- - Thursday, May 24, 2012

It’s summertime, and the living is … boring? Well, you don’t have to just sit at home and watch reruns on TV. Every summer, it seems, there is more to see, hear and enjoy in the Washington area.

In Castleton, Va., conductor Lorin Maazel’s festival seems firmly established as a music lover’s venue. And at the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Michelle Krisel, formerly tenor Placido Domingo’s assistant at the Washington National Opera, has enlivened an old, established summer event. And if it’s variety you crave, the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival offers more than 200 musical events, both classical and jazz.

So break out of that summertime rut, hit the road and find a new adventure among this sampling of what’s on offer within driving distance of the District:


In Charlottesville, Va., home of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Jefferson is referred to familiarly as “TJ.” The 34th season of the Ash Lawn Opera Festival - from July 13 to Aug. 7 - includes four performances of Mozart’s fantasy opera “The Magic Flute” (“Die Zauberflote”) sung in German with dialogue in English and English supertitles, and five performances of Meredith Willson’s ever-popular “The Music Man.” Both will be performed at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Charlottesville. Also planned is a family version of “The Magic Flute” - “Mozart’s Magic Piccolo” - an hourlong “introduction to the fun and magic of opera,” the festival announcement promises.

Metropolitan Opera sopranos Jennifer Zetlan and Emily Hindrichs and tenor David Portillo head the “Flute” cast, while Met regulars Trevor Scheunemann and Meredith Arwady are the leads for “The Music Man.” Tickets range from $11 to $54.

For more program information, visit www.ashlawnopera.org or call 434/293-4500. For tickets, visit www.theparamount.net or call 493/979-1333.


The Castleton Festival of opera and orchestral music is the brainchild of top international conductor Lorin Maazel. It’s held in a tent on the sprawling grounds of the Rappahannock County estate where he lives with his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel. The June 22-to-July 22 program includes Bizet’s “Carmen” and Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia.”

The festival opens with a recital by soprano Denyce Graves - who will not, alas, be singing Carmen, one of her signature roles. Instead, promising young artists will be showcased in the operas. That’s one of the festival’s intentions, hence the “Stars of the Future” concert, set for June 30. Also featured will be Stephen Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”

The festival brochure quotes Mr. Maazel as saying “I shall be there all the time doing my thing … mentoring, conducting, smiling.” He will conduct the Castleton Festival Orchestra in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as well as a cello concerto by Washington-based Argentine composer Maximo Flugelman with Inbal Segev as soloist.

Seldom Scene will be featured in a bluegrass concert on July 3.

Tickets for the main events range from $20 to $120.

For more information and the schedule of events, visit www.castletonfestival.org or call 540/937-3454. For tickets, visit www.castletonfestival.org or call 866/974-0767.


Situated in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley in the historic college town of Staunton, Va., the 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse tries to create conditions as close as it can to the Elizabethan theatergoing experience. Lights aren’t dimmed during performances, men sometimes play women’s roles (as boys would have done in Shakespeare’s day), music is emphasized, and, above all, there’s an open apron stage that replicates the bare-boards indoor stage of Tudor times. The one welcome change: cushions on the traditionally hard audience benches.

The center’s June 19-Sept 20 summer repertoire consists of “The Merchant of Venice”; “The Lion in Winter,” playwright James Goldman’s comedy-drama; and “The Two Gentlemen of Verona.”

Seating categories are benches, “gallants’ stools” and “lords’ chairs” (with real leather upholstery!), or sit in Juliet’s balcony. Tickets range from $16 to $35, with some performances on a “pay-what-you-will” basis.

For tickets and more information, visit www.americanshakespearecenter.com or call 540/851-1733 or 540/885-5588.


If you think of Wintergreen, Va., in the Blue Ridge Mountains as only a ski resort, you haven’t seen the 42-page online brochure of events at its annual music festival, set for July 6 through Aug. 5. The comprehensive program includes chamber music by young musicians in a dozen venues, including on the now-grass-covered ski slopes; jazz; master classes in playing the violin, cello and viola; performances by the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra; sessions with composers-in-residence; and art exhibitions, to say nothing of the cooking classes and wine tasting.

The programs are hugely varied, but some serious music gets played - and in some unusual locations. American cellist Wesley Baldwin, for example, will perform J.S. Bach’s six solo cello suites in a large barn. The orchestral concerts are led by a succession of conductors, including Mei-Ann Chan, director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets range from $10 for a wine tasting to $420 for a festival season pass, and everything in between.

For tickets and more information, visit www.wintergreenperformingarts.org or call 434/325-8292.


Lovers of new theater by American playwrights have been making the trek to this festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., for more than 20 years.

This year’s festival, which in recent seasons has included plays by David Mamet and Sam Shepard, runs July 6 through 29 and offers five works, including two world premiers: “Barcelona,” by Bess Wohl, about an American woman’s one-night stand with a stranger that turns sinister, and “Gidion’s Knot,” by Johnna Adams, about an emotionally disturbing parent-teacher conference. Also in the program is “Captors,” Evan M. Wiener’s portrayal of a Mossad agent’s interrogation of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.

Tickets range from $30 to $55; some performances are sold out already.

For more information or tickets, visit www.catf.org or call 304/876-3473.

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