Wolf Trap Features Alohas From Hawaii and B.B. King

By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 24, 2006

To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has a lineup that ranges from the Grammy-winning Sin Bandera to B.B. King's farewell tour to Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Blondie to the Wolf Trap Opera Company's "Le Comte Ory" to the National Symphony Orchestra with Renee Fleming.

"As America's only national park for the performing arts, we are uniquely committed to preserving our nation's artistic resources and serving as a repository for the riches of our collective and individual cultures," said Wolf Trap President Terrence D. Jones yesterday in a speech at the National Press Club. Joining him to talk about the importance of the arts and unveil the 2006 season was jazz vocalist Al Jarreau, holder of five Grammys in three different categories.

The upcoming season underscores the premise that going to Wolf Trap is meant to be fun. On the dance bill, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence and Philadanco, two modern African American companies, are presenting a world premiere that was commissioned by Wolf Trap. The dance series also includes the local debuts of Alonzo King's LINES Ballet and the Trey McIntyre Project.

The opera company has three new productions planned for the summer. In addition to Rossini's "Le Comte Ory," the company will stage the American premiere of Telemann's "Orpheus" and two nights of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." It will collaborate with the National Symphony Orchestra on Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette." The NSO, led by Emil de Cou, will do the music of Richard Rodgers, Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" and an evening of Mozart with Itzhak Perlman. The NSO's family fare will include a showing of "The Wizard of Oz" accompanied by music from the orchestra, and music from "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," with live narration by Leonard Nimoy. The NSO will also present "Play! A Video Game Symphony," by composer Nobuo Uematsu.

Los Lonely Boys, Raul Midon and the New Cars featuring Todd Rundgren, along with Blondie, play Wolf Trap for the first time this year. Elvis Costello & the Imposters and Allen Toussaint will showcase their new collaboration, and Trisha Yearwood returns after a four-year absence.

Hits from musical theater, now a staple at Wolf Trap, are part of the lineup: "Annie," "Chicago: the Musical," Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," "The Pirates of Penzance," as well as "Riverdance."

For the fifth year, Wolf Trap has joined the National Park Service in presenting a multimedia production at a national park. This year the location is Hawaii. In September, "Face of America: Hawaii" will premiere with Hawaiian recording artists performing onstage with a backdrop of island landscapes.

In the question-and-answer session, Jarreau was asked about his broad musical taste.

"I can't help it," said Jarreau, who returns in August with George Benson.

Jarreau said he is fond of polkas (he grew up in Milwaukee), Broadway musicals, orchestral music and jazz. He said he has lined up with the millions who love the television show "American Idol."

"They are encouraging singing," he said. "I don't mean to discourage hip-hop but that is not about singing."

Then someone asked him to demonstrate scat singing. He did a bit from "Groovin' High" and then laughed and stuck out his hand.

"That will be $2,000," he said.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company