Editors' pick

Wolf Trap - The Barns

Wolf Trap - The Barns photo
(Stephanie K. Kuykendal/FTWP)

Wolf Trap Opera Company

Joined by pianist Kim Pensinger Witman, WTO artists perform "Aria Jukebox," a program featuring popular opera highlights suggested by audience members.
6/12 - 6/20

Wolf Trap Opera Company

Set in 19th-century Spain, this new production of Mozart's comic opera, "The Marriage of Figaro," stars Thomas Richards in the titular role.
7/10 - 7/18

Wolf Trap Opera Company

Led by conductor Eric Melear and directed by Louis Muller, the opera company performs composer John Corigliano's only opera, "The Ghosts of Versailles."
8/1 - 8/2

The Rodgers Family: A Century of Musicals

Steven Blier and several Wolf Trap Opera soloists present a program featuring Richard Rodgers' "Oklahoma," his daughter Mary Rodgers' "Once Upon A Mattress," his grandson Adam Guettel's "A Light in the Piazza" and more.

Editorial Review

Wolf Trap is America's National Park for the Performing Arts, formally established in 1971 from land donated to the U.S. Park Service, in what was long ago wolf country in rural Virginia, 35 miles from the District. The Park Service created one of the nation's great outdoor performance venues, the Filene Center, an open-air summer stage and pavilion with reserved seating for 3,766 built into a natural slope. Another 3,100 can sit farther up the hill on the lawn, where blanket space is generally easy to buy on the day of the performance. Although the management is strict about not letting patrons smoke on the lawn or in seats, it allows coolers of beer and wine as well as picnic baskets full of food. Trees surround the outdoor amphitheater and the sound is surprisingly clear and true. The top names in music and dance play Wolf Trap; in 1997, the National Symphony Orchestra, B.B. King, Bob Dylan and the Irish dancers of "Riverdance" were on the bill.

In the winter, concerts are moved to an 18th-century barn with wooden walls and floors that offers the same casual performance atmosphere as the outdoor amphitheater. With only 352 seats, it's easy to get a good view of the performers on stage.

For summer events at the Filene Center, Wolf Trap provides a shuttle bus from the Falls Church Metro for $3.50, but if you prefer to drive, it's easily accessed via the Dulles Toll Road. During rush hour, the drive can be difficult, but the rolling lawn, your picnic dinner and the show will soon make you forget the road.

-- Shayla Thiel