‘Don Giovanni,’ ‘Madama Butterfly,’ concerts of Mozart, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Maazel among 18 performances June 28-July 20
Artistic directors Lorin Maazel and Dietlinde Turban Maazel last week announced the sixth season of the Castleton Festival at their state-of-the-art performance venues set in the rolling meadows of Castleton Farms next June 28 to July 20.
This season’s program will showcase Castleton’s rising stars working alongside world-renowned artists in new productions of “Don Giovanni” and “Madama Butterfly,” three symphonic concerts, theatrical readings, chamber music, singing recitals, bluegrass, fireworks and more.
The Castleton Festival has grown exponentially since its first season in 2009 as a unique collaboration for and by artists — where emerging talent and established professionals come together in a country setting to present music, opera and theater with fresh energy. It distinguishes itself because it’s at once a producing entity, a performance venue and a mentoring program for young professionals.
“It’s going to be a fabulous season,” said festival general manager Nancy Gustafson. “This year offers something for everyone, and we’ve tried to design the weekends like that — to appeal to everyone . . . There’s a reason to come to Rappahannock every weekend.”
Tickets for the 2014 season, including individual performance tickets and package deals that include several shows, are available at castletonfestival.org or by calling the box office at 866-974-0767.
The festival’s operatic offerings in 2014 explore the comic, the tragic, the poetic and the ironic with titles closely associated with artistic director Lorin Maazel and reflective of historic productions, infused with his theatrical sense and experience music-making in the world’s greatest opera houses and on film.
Maestro Maazel will conduct two new productions in 2014, both in the 650-seat Festival Theatre: “Don Giovanni,” Mozart’s two-act opera based on the legendary exploits and adventures of the fictional hero Don Juan, directed by Italian stage director Giandomenico Vaccari, returning to Castleton for the second straight year; and “Madama Butterfly,” the Puccini favorite which tells the dramatic love story of a Naval officer and his young Japanese bride. In addition, George Bernard Shaw’s ironic counter-piece, “Don Juan in Hell,” will be presented as a theatrical reading in the 140-seat Theatre House.
Javier Arrey, who made his debut as arch-villain Iago in Castleton’s 2013 production of “Otello,” returns to the festival as Don Giovanni in 2014. Also returning is Castleton-alum tenor Jonathan Burton as American naval officer Lt. Pinkerton. Burton previously appeared as Dick Johnson in the 2013 production of “The Girl of the Golden West” and as Rodolfo in 2011’s “La Bohème.” Additional casting for “Madama Butterfly” and “Don Juan in Hell” will be announced next month.
Symphonic concerts by Castleton Festival Orchestra, comprised of some 50 young professional musicians from all over the world chosen by Maazel via audition, include “King Mozart” — which features one of Mozart’s violin concertos, a clarinet concerto and Symphonic Works, conducted by Maestro Maazel.
A second concert centers on the theme “Story in Music” and features Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” and three works composed by Lorin Maazel: “The Giving Tree,” inspired by Shel Silverstein’s tale; “The Empty Pot,” a Chinese legend (with text by the children’s book author Demi); and “Vapours and Capers,” a synthesis of famous Irish folk tunes such as Danny Boy. Maazel conducts.
“Love in Music” is the theme for the third symphonic concert, presenting arias and duets from beloved operas, art songs from the baroque and early classic periods, Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo Variations” and other orchestral works conducted by Maazel and with some selections guest-conducted by Malko Competition winner and Castleton alum Rafael Payare of Venezuela.
The 2014 festival also includes chamber music, song recitals and the premiere of a new work by a young composer as part of the “Young Composers Forum,” with the composition to be selected by Maestro Maazel.
To kick off the Fourth of July weekend with a patriotic flare, the Castleton Festival again holds its popular community bluegrass concert, followed by a spectacular fireworks display in the meadow next to the Festival Theatre on July 3, followed by a special all-American concert conducted by composer and former U.S. Marine Band conductor John R. Bourgeois at 2 p.m. July 4. “This weekend is everything but the kitchen sink,” laughed Gustafson. “I can’t wait, because it’s going to be superb. Whatever kind of music you’re into, we’ve tried to provide it.”
New to the festival this year are the MMMs — Maestro Maazel Masterclasses, a seminar for young conductors. Ten candidates will be chosen from a large pool of applicants to study with Maazel. In these daily, focused classes, Maazel will address a range of specialties, including how to conduct an opera and the art of interpretation. “I don’t know where he’s going to find the energy,” said Gustafson. “But our goal with the festival is to help young artists and keep music alive.”
The festival also continues its acclaimed Castleton Artists Training Seminar (C.A.T.S.), a credit-earning college course that selects 40-50 students each summer for a rigorous eight-week course in singing, acting, movement, languages and career management, led by a star faculty, including esteemed soprano (and festival general manager) Gustafson and festival co-director and acclaimed actor Dietlinde Turban Maazel.