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From Russia with love

Casting has just been announced for one of the highlights of the spring season, the Mariinsky Theater's nine-day residency at the Kennedy Center (February 27-March 7) with concert performances of "Eugene Onegin" (Alexey Markov) and "Boris Godunov" (Evgeny Nikitin), a staged production of Prokofiev's "War and Peace," and other opera excerpts in concert, conducted by Valery Gergiev. (The event is a centerpiece -- even, one might venture, a raison d'etre -- of the KenCen's ongoing Focus on Russia.)

The hardest ticket will probably be March 4, when Anna Netrebko appears in scenes from Tchaikovsky's "Iolanta," which she sang last year in Baden-Baden and St. Petersburg to some of the warmest critical acclaim she's had in a couple of years.

By Anne Midgette  |  January 20, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Washington , opera  
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Canadian Opera Company have just announced what looks like it could be North America's strongest season. THREE 20th century operas! THREE! Admittedly, one of those is Ariadne, but still!

San Francisco meanwhile are doing a Greatest Hits... boring. Except for Cyrano, which is hardly going to set the world on fire.

Posted by: ianw2 | January 20, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse


“THREE 20th century operas!”

-- ianw2

Umm … the San Francisco Opera is also doing THREE 20th century operas!

Didn’t you notice?

They are doing both a Full House and a Four of a Kind – for a total of ten operas –
twice as many as the Washington National Opera.

(I love it when readers refer to Janacek operas as ‘Greatest Hits … boring’ …
cf. Karita Mattila as Emilia Marty.)

twelve Madama Butterflys, oh my. Now where would they get that idea?

Posted by: snaketime1 | January 20, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

COC is a great, enterprising company with a young, intelligent artistic administration and a gorgeous newish house. They are starting to get more and more big stars and they deserve credit for showcasing a lot of Canadians.

As for the Mariinsky visit... Comrade Nikitin is terribly overparted as Boris, that will be a disaster. Markov is fine. Netrebko as Iolanta was outstanding in Baden-Baden, she will be great.

Posted by: geddaisgod | January 20, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I blush and my apologies snaketime1- I somehow missed Mak. Case. Which I love. Oh and Cyrano was 1936. Well there you go.

Full House? Is this some kind of Stamos related joke?

But I suppose they also get some points for actually completing their Ring. Meow, meow.

Posted by: ianw2 | January 20, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

No apology required.

No, I’ve decided to devote my life to poker and gambling, and not music and opera.

What else can a grown man or woman do when Prokofiev’s great 20th c. opera “War and Peace” is staged at the Kennedy Center Opera House for the first time ever by a world-class visiting opera company under a great world-class conductor (I’ve seen the work in S.F. and Seattle), and all the chief Washington Post music critic can rave about is Anna Netrebko and the Baden-Baden casino-hall Opera House?

Name the greatest 20th c. opera(s)?

Posted by: snaketime1 | January 20, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the great information Anne! I was not aware of the Netrebko casting so I promptly bought two tickets. Looks like there were still over 1,500 seats available based on the information given when I bought the tickets. It will be interesting to see if Netrebko has the star power to fill the opera house. I hope so! I saw her live in Hoffmann at the Met and it really is a special treat to see and hear her live.
As for snaketime1's comment on Netrebko, all I can say is that she is probably the best and most liked opera singer today and her appearance is an event where the critic's "rave" is justified!

Posted by: Mike-Klein | January 20, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

More light!

I erred and I apologize.

The Bolshoi Opera (and Ballet) brought Boris Godunov, Eugene Onegin,
Pique Dame, Prokofiev’s War and Peace and
The Gambler, Spartacus, and Ivan the Terrible to the John F. Kennedy Center Opera House in 1974-75.

In 1976-77, the Teatro All Scala [sic] brought Verdi's Macbeth,
La Bohème, La Cenerentola, and
Simon Boccanegra to the John F. Kennedy Center Opera House.

In 1976-77, for dessert the Paris Opera brought Verdi's Otello, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and Gounod's Faust to the John F. Kennedy Center Opera House.

But no one brought Madama Butterfly.

Ah … I spot an error on the web.

The Kennedy Center site lists the Vienna State Opera performing Le nozze de Figaro and Ariadne auf Naxos in the John F. Kennedy Center Opera House in 1979-80.

But I firmly recall our seeing Fidelio (under Karl Bohm) and Salome (under Zubin Mehta) during that run by the European national opera company at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House in the spring of 1979 (and not 1979-80).

And we were tremendously moved by Anna Netrebko in the new film version of La Boheme – viewed by millions of all ages.

Posted by: snaketime1 | January 21, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to snaketime for the stroll down memory lane. I recall vividly La Scala's visit to Washington in September 1976. There were four performances of Cenerentola; three were by a house soprano whose name escapes me, but one was by Frederica von Stade. Thirty-three years have not dimmed the memory of young Flicka's performance, one of the greatest I have seen anywhere in any opera. I see now that she has announced her retirement from singing....where do the years go?

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | January 21, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I see from Anne’s link that the upcoming Russian Mariinsky Opera Theater stage production of Prokofiev’s great “War and Peace” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House, under Valery Gergiev, is a 2000 co-production with the Metropolitan Opera company of New York City. I hear that’s a pretty good company; if not as good as Placido Domingo’s Washington National Opera, which I hear focuses more on quality and not quantity.

And thanks to 74umgrad, I only now discover that someone has erased from the Kennedy Center records the numerous visits that the Metropolitan Opera made to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House in the 1980s.

Bolshoi, La Scala, National Opera of Paris, Vienna State Opera, German (State) Opera Berlin … are all in the Kennedy Center records, but not the Metropolitan Opera.

Of all of the great Western operas that the Metropolitan Opera brought to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House – under James Levine and others - I can only find an official Kennedy Center record [“Recognizing and Presenting the Greatest Performers and Performances”] for L'elisir d'amore being performed in 1979-80.

For opera in the 1980s, I see “An Evening in Concert with Placido Domingo” [1982-83] and La Gran Scena Opera Company [1988-89], but not James Levine leading the Metropolitan Opera in … let’s see … Marriage of Figaro, Don Carlos, Otello, Boris Godunov, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Peter Grimes (one of the last stage performances by someone named Jon Vickers, who I also heard sing Grimes in SF in September 1976), Billy Budd … Oh, help me memory!

I guess the great American people will have to pull up their sleeves and search their overstuffed closets and attics for the records of the Metropolitan Opera visits to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Opera House in the 1980s that the Kennedy Center has misplaced.

“History is nothing but assisted and recorded memory. … Memory itself is an internal rumour.”

Posted by: snaketime1 | January 21, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

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