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WNO: the season ahead

High on star power, low on contemporary opera: the Washington National Opera announces its 2010-11 season.

By Anne Midgette  |  January 12, 2010; 1:20 AM ET
Categories:  opera  
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What a sad day for the WNO. The (very part time) director did not even bother to attend the press conference. No mention of the next season on the WNO website - probably too ashamed.

Only 5 very tired and not so golden oldie productions next year - down from 8 and even 9 (introducing that year "Democracy", a new, American opera!).

Submitted by a 20 year plus subscriber.

Posted by: BethesdaFan | January 12, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe Domingo couldn't even be bothered to turn up for the season announcement. It's less than three hours from the Met on the Acela. Surely, a schedule could've been arranged to set the announcement around his conducting at the Met.

I like Racette and I like Iphigenie, but I just can't see the two together. Actually I really like Iphigenie when they gay it up a little between Pylades and Oreste, but I can't see that happening in this particular production.

On balance, the choice of works is better than expected but this is pretty faint praise.

Posted by: ianw2 | January 12, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Hi there, WNO's press rep here. To clarify a couple of facts in response to points made here:

1. There was no press conference to attend. WNO, as well as other arts organizations, has moved away from the press conference format to make season announcements. In my experience, the press don't appreciate these conferences and especially in this digital age, they're not an effective use of resources. Maestro Domingo couldn't very well attend a press conference that didn't exist.

2. A detailed email has gone out to all of our patrons. Our phones are already ringing with people who want to renew their subscriptions. When sending emails to large groups of people, there is often a lag time between sending and receiving, so if you haven't yet received your email, you should soon. (Anne, being a major critic, got a "sneak peak" and her story coincides with the announcement to the public).

3. The website is scheduled to go live at noon.

I will speak for my company to say that there's absolutely no shame about the 2010-11 season. We firmly believe that it's about quality of opera, not quantity. With artists like Licitra, Voigt, Martinez, Domingo, Racette, Morris, Terfel and Florez, we know we're bringing top artists and strong productions to Washington.

Posted by: OperaLove | January 12, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Bringing top artists and allegedly strong productions from Colorado, San Francisco, the New York City Opera, and Oviedo, Spain to Washington, D.C. and to the Kennedy Center Opera House is the mission for an “Opera Society of Washington,” but not for a “Washington National Opera” based in the Nation’s Capital of the richest country on the planet.

Placido Domingo and Kenneth R. Feinberg (and Michael Kaiser?) may have a “new business model,” which they say can only justify a five opera season (although one of those five operas is to run for 14 performances cancelling the space that would otherwise be available for the promised American classical opera), but they have utterly failed to align their “new business model” with what was promised earlier to Congress and to the American people when the company lobbied to have itself pretentiously renamed the “Washington National Opera”.

Sadly, just as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts didn’t think that it was kidding anyone when it awarded Kennedy Center Honors this past decade to Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey of The Who, Placido Domingo and Kenneth R. Feinberg are kidding no one if they still believe that they have “one of the handful of world-class opera companies.”


PS. Christina Scheppelmann, which American classical opera are you cancelling or postponing?

Posted by: snaketime1 | January 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Can Washington Opera please give more details on casting? For example, can it tell us on which dates Salvatore Licitra sings and in which Frank Porretta? Likewise for Madama Butterfly, etc.

Good to have the underrated Dorris Soffel back, and the Iphigenie will save me a trip to New York (it is rummored to be presented at the Met again with Susan Graham, Gordon Hawkins, and Domingo.)

The absence of an American work is certainly unfortunate, to say the least. I am sure at least a chamber opera with reduced cast and orchestra could have been included (or produce something like Gluck's Orfeo with only three singers and use the savings for a full American work.) Still, the season is better than what I was lead to expect.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | January 12, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"We have to protect ourselves with really popular work," says Domingo? Where was this attitude when he was squandering away the company's finances, just like he did in L.A.?

What a joke of a season. Licitra can't sing Old McDonald had a farm anymore, let alone Riccardo. Fourteen performances of Butterfly? Fourteen?! and Jim Morris is going to sing Don Paquale? his recent Wotans and Scarpias showed a vibrato so wide you could drive a truck through it. And of course, Domingo als bariton again in Iphegenie, with the WNO website listing Pylade as "TBA." Wait, you couldn't find a tenor, but you could find a Domingo for Orest? I mean, this is insulting. It's utterly astounding to think that the government contributes funds to a company with such poor management and such poor artistic insight.

Posted by: geddaisgod | January 12, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

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