“The budget will not be too impacted,” said Christina Scheppelmann, WNO’s director of artistic operations. “That was part of the brainstorming process, to come up with something that is important in extending what we offer on the main stage but without adding expenses to the point where you’re going to have to pull back and say, ‘Oops.’ ”
“Part of our objective is just to get more performance volume,” Zambello added.
In other words: Don’t look for the number of main-stage productions to go up from the current five per season. “Being fiscally conservative, I don’t believe in daydreaming,” Scheppelmann said. And don’t look for the main-stage fare to become much more adventurous, either. Although Zambello and Scheppelmann said they are committed to second and third performances of large-scale works that have been premiered elsewhere, Scheppelmann also said that “if you do new productions at the Terrace Theater, you’re going to have to balance that on the main stage.” The implication is that the large-scale fare might remain conservative, and the unusual offerings will move to the smaller theaters — which are newly available to WNO since its official merger with the Kennedy Center on July 1.
WNO also announced that it will stage a holiday-themed work every year. “For me, getting families and kids into the theater is a top priority,” Zambello said. In addition, Zambello will direct one production every season — though this is hardly an innovation, because Zambello has been something of a fixture at WNO for years, with 10 productions to her credit. Though the 2012-13 season won’t be announced until March, Zambello’s contribution to it is known: the co-production of “Show Boat” with the Chicago Lyric Opera, which opens in Chicago on Feb. 12.
Zambello and Scheppelmann speak with the authority of an artistic team, and it’s clear that Zambello is taking an active approach to her advisory role with WNO. But when Zambello was asked whether she planned to settle in the District, Scheppelmann stepped in to answer for her.
“Cesca is also the general director of Glimmerglass,” she said, referring to the summer festival in upstate New York that Zambello took over in the summer. “We wouldn’t want to overwhelm her with too much.”