Mozart, Monteverdi & Puccini

WTOC 2009 season just announced! See below, and go here for details on the Wolf Trap website.

Così fan tutte
The School for Lovers

The Barns at Wolf Trap (New Production)

June 26, 28(m), 30

“A thousand times a day, women change their affections.
Some call it vice, others call it a habit.
To me it seems a necessity of the heart.
The lover who finds himself deceived should blame no one but himself.”

(Don Alfonso)

On a dare, two men test the faithfulness of the women they plan to marry. Their jaded colleague believes that women all are alike, and none of them can be trusted. (Così fan tutte translates clunkily, but it means something like “All Women Act the Same.”) He makes a bet with his friends, and they set about a plan to test their fiancées.

Così disappeared from opera stages for over 100 years because it was considered too shocking. It’s hard for us to imagine how a Mozart opera could be so scandalous, but the premise of Così undermines our basic beliefs about trust and relationships.

Our production examines the curiosity that can lead us to mistrust our loved ones. Is it possible to shake doubt after beginning to check up on someone behind her back? How do we act once we have learned something never intended for us? What do we say when we think we are alone versus when we are with others? Are we truly able to forgive infidelity?

The script (libretto) for Così is masterful, but it skews firmly on the sarcastic, cynical side of the topic. Mozart’s music takes a story line that could easily become snarky or simply pedestrian and imbues it with things that we feel deep in our souls. He makes us laugh, he lets our hearts ache, and he shows us how fragile our connections are.

The orchestral overture to Così has been called the musical equivalent of good gossip. It sets the stage for a story played out against the adrenaline, hormones, and naïveté of youth. We meet Fiordiligi and Dorabella, two sisters happily engaged to (respectively) Guglielmo and Ferrando. Their beaus are convinced by their friend Alfonso that they should enter into an experiment to test their fiancées’ faithfulness. The final member of the story, the girls’ maid Despina, is made a willing but incompletely informed accomplice to the whole thing.

Will the ladies cheat on their men? (I’ll bet you already have your suspicions.) And if they do succumb, what then?

Artistic Team
Conductor – Timothy A. Myers
Director – Eric Einhorn
Scenic Design – Erhard Rom
Costume Design – Mattie Ullrich
Lighting Design – Robert H. Grimes
Hair & Makeup – Elsen Associates


Despina – Alicia Gianni
Fiordiligi – Rena Harms
Dorabella – Jamie Van Eyck
Ferrando – David Portillo
Guglielmo – Matthew Hanscom
Alfonso – Carlos Monzón

The Return of Ulysses
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

The Barns at Wolf Trap (New Production)

July 24, 26(m), 28

“Turn toward home, Ulysses.
Penelope waits for you.
She sighs, and she suffers in silence.
Turn toward home, Ulysses!”

(Ulysses’ wife Penelope)

The world used to be different. Men would go off to war and be missing for twenty years. Women would wait – patient and unknowing – in the hope that their husbands would return. Life would never be the same, of course, but hope was all they had. Men and women realized that their fates were not their own, and they looked to someone more powerful than themselves to help them through.

Perhaps the world isn’t that different at all. We still hope against hope when the stakes are high, and love sometimes is enough. And the feeling of not being in control of our own destiny is as timeless as the story of Ulysses.

In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses fought in the Trojan Wars and survived a trip home so harrowing that it coined a new word in the English language. Monteverdi’s opera begins near the end of Ulysses’ story – his homecoming – and in doing so, it shines a light on his wife Penelope, who has waited patiently and faithfully for twenty years.

All Baroque opera included obligatory appearances by gods and goddesses, and Ulisse is no different. The goddess of wisdom makes it possible for Ulysses to go back home undetected – to see that Penelope has waited for him, and to drive away the men who are trying to move in on both his wife and his property. The gods of love, fortune and time warn us that life is fragile and that to believe in the power of men is folly. The messy and vital life of Penelope’s household is filled out by a large cast of (over 20) characters – confidantes, young lovers, drunkards, and opportunists.

