Everything Else: The Rest of the Washington National Opera Season

Last month we took a look at Washington National Opera’s first-ever production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. While such a momentous undertaking does take up a large amount of the company’s time and money, it is not the only thing on the docket for the season. Here’s a look at the other shows upcoming over the next several months.

First up is Bizet’s Carmen, September 19-October 3. It is a safe bet for the company, though, with famous showstoppers such as the Habanera, “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle, and the Toreador song, “Votre toast!,” both of which have made their way into popular culture with their instantly recognizable tunes.

The next show up is Appomattox, November 14-22. As an opera by Philip Glass, this show fits into the style of minimalism popularized in the 20th century. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Glass is known for writing music that is highly cyclical, repeating themes hundreds of times with slight modification time after time. That said, this is the premiere of a revised version of the show, and touches on highly poignant topics in our country today. For the company, it’s a bold move in a season with only one standard (Carmen) and a big set of one kind of music (Ring Cycle).

The final main show in the season is Lost in the Stars, February 12-20. While it comes last (before the Ring), it should prove to be an excellent entrée for those less certain about the genre. Lost in the Stars is a musical tragedy by German-American composer Kurt Weill based on Alan Paton's classic 1948 novel Cry, the Beloved Country. Kurt Weill’s trademark as a composer is to merge his classical background and love of the opera out of German houses with the Broadway, gospel, African spirituals, jazz, and blues he found in America. In the lead role will be Eric Owens, a serious opera singer who last starred in WNO’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman last season. Whether you call it an opera, and operetta, or a musical, it’s a brilliantly conceived show with top-notch voices and music.

Between Appomattox and Lost in the Stars there are a few other opportunities out there. Washington National Opera has an annual program called the American Opera Initiative. This program takes aim at two major deficiencies in the opera canon today: the lack of modern opera and the lack of American opera. While the shows the Initiative produces are short, sometimes paired together in groups of three shows, they offer an insight into the cutting edge and what might be the next big thing. Going might be more of a gamble than Carmen or even the Ring Cycle, but it could also be exciting!

That’s a look at the rest of Washington National Opera’s season. I hope to see you there!

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