Castleton Festival 2011 fare is set

Maestro Lorin Maazel shakes hands with Festival Orchestra members after a concert at the 2010 event. Photo by E. Raymond Boc.

From contributed reports
Artistic director Lorin Maazel and administrative director Dietlinde Turban Maazel have announced and concert program details for the 2011 Castleton Festival, which will bring together young talent with experienced professionals for 20 opera and concert performances over four weeks starting June 25.

As previously announced, new productions will be staged of Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Ravel’s “L’enfant et les sortileges,” and Kurt Weill’s “Seven Deadly Sins” in addition to concerts featuring excerpts from Gershwin’s “Porgy & Bess” and Bizet’s “Carmen” and four orchestral concerts.

Returning Castleton productions include Puccini’s “Il tabarro” and “Gianni Schicchi,” de Falla’s “Master Pedro’s Puppet Show” and Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale.”

This year, the festival extends beyond the two venues at the Maazels’ Castleton Farms in Rappahannock County to the 1,121-seat Merchant Hall at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas and to the inaugural BlackCreek Summer Music Festival at Toronto’s 14,000-seat Rexell Centre. Two post-festival concerts will be given under the auspices of the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing’s famous Opera House known as “the Egg.”

One of the hallmarks of the Castleton Festival, now entering its third season, is the quality of the performances and productions that Maestro Maazel says are worthy of any established international festival. Of last year’s festival, Gramophone magazine wrote: “Not only does the Maestro bring out the best in these young musicians, they bring out the best in him. And ultimately, that’s what makes Castleton so special; young artist-fueled summer programs abound, but where else can they learn from the undisputed best?”

Maazel says: “Our festival’s heart lies in identifying and nurturing stars of the future — singers, musicians, conductors and stage directors — and I am delighted that this year’s festival will see many of the singers who are now singing in major opera houses around the world return to Castleton to perform roles they excelled in last year, and in new roles to delight our audiences.”

The festival’s rising talent will be augmented by guest appearances of internationally acclaimed artists including mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, who will perform excerpts from Bizet’s Carmen at the first orchestral concert on Sunday, June 26 with tenor Richard Troxell. Graves will also perform songs by Stephen Foster at a concert commemorating the 150th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) at Manassas’ Hylton Center on July 21. Both concerts will be conducted by Maazel.

Grammy-winning soprano Sylvia McNair will present her one-woman show called “Subject to Change!” at the Theatre at Washington on Monday, July 18.

In addition to the singers selected by audition by Maazel and festival general manager Nancy Gustafson for key roles in the festival productions, the festival also runs the Castleton Artists Training Seminar (CATS) that this year has more than doubled in size to 40 participants.

All of the music for the staged performances and concerts will be performed by members of the Castleton Festival Orchestra that Maazel describes as “a group of carefully vetted young virtuosos who put their prowess at the service of their art, lovingly mentored by established artists, including myself.” The 87 musicians come from the United Kingdom, France, South Korea, China, Russia, Germany and Canada as well as from the United States.

On Sunday, July 17 violinist Jennifer Koh will perform Maestro Maazel’s “Music for Violin and Orchestra” with the Castleton Festival Orchestra led by Maazel. Ms. Koh will also feature in three performances of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale,” which she performed last year.

All Castleton Festival productions are directed by Castleton’s resident stage director William Kerley, with sets and costumes by Nicholas Vaughan and lighting by Rie Ono. Productions at Castleton Farms are performed in the intimate 140-seat Theatre House that was custom-built on the property, and the Festival Tent. This year’s ‘tent’ will be a new permanent structure that will seat 400 people and that is insulated, providing patrons with a more comfortable, air-conditioned experience.

More information and tickets: www.castletonfestival.org.

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