- Anna Bolena w/ SondRAD in her role debut
- Manon Lescaut w/ Pat Racette
- Norma w/ Angela Meade and Dolora Zajick
- Don Giovanni w/ Ildar Abdrazakov and Barbara Frittoli
- Showboat a la Zambello
The names are a decided improvement in casting glamour over the current season's modesty, but it's hard to read this lineup as anything other than WNO crawling even further back in its shell.
It wasn't always this way. They seem to have disabled the single page WNO performance history since the merger, but browse around this mess for a bit and you'll see a very different kind of WNO--one that produced a lot of chestnuts, sure, but also made room for at least one or two significantly off-the-beaten path works, especially American and post-1950 pieces, per season. Replacing this slot with (what is sure to be) a poorly put together musical, is all it takes to change the WNO from a company that pays the bills but still has something distinctive to say to one that just...you know.
I'll probably see everything except Showboat (a near-death-by-boredom experience during the tour of the Hal Prince version back in the day has turned me off of poorly-thought-out productions of that thing forever), and will be downright excited about Anna Bolena and Norma. But c'mon, WNO, throw us a bone.
I love Ms Zajick and her tremendous instrument enormously (the proper adverb, I believe, for the lady), BUT a sixty year old massively-voiced dramatic mezzo is thoroughly inappropriate casting for Adagisa. Yes, I know all about the long "tradition" of this sort of casting but Bellini wrote the role for a young, light lyric soprano as a foil for the more mature and dramatic Norma. Elena Obraztsova was thoroughly grotesque in the roe at the MET; bless Ms Zajick, but she is so far from "what the composer intended" that I wonder why audiences who insist that productions should follow the composers intentions exactly don't protest.
Um, since Meade could be her daughter by a very comfortable margin, perhaps they have some kind of daytime talk show-esque "a cougar stole my man" angle in mind?
Seriously tho...while we try not to look gift-Zajicks in the mouth in DC these days, the point is well-taken...
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