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Classical Beat
Posted at 03:18 PM ET, 09/24/2012

Of opera and Americana

And the season is getting underway.

Thursday saw the Washington National Opera’s “Don Giovanni” — another evening that was OK but had room for improvement. Interestingly, one friend commented that she couldn’t remember the production at all from 2007, but liked it quite a lot this time, so the cast must have been better. I’d be curious to hear from others who heard it in 2007, and can compare. I know Tim Page didn’t like it very much — certainly not as much as I did in my review.
Andrew Foster-Williams as Leporello and Barbara Frittoli as Donna Elvira in Washington National Opera's "Don Giovanni." Was I too hard on this Leporello? I generally like this singer a lot. (Scott Suchman - Scott Suchman)

(I see that my review sparked some debate about whether or not Mozart opera is an acquired taste. I wouldn’t make this claim of Mozart’s orchestral music, but I do think the operas have a lot of conventions that it can take a while to embrace. I certainly, as a young opera-lover, took a while to “get” Mozart, and as I mentioned in the comments on the review, the soprano Christine Schaefer (a fine Mozart singer) talked to me in an interview once about how Mozart had been an acquired taste for her, and how she’d met others who had the same experience. Perhaps she and I and her acquaintances are total anomalies. Did you “get” the Mozart operas when you first heard them?)

Saturday night marked the opening of the Fairfax Symphony’s 56th season — which included a salute to a violist who has retired after 48 of those seasons. Christopher Zimmerman led a delightful all-American program, though alas, the rest of the season seems a bit more mainstream. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, meanwhile, is getting its own season underway with two consecutive all-American programs in a similar vein, the first of which came to Strathmore on Saturday; Charles T. Downey reviewed.

Above: Christine Schaefer once told me that Mozart had been an acquired taste for her. She certainly acquired it (though this staging will not be to everyone’s taste).

And, for something completely different, or maybe not really so different: last week I reviewed a two-part show by the visual artist Dan Steinhilber at the Kreeger — a show which, I pointed out, is not so very different in concept from some of John Cage’s works.

By  |  03:18 PM ET, 09/24/2012

Tags:  WNO, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Fairfax Symphony

 
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