2012 Short List

We’ve finished 12 of the 20 days on our audition tour (with still many miles and 4 cities to go…), and it’s time for the first iteration of the Short List. Much can and will change between now and November 15, but here’s what we’re brainstorming so far for next season. Exact outcome dependent on what we hear in the next 200 auditions :)

Alphabetical by composer, so as to show no misleading favoritism:

Le Philtre (Auber): A different and charming take on the Elixir of Love story. Actually preceded Donizetti’s opera, whose libretto was modeled on this original one by Scribe. Vocal casting really similar to the Donizetti, mezzo role a bit larger than Giannetta. Downside? Only 5 roles.

The Rape of Lucretia (Britten): Hasn’t been at The Barns in 24 years. Too long to be away. Nice vocal distribution, with 6 nicely featured roles. Chamber orchestra fits comfortably in our small pit. Downside? No ensemble to showcase our Studio Artists.

Il matrimonio segreto (Cimarosa): Hasn’t been at The Barns in 16 years. 6 featured roles. Downside: I never really got this opera, but then again, it’s not about me:)

L’Opera Seria (Gassmann): A recent find. (Thanks, John!) I’m currently smitten by this satirical take on the opera seria tradition, written by Leopold Gassmann, a Viennese composer a generation older than Mozart. Downside? Having trouble finding the orchestral materials. Publisher inquiries resulting in dead ends.

L’île de Merlin (Gluck): Done at Spoleto USA a few years ago. One of the few Gluck operas whose orchestration will fit in our pit. 7 featured roles. Downside: Nothing for Studio. And French dialogue. (Since we spent a lot of time on French dialogue for last season’s Hoffmann, it would be great to offer returning artists a different language experience.)

La vera constanza (Haydn): Would love to do a Haydn opera. This one captures my imagination musically. Beautiful stuff.  We’ve heard some people already who would fit these roles well. Downside: The story is kind of convoluted. (Well, no more so that most of its time and genre) and there’s no chorus.

Il mondo della luna (Haydn): Ditto re the Haydn. 7 solid roles, nice variety among the types. Small male ensemble, good for our Studio guys. Fun story. Downside? Opera Lafayette presented this beautifully with François Loup a few years ago at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and I’m not sure if it’s time to bring it back to the DC area yet.

The Fortunes of King Croesus (Keiser): Minnesota Opera did this in 2008, with excellent results. Nice baroque instrumentation and amazing array of voice types (3 sopranos, 1 mezzo, 1 countertenor, 3 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 basses) Downside? Daunting array of voice types…

The Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart): Absent from The Barns since 1998. Amazing piece. 5 fabulous roles. Great chorus. Downside? Very specific casting (Osmin, Konstanze), speaking role, no mezzo or baritone…

Don Giovanni (Mozart): Don’t typically do standard stuff at The Barns, but this might be irresistible in a year like this. 7 amazing roles. We’ll see.

The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart): See above.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Nicolai): I happen to love this piece. Finding some good people for these roles. Great ensemble. Downside? Would have to be done in reduced orchestration, and I don’t know if I want to go there two years in a row.

Giulio Cesare (Handel): Needs to come back to The Barns. Amazing roles. Breathtaking music. Downside? Too many mezzos, not enough anything else… (Pick almost any Handel opera and the same will apply; tough for an ensemble company.)

Il Re Teodoro in Venezia (Paisiello): King Ted is an annual audition tour companion. I don’t think he’ll ever make the big time, but I’d miss him if he weren’t along.

La pietra del paragone (Rossini): Love this story and this music. Audience loves Rossini. Downside? Finding enough folks who are ready to tackle these virtuosic roles. Oh, and the piece is really bottom-heavy – lots of guys. (So maybe it’s a companion piece to Cesare with all of those girls, right?)

Il trionfo dell’onore (Scarlatti): Scarlatti’s only comic opera. 8 roles. Great potential. Downside: Can’t find the score… Kind of a dealbreaker.

The Rake’s Progress (Stravinsky): A perfect fit for us – both for the venue and our artists. Great roles. Downside? Roles are terrific, but there are only 5. And there’s no baritone.

One Acts
We’re playing around with possible double bills (and even a crazy triple bill) of various combinations: Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), Docteur Miracle (Bizet), Une education manquée (Chabrier), Angelique (Ibert), Le pauvre matelot (Milhaud), Amor rende sagace (Cimarosa), L’inganno felice and La scala di seta (Rossini), Don Quichotte auf der Hochzeit des Comacho (Telemann)

OK – got all of that straight?  I’m sure there’s something missing. And it’ll probably end up being something we end up choosing but just don’t know it yet.

Wish us luck :)


grace jones

haydn, handel, milhaud, britten, Rake – getting excited for the summer.


FWIW (since you have a week’s break to think about this):

You may not do standard stuff at the Barns, but you do next door. If you’re hearing voices that would be perfect for Don G, schedule it for Filene. I’m sure NSO can play it :).

Lorin Maazel did the Rape of Lucretia at Castleton two or three years ago (Tamara Mumford was a very fine Lucretia). There is some overlap between the Barns audience and Castleton (I’ve seen some of the same faces both places). I’d be happy to see a different take on it, but not everyone would.


You should do more Russian opera. Like The Queen of Spades. Or, if you decide to go with one acts, Aleko, perhaps combined with another “gypsy-themed” opera.


Thanks, Anna. Love Russian opera! Unfortunately, our orchestra pit isn’t large enough to accommodate any of those amazing pieces.

Hans Tuch

I don’t think I ever said that about Britten, or did I? I did mention the Paisiello Barber for a change.


Why not a double bill of Menotti – Say Amelia Goes to the Ball and The Old Maid and the Thief? Both have small orchestra’s and are set in a single room. You could even add the Telephone if you want a Triple Bill (probably pushing it). Still one room, still a small orchestra. No chorus in any of these, but you could also substitute Help! Help! The Globolinks which has 8 solo parts and a chorus (plus children which may be a problem). Several scenes, but they are scenes such as “a deserted road” or “a barren plain” which would not tax the barns facilities.

If you pair up with the National Symphony in the Filene Center, how about Iolantha by Tchaikovsky which has 10 solo parts of various sizes and a chorus? Could easily do it semi staged, maybe teamed with the aforementioned Aleko. I don’t know if finding a Russian coach would be a problem but it would help the young artists you use learn.

I don’t think any of these have been done in the D.C. area for a while, Iolantha was done in Baltimore semi-staged with their orchestra a number of years ago, as was La Scala di Sieta with the late Baltimiore Opera (I found the opera kind of “eh”.)


Forgot to add..if you do Iolantha with the National Symphony, instead of Aleko you could do it on a night or nights they also do the 1812 Overture which is an annual event for them. Lots of butts in the seat for that, it would expose the audience to the opera as well in an all Tchaikovsky evening. One drawback with Iolantha which may be an issue is that I’ve only heard it with good size voices and it may be too taxing for young artists.


John – We haven’t approached Menotti in a while, and this is a good reminder. Did you know that Maryland Opera Studio just performed “Amelia” last week? Iolantha is an ambitious thought, as is Aleko. Would really depend on a very unusual and particular crop of young artists. (And regarding your “lots of butts in seats” remark: From your mouth to God’s ears!


Grace – It looks like you’re going to get one of your wishes, at least… :)


Tom – And yes, the Paisiello BARBER would be an interesting thought… We actually just uncovered the Gazzaniga GIOVANNI, too…

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