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Castleton: Shakespeare and Bohemia

See my review of two performances from the Castleton Festival at

Helen Mirren, Jeremy Irons Make Appearances at Castleton Festival (Washingtonian, June 30):

Other Reviews:

Robert Battey, Music Inspired by Shakespeare (Washington Post, July 1)

Martin Morrow, A Midsummer Night’s Dream at BlackCreek: crowd-pleaser minus the crowd (Toronto Globe and Mail, July 1)

Tim Smith, A captivating night with Shakespeare, Mirren, Irons, Maazel (Baltimore Sun, July 1)

---, Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival opens with an effective 'La Boheme' (Baltimore Sun, June 28)

Anne Midgette, Castleton Festival opens with ‘La Boheme’ (Washington Post, June 26)
Top pick in my summer classical music round-up went to the Castleton Festival, the month of opera and concerts organized by conductor Lorin Maazel at his summer house in Rappahannock County. The event continues to grow in scope, as Maazel expands the facilities on his property and bring more performers into the program, which is an apprenticeship for young musicians. This year, the Castleton Festival Orchestra was composed of young members of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bilken University Orchestra (from Ankara, Turkey), London’s Royal College of Music Orchestra, and American conservatory programs. In a remarkable gesture of confidence in their abilities, Maazel took them on a mini-tour this year, to give gala concerts at the Blackcreek Summer Music Festival in Toronto and at the Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda, heard last Thursday night.

The program was a challenging one, too, bringing together music inspired by two of Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two Hollywood stars, Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons, were the obvious draw for the nearly sold-out crowd, but they appeared only on the second half, entering the hall to a warm ovation. On the model of previous Shakespeare-themed concerts by the Folger Consort -- The Fairy Queen in 2007 and The Tempest in 2010 -- the actors read texts from the play, interlaced with music inspired by it. The excerpts were woven together with a fairly prosaic narration by poet J. D. McClatchy, and both Mirren and Irons slipped between it and speeches by Shakespeare’s characters. Mirren was a regal Titania, but it was Irons who had the most fun, as a spiteful Oberon, playful Puck, and deep-voiced Bottom, complete with hilarious gestures and expressions. [Continue reading]

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