Perhaps we can dare to hope that the days are truly behind us of opera being regarded as a stuffy, arcane, irrelevant art form that appeals only to a supercilious, minute and vanishing few. Contemporary operas like Kaija Saariaho’s Innocence, Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman, and Kevin Puts’s The Hours have excited audiences and critics not only with great music, but with new visions of what opera can be. Opera houses around the world continue to provide exciting, excellent productions of repertoire from the early seventeenth century up to world premieres of brand-new works. I hope my own resolution to cultivate my knowledge of opera and deepen my appreciation for it, which I’ve written about for Classical Score, is yet another example of how any encounter with opera can be thrilling, challenging and life-giving.

Here in Washington, a number of exciting events operatic are happening in the coming weeks.

	 René Barbera as the Italian Singer in Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier." Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera
René Barbera as the Italian Singer in Strauss's "Der Rosenkavalier." Photo: Ken Howard / Met Opera

Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier on Great Performances at the Met

This Metropolitan Opera production will be aired on Sunday, September 24 at 2pm on WETA PBS (check local listings for viewing beyond Washington). Conducted by Simone Young, the cast includes Lise Davidsen as the Marschallin, Samantha Hankey as Octavian, Erin Morley in the role of Sophie, and Günther Groissböck reprising his performance as Baron von Ochs (a role he carried in a 2017 Met production).

Der Rosenkavalier is the second collaboration between Richard Strauss and librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal; ultimately, they would create seven operas together before von Hofmannsthal’s death in 1929. The libretto, telling a story that takes place in Vienna in the 1740s, is based loosely on a novel by late-eighteenth-century French politician-author Louvet de Couvrai and a 1669 comedy by Molière. It was first performed in Dresden 1911 and, unlike the controversial Elektra two years earlier, was received with unreserved enthusiasm by the public.

Opera Italiana is in the Air

Conductor Alvise Casellati is bringing his outdoor Opera Italiana is in the Air tour to several venues in the United States this year. In between a performance this past June in New York and one in Miami this coming December, United Nations International Day of Peace will be celebrated with a free outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, September 21 at 5:30pm. Tenor Michael Fabiano and artists from the Washington National Opera will be featured in a program that includes music of Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Giacchino Rossini, Edvard Grieg, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the Washington premiere of All Around Earth by 11-year-old composer Isaac Thomas.

Opera Italiana is in the Air gave a concert this past summer in New York that featured Isaac Thomas’s All Around Earth.

Opera Italiana is in the Air describes itself as being “on a mission to transform the opera experience and make the beauty of opera accessible and enjoyable to everyone” by giving free performances in public spaces, featuring young musicians alongside more experienced ones “to ensure that classical music doesn't disappear from young people’s worlds,” and creating a relaxed, diverse and welcoming experience for music lovers.

opera in the outfield

Opera in the Outfield®: Puccini’s La bohème

The thirteenth season of Washington National Opera’s Opera in the Outfield® includes one of the most popular and beloved works in the repertoire, Giacomo Puccini’s lush and heartbreaking operatic portrait of young love in the face of death amidst the squalor and decadence of nineteenth-century Paris. The libretto for La bohème was written by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème (1851) by Henri Murger. Puccini’s opera was first performed in Turin in 1896, conducted by a young Arturo Toscanini.

This free event will be on Saturday, September 30 at 7pm at Nationals Park. The screening includes projected English titles. Be sure to stop by the WETA Classical table before the screening for a meet and greet with Nicole Lacroix!

Conducted by Alevtina Ioffe, this WNO production, filmed this past May, features Gabriella Reyes as Mimì, Jacqueline Echols as Musetta, Kang Wang as Rodolfo, Gihoon Kim in the role of Marcello, Blake Denson portraying Schaunard, and Peixin Chen as Colline.


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