At 358 years old, Ulisse is one of the earliest operas ever written. Yet its message remains potent with every telling. Monteverdi’s music is hypnotic and somewhat exotic. The typical opera orchestra of violins, cellos, clarinets and horns is replaced by a striking combination of lutes, harpsichords, viols and recorders. Put aside your expectations and stereotypes and hear the story of Ulysses and Penelope.

Artistic Team
Conductor – Gary Thor Wedow
Director – James Marvel
Scenic Design – Eric Allgeier
Costume Design – Andrea Huelse
Lighting Design – Robert H. Grimes
Hair & Makeup – Elsen Associates

The Gods
Minerva – Ava Pine
Fortuna/Giunone – Alicia Gianni
Tempo/Nettuno – Nicholas Masters
Amor – Hana Park
Giove – Daniel Billings

The Mortals
Ulisse – Dominic Armstrong
Penelope – Jamie Barton
Telemaco – Chad Sloan
Melanto – Jamie Van Eyck
Eumete – Paul Appleby
Eurimaco/Pisandro – David Portillo
Ericlea – Rena Harms
Anfinomo – Matthew Hanscom
Antinoo – Carlos Monzón
Iro – Diego Torre

La bohème
A concert staging with the National Symphony Orchestra

Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

August 7

“Though I am poor, I squander songs of love like a wealthy man.
My dreams, hopes, and fantasies make me rich as a millionaire.
But all of my jewels are nothing next to your two beautiful eyes.”


Rodolfo and Mimì love each other with abandon. She loves him so much that she hides her illness to protect him from worry. And he loves her so completely that he’s willing to give her up so she can find her way to a life that might cure her. Marcello and Musetta love each other in their own dramatic and roller-coaster way – one of those relationships that is entertaining on the stage and pure hell in real life. But they both have hearts of gold.

The musical Rent introduced a new generation to the crushingly beautiful story of young love that is La bohème. It started as a series of short stories published in a French magazine – a romantic look at what it was like to be a struggling artist in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The stories were turned into a play, which was picked up by the team of Puccini and his librettists as the subject material for their opera.

Many of us long for a brief taste of the freedom that we attribute to starving artists – freedom from the obligations of adulthood and society, and the ability to create music, paintings, novels, and poems that inspire. F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time… [to] be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.” The beauty of Bohème is that it draws us into the headiness of that freedom while reminding us that poverty often walks hand-in-hand with death and loss.

Puccini’s music is unabashedly lush and descriptive. The potency of these young peoples’ dreams and desires comes across the footlights in their words, their actions, and the gloriously unfettered phrases of their singing. With the National Symphony Orchestra onstage, and our own cast of gloriously talented singers down front, Bohème will be an unforgettable night of young love and beautiful music.

Artistic Team
Conductor – Stephen Lord
Director – Kevin Newbury
Projection Design – S. Katy Tucker
Scenic Design – Cameron Anderson
Costume Design – Jessica Jahn
Lighting Design – Mark Stanley
Hair & Makeup – Elsen Associates

Musetta – Ava Pine
Mimi – Hana Park
Rodolfo – Diego Torre
Schaunard – Matthew Hanscom
Marcello – Daniel Billings
Colline – Carlos Monzón
Benoit/Alcindoro – Nicholas Masters

Recitals with Steven Blier

Steven is a musical marvel and a treasured colleague. For over 15 years he has taken our artists to places they never knew they could go, and he has led them in spinning out memorable and compelling evenings for Wolf Trap patrons. Tickets sell out quickly for these single performances.

Road Trip!
A Coast-to-Coast Musical Tour of America
The Barns at Wolf Trap
June 6

A coast-to-coast musical tour of America. This gasoline-free road trip will stop in New England, New York, the Shenandoah Mountains, the Wild West, and will culminate —naturally — in Hollywood!

The Pursuit of Love
The Barns at Wolf Trap
August 1

An evening of songs, duets, and ensembles glorifying the pursuit—and attainment—of love.

WTOC Class of 2009

Photos and bios of our 15 Filene Young Artists and 12 Studio Artists will be available on the Wolf Trap website soon!

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