The Kennedy Center

Maximum India Festival March 1-20 New York City Ballet Three mixed Repertoire Programs: April 5, 8 and 10; April 6 and 9 and April 7 and 9. April 5 – 10 Paul Taylor Dance Company March 22-24 Peter Brook’s “Fragments” April 14 – 17 The acclaimed genius focuses on five short works by edgy, bare-bones genius playwright Samuel Beckett (“Rough for Theater 1,” “Rockabye,” “Act Without Words II,” “Neither” and “Come and Go”) at the Eisenhower. Barbara Cook’s Spotlight Vocal Series March 25 Actress and singer Ashley Brown (the original “Mary Poppins”) at the Terrace Theater. The National Symphony Orchestra presents “The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony,” based on a book by E.B. White, with music by conductor Jason Robert Brown. March 27 Starring John Lithgow, trumpeter Christopher Vendetti and DC actors like Craig Wallace, Michael Willis and Naomi Jacobsen. Two concerts. Stephen Sondheim’s “Follies” May 7 – June 19

Foto Week DC

Foto Week DC as held at various galleries throughout Washington DC November 6-13. [gallery ids="99562,104634,104636" nav="thumbs"]

Washington National Opera

Change — big and transforming — seems to be a part of just about any human endeavor these days. Major change is coming to the Washington National Opera. Placido Domingo, the world-renowned tenor, who has been general director of the company since 1996, helping to launch it to another level of respect, stature and accomplishment, will be leaving his post as of June, 2011. If you read the public announcements from both Domingo and the WNO board, the change was mutually arrived at, and apparently under consideration in recent times. The statements sound a lot like those surrounding the news of the breakup of a much-beloved couple who have come to a convivial agreement to go their separate ways. Herewith: “We appreciate all that Placido Domingo has done for our great company. He will be missed, but all good things come to an end,” WNO President Kenneth R. Feinberg said. “Placido’s association with WNO was essential to the company’s artistic development and helped it to gain recognition nationally and internationally. We are looking forward to him being with us in Washington this spring to sing in ‘Iphigenie in Tauride’ and to conduct performances of ‘Madame Butterfly’ and ‘Don Pasquale.’ While today’s news may mark the end of the formal marriage, we are looking forward to artistic collaborations in the future.” Domingo brought the white heat of star power to the company, by way of talent, reputation and international appeal, giving it something it probably did not have before — glamour. In addition, he brought innovative programs to the company including free simulcasts of season-opening operas, the WNO’s Center for Education and Training, international tours, and, essential for the future, the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program Domingo at 69 remains a busy director and performer, and is still the General Director of the Los Angeles Opera. Under Domingo, who took over after Martin Feinstein, the company experienced international growth and saw the arrival of star conductors, directors and performers, including Jose Carreras, Renee Fleming and Franco Zefferelli. The company also embraced newer American works like the recently acclaimed “A View from the Bridge.” But there were also problems and some critical grousing as a result of difficulties in the current economic climate. It will be interesting to see which direction the WNO will be headed with the departure of Domingo, a decidedly marquee big name brand. The possibility that the company might merge with the Kennedy Center, where it pays rent for its use of the Opera House, has already been bandied about.

The Music Center at Strathmore

Among many offerings, there are: Hilary Hahn performs this Sunday at 4 p.m. February 27 Itzhak Perlman comes to town with Rohan de Silva on piano. May 1 Bryan Adams and his “Bare Bones Tour” March 11 Comic writer David Sedaris March 31 Jazz songstress Nancy Wilson April 22

The Shakespeare Theater

Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband” March 8 – April 10 Oscar Wilde will get the full treatment by the Shakespeare Theater Company under the veteran and able direction of Keith Baxter. The threat of scandal, an obsession during Victorian times, buzzes over an upstanding and rising aristocratic type in this Wilde gambol through British social mores. “Old Times” May 17 – July 3

The Studio Theater

“New Ireland: The Enda Walsh Festival” March 15 – April 25 Featuring the works of acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh, the festival brings back the Druid Theater Company with its production of Walsh’s “Penelope.” The festival is new artistic director David Muse’s effort to broaden Studio’s international reach and includes productions by the Studio Theater of Walsh’s “The Walworth Farce” and “The New Electric Ballroom.” Walsh herself will be on hand, along with Tony-winning director Garry Hynes. There are readings, plays, films and a daylong symposium on New Irish arts. “Venus in Fur” Opening May 25

