Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perestroika At The Washington National Opera? … Will Jane Lipton Cafritz And Kenneth Feinberg Put The National (And The Local) Back In The WNO?

Tomorrow is an important day culturally for opera in the Nation’s Capital, as Jane Lipton Cafritz assumes the Chairmanship of the Washington National Opera. She will work with WNO President Kenneth Feinberg, a compensation, mediation, and alternate dispute-resolution expert, and others, on trying to figure out whether the concept of a Washington National Opera is possible today in the Nation’s Capital.

The company has struggled artistically over the past generation as it has quickly tried to evolve from the Opera Society of Washington to the Washington Opera and now to the renamed -- with Congressional approval --Washington National Opera. Over the past several years, even before the deep global recession, the company has not been able to fulfill its promise to Congress, and to the American people, to produce one American opera every season.

From the June 10, 2009 announcement in Opera News Online, published by the MET Opera Guild:

"Washington National Opera has announced that Jane Lipton Cafritz, who has served on the company's board of trustees since 2002, will succeed John J. Pohanka as the board's chairman, effective July 1, 2009.

In addition, Washington National Opera's president, Kenneth Feinberg, was appointed today by treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner to an unpaid position at the Treasury Department, where he will have the purview of overseeing and setting the salary and compensation limits for 175 executives at seven of the companies — including Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors, Chrysler and AIG — that have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal assistance amidst the economic downturn. As salary czar, Feinberg will also develop a compensation structure for eighty smaller institutions that have been the beneficiaries of federal assistance. He will also reportedly have the discretion to determine whether the federal government should legally pursue the return of funds given to executives at companies that received assistance." ...

Photo credit: (c) Russ Hirshon 2009. For Opera News. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.


Washington Post Culture Critic Philip Kennicott on The Education of an [Opera] Audience in Opera News.


Is it the last six days of American classical music on Sharon Percy Rockefeller's Classical WETA-FM, in the Nation's Capital?


While the Washington National Opera undergoes reorganization, American world premieres continue this summer at the leading Santa Fe Opera:

"Special delivery from composer Paul Moravec and librettist Terry Teachout. A hard-boiled dame cooks up her own little Singapore fling. Her double-crossing lover gets a lethal dose of lead as a lovely parting gift. Her sap of a husband helps her get away with murder. Almost… Opera’s classic ingredients—lust, adultery, and revenge—are dished up noir style in this world premiere production. The Letter will be conducted by Patrick Summers and staged by Jonathan Kent, with scenery by Hildegard Bechtler and costumes by Tom Ford. Patricia Racette stars as the venomous Leslie Crosbie, Anthony Michaels-Moore plays her husband and James Maddalena is their ethically challenged lawyer."


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