Wolf Trap Farm Park's summer performing arts season opens tonight, more than two months after a disastrous fire burned the Filene Center to the ground and subsequently stirred massive fund-raising efforts to rebuild.
The progressive jazz group Weather Report will appear tonight, kicking off a six-day jazz festival. They will be performing in the new Meadow Center, an enormous tent structure flown in from the United Arab Emirates at the expense of the Saudi government airline. The structure will serve as the temporary Wolf Trap summer theater.
In the wake of the April 4 fire, there have been fund-raising appeals which have netted more than $1 million, a task force on Wolf Trap set up by President Reagan and a commitment from the administration of $10 million (half of what Wolf Trap--maintained by the Park Service but run by a private board--will probably need to rebuild). In marked contrast to all the attention, there will be no special appearances or comments at tonight's performance noting the return of Wolf Trap from the ashes. "We've been doing benefit concerts and thank-you concerts," said Larisa Wanserski, Wolf Trap public relations official. " Today starts what we're all about--putting on good shows."
A Wolf Trap crew twice the size of the one that usually prepares the park for the season opening has been working " 'round the clock for the whole last week," said Wanserski.
"The tent structure was up as of the first of June," said Ann McKee, director of productions. "But we were putting up the stage. Curtains, lights, sound, dressing rooms all had to be put in." In the last few days, the installment of power lines has been completed and the final water hookup to dressing rooms was done yesterday afternoon. "It's been sort of controlled chaos," said McKee. Local 22 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees helped put up the tent structure on a volunteer basis.
Wolf Trap officials say they are pleased with the results. "The stage lights against the fabric of the tent give a certain glow to it," said Wanserski. "And we're very happy with the sound. It gives a warm sound."
Wanserski said those seeking lawn seats will find the grade of the meadow good. For those sitting inside or out, she said, "We're still advising people to wear comfortable footwear. They'll have to walk a little farther than they used to walk."
Catherine Filene Shouse, donor and founder of Wolf Trap, will not be present at the opening performance. She is recuperating from hip surgery at Plantation House, her Virginia home.