Washington National Opera's '07-08 Season to Include New Bohème and Don Giovanni, Domingo's First Handel, Alan Held's First Dutchman
By Matthew Westphal
A new Bohème by innovative director Mariusz Trelinski, the Washington premiere of Bolcom's A View From the Bridge, Ildar Abdrazakov doing double-duty as Leporello and Don Giovanni (with his brother by his side), Alan Held's first performances as Wagner's doomed Flying Dutchman, Plácido Domingo singing Handel's greatest tenor role — these are among the highlights of the 2007-08 season at Washington National Opera.
Domingo, who is the company's general director, announced the season in a press conference at the Library of Congress.
The season opens with on September 15 with Trelinski's staging of Puccini's La Bohème. The Warsaw-based film, theater and opera director has previously done acclaimed productions of Andrea Chénier (2004) and Madama Butterfly (2001, revived 2006) in Washington; his Bohème will be updated to the present day. Crossover tenor Vittorio Grigolo will get a chance to demonstrate his serious opera chops in the role of Rodolfo, alternating with Arturo Chacón-Cruz. Sopranos Adriana Damato and Sabina Cvilak, both in their company debuts, share the role of Mimì; Hyung Yun and Luca Salsi alternate as Marcello; 2005 Cardiff Singer of the World Nicole Cabell and soprano Alyson Cambridge will take turns as Musetta. Emmanuel Villaume, the music director for opera and orchestra at Spoleto Festival USA, will conduct the ten performances through October 2; the matinee performance on September 23 will be simulcast onto a large high-definition screen on the National Mall.
The company's other new production of the season arrives the following month: Mozart's Don Giovanni, directed and designed by John Pascoe and conducted by Domingo himself. Erwin Schrott, a 1998 winner of Domingo's Operalia competition who has been making quite a name for himself in Europe, will head the opening-night cast; his Leporello will be prominent Russian baritone Ildar Abdrazakov. In the second cast, Abdrazakov will take over the title role, while his big brother Askar sings Leporello. Erin Wall and Anja Kampe will play the wronged ladies, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira (respectively) in both casts, as will basses Trevor Scheunemann (Masetto) and Morris Robinson (the Commendatore). Tenors Shawn Mathey and John Tessier will alternate as Don Ottavio, while Marisol Montalvo and Amanda Squitieri share the role of Zerlina. There will be eight performances of the opera from October 25 through November 16.
Running in repertory with Don Giovanni will be A View From the Bridge, William Bolcom's operatic adaptation of the Arthur Miller traged and a work which has already enjoyed successful runs at Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera. Kim Josephson and Catherine Malfitano will return to their roles as the troubled Brooklyn longshoreman Eddie Carbone and his wife, Beatrice; tenor Gregory Turay will repeat his acclaimed performance as the starry-eyed immigrant Rodolpho. Soprano Christine Brandes takes the role of the Carbones' pretty and passionate young niece, Catherine, and Richard Bernstein sings Rodolpho's determined older brother, Marco. John DeMain, artistic director of California's Opera Pacific and Wisconsin's Madison Opera and Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the six performances November 3-17.
After a midwinter break, Washington National Opera will present Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer in eight performances from March 15 to April 10, featuring bass-baritone Alan Held singing the Dutchman for the first time anywhere. While casting of the other roles has not yet been finalized, company music director Heinz Fricke will conduct.
The Washington Post reports that Holländer replaces Wagner's Siegfried on the season schedule. The latter opera was set to be the third installment in the "American Ring" directed by Francesca Zambello for the company; the cycle was launched last season with Das Rheingold and continues this March with Die Walküre. "We will do Siegfried the following year," Domingo told the paper. "The United States is not like Europe, with all the state money available for opera. We will have our Ring, but it will just be delayed until the 2009-2010 season while we find all the funding we need."
Spring in Washington will bring a revival of Verdi's Rigoletto to the Kennedy Center. Baritone Carlos Álvarez will take the title role, with tenor Joseph Calleja as the Duke of Mantua; both sang their parts this past fall at the Metropolitan Opera. They will be joined by the gleaming young Russian coloratura Lyubov Petrova as Gilda. Giovanni Reggioli, who was on the podium for the company's opening production of this season (a double-bill of Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Gianni Schicchi), will conduct nine performances from March 29 through April 13.
Later in April and May will be the Washington National Opera premiere of Tamerlano, among the greatest of Handel's 40-odd Italian operas. Plácido Domingo will sing the pivotal role of the Ottoman emperor Bajazet, one of the greatest parts the composer ever wrote for tenor. It will be the 127th role of Domingo's long career (he will be 67 years old by then), and the first he has sung by any Baroque composer.
Dates have not been finalized for the performances, but most of the singers have, including star countertenor David Daniels as the eponymous Tatar conqueror, soprano Sarah Coburn as Bajazet's daughter Asteria, mezzo Patricia Bardon as the Greek prince Andronico (originally a castrato role, as was Tamerlano), and bass Andrew Foster-Williams as Leone.
The final staged production of the 2007-08 season in Washington will be Strauss's Elektra, opening May 10 and conducted by Fricke. Susan Bullock will star as the obsessed Greek princess, with Christine Goerke as her sister Chrysothemis, Daniel Sumegi as their avenging brother Orest, Irina Mishura as their mother Klytämnestra and Alan Woodrow as her lover, Aegisth.
The other final presentation of the season will be two semi-staged concert performances of Mascagni's verismo thriller Cavalleria rusticana. Singers confirmed so far include tenor Salvatore Licitra as Turiddu and powerhouse mezzo Dolora Zajick making her company debut as Santuzza (usually sung by a soprano).
More information on performances by Washington National Opera — this season and next is available at www.dc-opera.org.
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