Washington National Opera, Virginia Opera launch new seasons
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WASHINGTON, September 13, 2013 — The Washington National Opera (WNO) and the Virginia Opera both spring into action this month as their 2013-2014 seasons get underway.
WNO is first out the gate, opening its season at the Kennedy Center Opera House this coming Sunday afternoon with a matinee performance of Richard Wagner’s epic love story, “Tristan und Isolde.”
The company will continue its autumn stanza with performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s infrequently performance “La forza del destino” (“The Force of Destiny”), set to open at the Opera House on October 12. This opera’s opening night coincides almost to the day with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, generally assumed to have occurred on October 9 or 10, 1813.
Keeping with this year’s Verdi bicentennial, the Virginia Opera will launch its own new season on September 27 at Norfolk, Virginia’s Harrison Opera House with a performance of the Italian master’s late comic masterpiece, “Falstaff.” The production moves to Richmond’s Carpenter Center on October 4, and wraps up its run at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts in Fairfax City the weekend of October 11.
WNO: “Tristan und Isolde” and a major cast change
WNO’s new production of “Tristan”—presented here for five performances only—will feature British tenor Ian Storey in the title role for the first four performances. Tenor Clifton Forbis will sing the role in the final performance on September 27.
Soprano Deborah Voigt, originally scheduled to sing the role of Isolde, withdrew from the production earlier this month, apparently for artistic reasons.
In a prepared statement, she observed that “Returning to a role that I love but haven’t sung in a number of seasons, and encountering its unique challenges, has caused me to reconsider keeping it in my repertoire. I’m very disappointed that I feel compelled to withdraw from this production,” she continued, “but am very happy to continue my association with WNO both this season and into the future.”
WNO, in its own release, noted that Ms. Voigt will continue her affiliation with the company as the first Artist-in-Residence with the company’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.
Replacing Ms. Voigt as Isolde for the initial four performances of the opera will be soprano Iréne Theorin. British soprano Alwyn Mellor, who will sing Isolde during its final performance here on September 27, made her debuts as Brünnhilde earlier this year at both the Paris National Opera and the Seattle Opera.
Ms. Theorin is already well known to WNO audiences, having sung the epic role of Brünnhilde in the company’s new production of “Siegfried” (2009) and in WNO’s concert presentation of “Götterdämmerung” that same year. A noted Wagnerian, she’s also sung Brünnhilde at the Met and has sung the role of Isolde four times at the famous Bayreuth Festival.
Australian Neil Armfield will direct these performances of “Tristan,” which were provided by Opera Australia. WNO’s music director, Philippe Auguin will lead WNO’s orchestral and vocal forces.
This current Wagner production, along with others yet to be announced, are being programmed as a prelude to the company’s presentation of its long-delayed complete “American Ring Cycle,” which has now been rescheduled to occur in 2016 as part of WNO’s 2015-2016 season under the stage direction of artistic director Francesca Zambello.
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