Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will Young And Idealistic New Washington Mayor Be Able To Usher In New Age Of Inclusive Quality Public Education And Culture In The Nation's Capital?

We will have to see whether the young, and enormously promising, probable new Mayor of our Nation's Capital, Adrian Fenty, will be able to bring the same focused and progressive energy to Washington, D.C. that Mayor Gavin Newsom is bringing to San Francisco, California since a few years ago and Mayor Andriy Sadovey is bringing to Lviv, Ukraine since April of this year. All three great and promising cities are technically about the same size, with Lviv, Ukraine (the cultural capital of Western Ukaine and of Eastern Europe between Krakow, Poland and Kyiv, Ukraine) technically the largest of the three -- with about 800,000 multicultural and multifaithed residents.

I met and spoke with the probable Washington, D.C. Mayoral elect Adrian Fenty on Monday, September 11, the memorial of the terrorist attacks of five years ago; and I was impressed by his idealism and strength of character. I was shocked after his primary victory to see The Washington Post cite unnamed critics who worry of Mr Fenty's lack of "intellectual gravitas".

Of course, it is hoped that Mr Fenty will now back a new and distinguished Central Public Library and National Conservatory of Music in the Nation's capital; as well as the new baseball stadium which was the center of a disproporionate amount of energy on the part of out-going Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and his business backers the past ten years.

To national public culture, to national public culture ...

PBS is following up on its national live broadcast, last night, of the 'gala' opening of the New York Philharmonic's 2006-07 Season, with two broadcasts from Europe, the center of the classical arts in today's world, and the center of classical arts media broadcasting in today's world. On September 18, there will be a broadcast on PBS Television of the Vienna State Opera 50th Anniversary Reopening Concert, marking fifty years since the reopening of the famous Opera House since its partial destruction near the end of World War II. Then, on September 26, on PBS Television, there will be a concert from the Salzburg Mozart Festival featuring the highly distinguished Vienna Philharmonic, which has featured for many years the musical talents on the trombone of a former high school and youth orchestra friend of mine. Check Charles T. Downey's for future expert updates on PBS public television's rise from the ashes in terms of quality public cultural broadcasting.

On the national public radio broadcasting front, I note that the so-called 'Washington National Opera' has hit the big-time and will be featured for the next four installments of NPR's World of Opera, on Saturday afternoons. Here are the details, but beware that the actual broadcasts in the past have not always matched what was on the PBS or NPR web-sites:

September 16

The Elixir of Love by Gaetano Donizetti

There's not a lot to be taken seriously in this comic romp by Donizetti. Unless, of course, you count the music! It's some of Donizetti's finest, and takes the opera beyond the world of farce to a place where simple confidence can lead to life-changing revelations. Washington National Opera: Emmanuel Villaume, conductor
Cast: Elizabeth Futral (Adina); Paul Groves (Nemorino); Marc Barrard (Belcore); Steven Condy (Dr. Dulcamara); Christina Martos (Giannetta)

September 23

Vespri Siciliani by Giuseppe Verdi

If you've ever wondered why some people think the opera's not over until all the characters are dead, this piece may be the reason. It has enough deadly plotting, and enough of Verdi's finest music, for several evenings in the opera house. Washington National Opera: Placido Domingo, conductor
Cast: Maria Guleghina (Elena); Franco Farina (Arrigo); Lado Ataneli (Montforte); Vitalij Kowaljow (Procida); Erin Elizabeth Smith (Ninetta); Robert Baker (Danieli); Corey Evan Rotz (Tebaldo); J. Austin Bitner (Manfredo); James Shaffran (Roberto); John Marcus Bindel (Bethune); Benjamin von Atrops (Vaudemont)

September 30

L'Italiana in Algeri by Gioacchino Rossini

The plot is more than a little silly -- not to mention politically incorrect in the extreme! But nobody did wackiness better, and more beautifully, than Rossini did in this brilliant score -- heard here from a cast filled top to bottom with world-class Rossini singers. Washington National Opera: Riccardo Frizza, conductor
Cast: Olga Borodina (Isabella); Juan Diego Florez (Lindoro); Ildar Abdrazakov (Mustafà); Lyubov Petrova (Elvira); Leslie Mutchler (Zulma); Bruno de Simone (Taddeo); Valeriano Lanchas (Haly)

October 7

Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner

Placido Domingo's Washington National Opera ends its 2006 broadcast season -- and begins World of Opera's fall quarter -- with the first installment in its striking new production of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen. Washington National Opera: Heinz Fricke, conductor
Cast: Robert Hale (Wotan); Robin Leggate (Loge); Gordon Hawkins (Alberich); Elizabeth Bishop (Fricka); Jane Ohmes (Freia); Gary Rideout (Mime); Jeffrey Wells (Fafner); John Marcus Brindel (Fasolt); Detlef Roth (Donner); Corey Evan Rotz (Froh); Frédérique Vézina (Wellgunde); JiYoung Lee (Woglinde); Jennifer Hines (Flosshilde); Elena Zaremba (Erda).

Art or Life?

Mayoral Democratic Primary Victor in Washington, D.C., 35 year old Adrian Fenty.

Distinguished American Opera Singer Anthony Dean Griffey stars in the so-called 'Washington National Opera' production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 2004.

Photo credits: Adrian Fenty campaign committee ( and Anthony Dean Griffey Web-site ( With thanks.


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