WNO Welcomes Francesca Zambello, Artistic Advisor

The momentous recent times of change at the Washington National Opera just saw another one or two big changes about to materialize. First Mark Weinstein, the Executive Director of the WNO, left during the 2009-2010 season. Then Placido Domingo, the bread-and-butter star power of the WNO, announced his resignation, effective at the end of this season (but not, it should be added, without delivering an assured star turn in the spring production of “Iphigenie en Tauride”). Then the WNO announced that the company would become an affiliate of the Kennedy Center, where it has performed almost always at the Opera House, barring periods of renovation. Now the WNO announced that the dynamic and gifted opera and theater director Francesca Zambello would become its Artistic Advisor. That’s a few steps short of actually being the Artistic Director. For now she will be working with others, including the KC President Michael Kaiser, as well as WNO officials, including Michael L. Mael who was appointed Executive Director in May. He was previously the WNO’s Chief Operating Officer. That might mean that there will be a bit of the old breath of fresh air and more contemporary and cutting edge works on the horizon with Zambello placed in a critical role. Zambello, a very busy woman these days already, has always had eclectic and diverse ambitions and tastes—and she’s not shy about trying new things. These days, she is currently the Artistic and General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival, and she holds an Artistic Advisor role at the San Francisco Opera, where she is directing the “Ring Cycle” next month. Doubtless, Wagner and the cycle may get a new life in the future, after plans had to be abandoned at the WNO in recent years. Zambello, by her track record, is always seeking new challenges, and in fact provided some of the more contemporary work seen at the WNO, where she’s been a familiar figure ever since she directed “Of Mice and Men” in 2001. She’s tackled Wagner before here with “Das Reingold,” “Die Walkure” and “Siegfried,” as well as material as different as “Porgy and Bess,” “Billy Budd,” “Fidelio” and last year’s scintillating “Salome.” Zambello has staged plays on Broadway, including the musical “The Littlest Mermaid,” and directed in venues as varied as the Sydney Festival, the Bregenz Festival, Disneyland, Berlin’s Theater des Westens, and Vienna’s Raimund Theater. She has also staged opera and theater productions at the Met, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Covent Garden, the Munich Staatsoper, the Paris Opera, the New York City Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the English National Opera. By the awards she’s received, you can get a pretty good picture of her eclecticism: she’s been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government as well as the Russian Federation’s Medal for Service to Culture. She has received three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, the Helpmann Award and the Palme d’Or in Germany. She was quoted in the Washington Post as saying that her role at the WNO would include: “Addressing how to make opera more a part of the city at large.” Welcome, Zambello.

Arena Stage

“The Edward Albee Festival” March 5 – April 24 With lots of events, plays, talks and side activities, and it’s all about Albee. Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” February 25 – April 10 Perhaps the main event of the Albee Festival, the Steppenwolf Theater Company’s production of the acerbic drama stars Tracy Letts and May Morton as George and Martha. Edward Albee’s “At Home at the Zoo” February 25 – April 24 “The Chosen” March 8 – 27

Russell Allen Feted

Members of the Women’s Committee of the Washington Ballet partied at Maziar Farvar’s Peacock Café in Georgetown to celebrate outgoing Executive Director Russell Allen and his successful years at the Ballet. The party on May 24 was organized by Sally Francis and former TWC President Beth Kohlhoss. The ladies enthusiastically toasted Russell and presented him with an engraved silver card case from Tiffany. Despite scarcer funding for the arts, Russell leaves the Ballet with stronger earned revenue. Guests were delighted to hear that he plans to remain in this area. [gallery ids="99858,99859,99860,99861,99862,99863" nav="thumbs"]

Rigoletto Presented at the Italian Embassy

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata and his staff made the embassy available for a presentation of Rigoletto on May 21 featuring The Opera Camerata of Washington Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Gregory Buchalter and directed by Roger Riggle. José Sacia, Elisabeth Turchi and Jesus Hernandez took leading roles. In his enthusiastic remarks, Executive Director Michael J. Reilly acknowledged diplomatic dignitaries and said “opera is cool, modern, stimulating. You will leave humming and tapping your feet with wonderful young singers.” The cast sang Happy Birthday to Countess Gertrude d’Amecourt and Princess Selene Obolensky, who beamed in the front row. [gallery ids="99849,99850,99851,99852,99853,99854,99855,99856,99857" nav="thumbs"]