20-minute operas: Part of the Act by Liam Wade and John Grimmett, Charon by Scott Perkins and...

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