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Washington arts briefs

It’s still not fully official (and journalists have to wait til it’s official), but Diana Damrau is not going to be singing Hamlet at the Washington National Opera in May: Elizabeth Futral will step in as Ophelia to replace the soprano, who is (allegedly) pregnant. It must be something in the air: this opera, mounted this spring at the Met as a showcase for Natalie Dessay and in DC as a showcase for Damrau, ends up showcasing neither: Dessay cancelled in New York to be replaced by Marlis Petersen.

Other WNO news: Michelle Krisel, the long-time head of the Domingo-Cafritz program, is leaving at the end of the season to take over as general director of the Ash Lawn Opera.

The Washington Chorus’s music director, Julian Wachner, is in New York this weekend in a double-barrelled role with the New York City Opera’s VOX Contemporary Opera Lab, a workshop for ten (this year) new works in various stages of completion. Wachner will conduct the City Opera Orchestra in several of the works; he’s also there as a composer, since his own opera “Evangeline Revisited” will be performed on Saturday afternoon.

The Kennedy Center’s Michael Kaiser has a screed today in his Huffington Post column (not that Kaiser’s mild-mannered writing ever seems, on the face of it, very screed-like) about the poor training of arts administrators. It’s an intriguing point. I have no argument with the idea that a lot of non-profits are very poorly run, but I wouldn’t have thought of poor training as the first cause. I think one of the problems is that non-profit organizations are sometimes viewed as fragile hothouse flowers exempt from the rules of the business world. Often, the best arts administrators are people who have solid business training rather than special arts-administrator training. Like, for instance, Michael Kaiser. I also think boards appear to be doing increasingly more mischief; it seems to me there are ever more cases of boards thinking they actually run the organization, with unfortunate consequences. But that’s another story for another post.

By Anne Midgette  |  April 27, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  Washington , news , opera  
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While it is a shame that Diana Damrau will not be singing Ophelia here, we should count ourselves fortunate that we will see Elizabeth Futral in the role. Futral must certainly be one of the most versatile sopranos in the world today; I have seen her as Violetta in Washington, as Pamira in Siege of Corinth in Baltimore, and as Mabel in Pirates in Chicago. I have no doubt that she will acquit herself admirably.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | April 27, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

We all knew that Diana Damrau wasn’t going to be singing Hamlet with the Washington National Opera this spring. That isn’t news.

The great still young and very handsome Spanish baritone Carlos Álvarez is going to be singing Hamlet this spring with the WNO!! And we’ve got tickets to see him!!

Posted by: snaketime1 | April 27, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Liam Bonner, who is one of the two WNO Hamlets, made quite an impression a couple of years ago at Wolf Trap in Verdi's "King for a Day". Wonder who will sing the prima, Bonner or Michael Chioldi?

For those of who are anywhere near Chicago this weekend, Chicago Opera Theatre's "Jason" (AKA "Giasone") is a very witty, and well-sung, take on Cavalli's opera.

The Washington Opera, as it was then known, performed Cavalli's "L'Ormindo" in the late 1960s, and that's the last Cavalli piece I'd seen. A real joy to re-encounter this composer.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | April 27, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Alvarez, of course, cancelled Hamlet a long time ago: the two Hamlets are Liam Bonner and Michael Chioldi. Still no word, JerryFloyd, on which of them is singing when.

Posted by: Anne Midgette | April 27, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I was very much looking forward to my first live Superblonde experience. Am very curious to see what Futral makes of it.

Posted by: ianw2 | April 27, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr Floyd, I vaguely recall the Wolf Trap Opera Company following up strong concert performances of Blitzstein’s Regina and Szymanowski’s King Roger in 1982 (during the depths of the last near Great Recession and while the Filene stage was being rebuilt from an unfortunate fire), with a staged Barns performance of Cavalli’s La calisto the following year. They also produced Cavalli’s L'Ormindo in 1987 at the Barns, and Cavalli’s L'egisto in the much larger Filene Center in 1977.

Congratulations to the Wolf Trap Opera Company for their enterprising championing of three early Baroque operas of Cavalli – as well as for their championing of the work of Szymanowski and Blitzstein and many other American classical composers and librettists.

[In my book of mental rankings, while Cavalli is perhaps above Peri, he is a little distance – musically – below Monteverdi. I am grateful for having been able to hear, in the late twentieth century, several staged works by Peri, Monteverdi, and Cavalli … And I DO hope that Mr Domingo will sing Monteverdi’s The Return of Ulysses with a revived Washington National Opera – and in the same year as an American classical opera.]

Posted by: snaketime1 | April 28, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Cavalli's "Jason" would work very well at The Barns or another local smaller venue; good-sized cast and the Chicago production didn't appear to cost all that much.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | April 28, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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