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New Season at Washington National Opera

This is something that went unnoted here at Ionarts, but back on November 10, Plácido Domingo made an announcement (link is to a Word document) about what the Washington National Opera would be presenting in its 2005–2006 season, which opens on September 17, 2005. Next year is the company's golden anniversary season, and in honor of its 50th anniversary, the WNO had some exciting news in its lineup:

  • Verdi, I vespri siciliani, with soprano Maria Guleghina (Elena), tenor Franco Farina (Arrigo), baritone Lado Ataneli (Monforte), and Paolo Miccichè directing
  • Gershwin, Porgy and Bess, the first WNO production of this 20th-century classic, directed by Francesca Zambello
  • Wagner, Das Rheingold, the first installment of the WNO's first complete Ring cycle, also directed by Francesca Zambello
  • Donizetti, L'elisir d'amore
  • Mozart, La clemenza di Tito
  • Rossini, L'italiana in Algeri
I am happy to see those less-performed works on the program and to see at least one opera from the 20th century, the Gershwin (from 1935), which in spite of a number of its songs having become extraordinarily well known is still, I think, considerably less known as an opera with general audiences than it should be. However, I have to say that the company's 50th anniversary season was the perfect opportunity either to revive a much more recent work (like Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, which was originally commissioned for the Met's 100th anniversary season, after all) or, dare I say it, to make a big commission of a new opera. See my comments about the opera chosen to reopen La Fenice (The Phoenix, November 23) in Venice. It's no wonder that new opera composition has stagnated.

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