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WNO's entanglements

In Monday's Washington Post: Washington National Opera plans restricted by donor's limits, by Anne Midgette

By Anne Midgette  |  August 9, 2010; 9:11 AM ET
Categories:  Washington , news , opera  
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Domingo has ruined the WNO. As much as I like him personally, he has not only been incompetent, but was missing in action and did not do the job he was hired to do. The best thing to do would be to dissolve the WNO and start from scratch, without Domingo, Zambello, and any of the other mediocrities on the WNO roster. There are a number of gifted musicians and artists in the Washington area, including singers who can actually sing in one or more known languages, who would jump at the chance to work on opera at the Kennedy Center. We don't need a "world class" (whatever that means) "internationally renowned" opera, to impress Bayreuth or New York. Hosting eager, imaginative and enthusiastic local non-celebrities who just want to make beautiful music might do for us what Lotfi Mansouri did for the San Francisco opera, using the same idea: create a center focused on music instead of an organization where a few wealthy people can pretend they have acquired the trappings of culture by associating with the primadonnas.

Posted by: gauthier310 | August 9, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I second the comment of gauthier310. Lots of us remember the many great productions of Washington Opera, before Domingo. I recall "Coronation of Poppea "around 1981 that was artistically one of the best operas ever, with incredible singing. Likewise, all the Zack Brown productions were incredible eye-candy, with great fresh talent like Jerry Hadley (RIP). Gian Carlo Menotti also spoiled us at Washington Opera.If the hold-up to the Washington NATIONAL Opera's merger with the Kennedy Center is the little matter of the $30Million transfering from WNO to The Met, I am certain that two of the best business minds in the opera business, Gelb at the Met and Kaiser at KenCen will craft a way for The Met to graciously receive the gift, and then at a later time, the Met, in order to "support opera in America" will make a bequest of $15 Million or $20 Million to the Kennedy Center/New Washington Opera organization.Don't underestimate Betty Brown Casey. She will make sure that somehow we have an opera here in DC, and to do this, she may relax her previous restrictions.

I heartily agree that a real house cleaning is necessary at Washington Opera, starting with Domingo, and including the brown-nosing board that rubber-stamped Domingo's plans for oblivion for Washington Opera.

In Domingo's first year at WO, egotistically called "the Domingo Era !", he was a guest on WAMU's Diane Rehm show. I called in with my question saying, "I notice that there are few in the audience younger than myself ( I was then around 42). What will you be doing to develop audience, and to expand it , especially to younger music lovers, so that there will be opera when I am an old-timer?" A very annoyed Domingo answered something like, "If you see there's a problem, buy some young people tickets yourself", with no more elaboration, and I was cut off before I could tell him that I already do this each season. Domingo has no Idea of how to run the business of opera.
A company like Seattle Opera under Speight Jenkins runs one of the best education programs in the country, especially for developing new audiences, and in the schools for bringing in young people. I fly out there each year for their summer opera programs, and I am always impressed at the young, vibrant audience, and the incredible pre-show lectures, and post- performance Q & A with the audience led by Speight Jenkins. He is there shaking hands with all the audience for EVERY performance, and then does these post-performance talks that fill the very large lecture hall.

What a failure it is for Domingo that the tawdry Ring Cycle slapped together with Zambello is not being produced here. San Francisco, a co-producer, made up for the bad production with an outstanding cast, unlike what Washington suffered through. And then there is the problem of the waaaaaay beyond primetime Heinz Fricke and his anemic orchestra. He got bad reviews in Los Angeles for their Ring also. 2 flopped Rings in 1 season !!!!

Posted by: petronius88 | August 9, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"He got bad reviews in Los Angeles for their Ring....." referred to Domingo, not Fricke. It must be a new opera record that the same artistic director of two opera companies (Domingo) could be so persuasive to his boards to get his Rings (2 totally different productions), and then to have flopped at both. Talk about over-commitment and no one minding the stores.

Posted by: petronius88 | August 9, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

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