Castleton announces 2015 season

Met’s Fabio Luisi joins Maazel proteges Payare and Percacciolo, new Marsalis-led jazz begins in July

Wild-haired, expressive and intensely focused 35-year-old Venezuelan horn player turned conductor Rafael Payare will be Castleton's principal conductor in 2015.
Wild-haired, expressive and intensely focused 35-year-old Venezuelan horn player turned conductor Rafael Payare will be Castleton’s principal conductor in 2015.

Dietlinde Turban Maazel — appointed the Castleton Festival’s new artistic director and executive director for the festival’s first season without its founder and maestro, her husband, Lorin Maazel — late last week announced plans for the festival’s seventh season in 2015, which offers more than 24 performances over its five-weekend run July 2-Aug. 2.

The 2015 program will showcase Castleton’s rising stars alongside world-renowned artists in new productions of Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Ravel’s “The Spanish Hour,” a world premiere of Derrick Wang’s comic opera “Scalia/Ginsburg” and a Castleton production of Thornton Wilder’s classic play “Our Town,” directed by Turban Maazel.

Changes to the Castleton Festival’s organization, including the departure of board chair Judith Richards Hope and general manager Nancy Gustafson, a festival fixture since it began in 2009, were also announced last week.

As Castleton revealed in August, Jazz at Lincoln Center — and JALC founder Wynton Marsalis — will host a summer Jazz Academy residency for high school musicians, who will present four concerts from July 19 to Aug. 2 under Marsalis’ direction.

Metropolitan Opera principal conductor Fabio Luisi conducts July 19 at Castleton.
Metropolitan Opera principal conductor Fabio Luisi conducts July 19 at Castleton.

Fabio Luisi, principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, will appear as guest conductor on July 19 this coming season — the festival’s announcement noting that it was the late Maazel’s “wish to welcome Maestro Luisi as a conductor” at Castleton.

Two of Maestro Maazel’s protégés will join as conductors as well: Salvatore Percacciolo, who was part of Castleton’s Conductors’ Seminar in 2014 and successfully took over “Don Giovanni” from the ailing Maazel, and Rafael Payare, winner of the 2012 Malko Competition — whom Castleton has named principal conductor.

“My husband invested his energy, love and resources into the Castleton Festival in order to create a forum, a national resource center for young performers who would ensure that classical music survives, and that new audiences are found and energized,” said Turban Maazel. “His baton is truly ‘passed on’ now to two extraordinary young conductors — talent my husband had identified and mentored — assuring the highest standard of music making. I am also deeply grateful that Maestro Luisi will conduct our concert on July 19.”

Castleton Festival's Dietlinde Turban Maazel.
Castleton Festival’s Dietlinde Turban Maazel. Molly M. Peterson

“After our huge loss, on all levels,” Turban Maazel said by phone last Friday, “there has been some regrouping and some rethinking necessary,” much of it, she said, also involving the educational side of Castleton’s programs. In addition to its world-class operatic and theatrical productions, she hopes Castleton can move toward becoming more of a conservatory, with year-round educational and performance programs, she said.

Longtime member Christopher Wall has stepped in as chairman of the festival’s board of directors, Turban Maazel said. Gustafson’s position of general manager, she said, has been eliminated, its responsibilities to be shared by her, as executive director, and by other staff.

“I’m very, very optimistic,” she said. “I think we’re going in a good direction, and I think we’re going to have a great festival.”

In addition to conductors Luisi, Payare, and Percacciolo, the 2015 roster of new and returning artists includes Tyler Nelson, Kate Allen, directors Maria Tucci and Dorothy Danner, and Stanford Olsen, newly appointed director of Castleton Artists Training Seminar (CATS). A performance by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will be a major highlight.

Turban Maazel, an award-winning actor and co-founder of the festival, said the 2015 Castleton Festival will continue its tradition of bringing together internationally renowned conductors and artists to live and work in a harmonious, supportive, musical family setting on the grounds of the Maazels’ Castleton Farms.

The Castleton Festival is distinctive in the region and beyond as a venue, performance series and showcase for more than 200 outstanding young professional singers, producers and instrumentalists-in-training through its CATS program and the Castleton Festival Orchestra, both composed of outstanding young professionals at the start of their careers.

Along with the opera and theater productions, the 2015 festival will also bring back symphonic concerts, chamber music, vocal recitals and the July 4 weekend bluegrass and All-American Band concerts that have been a hallmark since 2009.

Tickets for the 2015 summer season will go on sale Jan. 5 at and through the box office at 866-974-0767.

There’s more about the 2015 Castleton Festival season online at

The Castleton 2015 Season

The 2015 Castleton Festival’s programming includes opera, theater, recitals, symphonic concerts and special events:

Opera and theater

The festival’s operatic offerings in 2015 include two beloved favorites and a strikingly contemporary work.

‘Roméo et Juliette’ (‘Romeo and Juliet’) — July 3, 5, 10, 18

Following a July 2 evening bluegrass concert, Castleton will open its operatic program on Friday, July 3, with Charles Gounod’s five-act opera “Roméo et Juliette” (“Romeo and Juliet”), which will be performed in the Castleton Festival Theatre with a full cast and chorus, including some of the 40 young participants in the Castleton Artists Training Program (CATS). “Roméo et Juliette” will be directed by Dorothy Danner. Danner previously directed Castleton’s 2012 production of Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music.”

‘L’heure espagnole’ (‘The Spanish Hour’) and ‘Scalia/Ginsburg’ — July 11, 17, 19

Opening on July 11 is a comedic double bill of two one-act operas directed by Broadway and film star Maria Tucci. Maurice Ravel’s opera “L’heure espagnole” (“The Spanish Hour”) will be paired with Derrick Wang’s comedic opera “Scalia/Ginsburg.” Castleton artist Kate Allen (Suzuki in Castleton’s 2014 production of “Madama Butterfly”) will star as Concepción; tenor Tyler Nelson (most recently in Castleton’s 2014 production of “Don Giovanni”) will sing the role of Gonzalve in “L’heure espagnole.”

“L’heure espagnole” (“The Spanish Hour”) is a comedic opera in 21 scenes. It first premiered in Paris in 1911 with a running time of only 45 minutes. It is a hilarious story about a cuckolded clockmaker in Toledo whose wife sends him out to check the town’s clocks on Thursdays so she can meet her three lovers. She spends the hour her husband is away hiding her lovers from her husband — and from each other. “The Spanish Hour” is one of only two operas by Ravel. His second opera, “L’enfant et les sortilèges,” was written for children and was performed at the 2011 Castleton Festival.

“Scalia/Ginsburg,” a new American opera by Derrick Wang about U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia, will have its world premiere production on July 11 at the Castleton Festival.

In the plot of this comic opera, justices Ginsburg and Scalia must pass through three cosmic trials to secure their freedom. The catch: they may have to agree on the Constitution. Derrick Wang’s “Scalia/Ginsburg” is a valentine to law and opera, where the law’s leading players go toe-to-toe and trill-to-trill in a (gentle) parody of operatic proportions. Opinions are offered, dissents are delivered. And justice is sung.

“Scalia/Ginsburg” began its journey in a presentation at the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2013, and, since then, excerpts from the opera have been presented in concert by musical and legal organizations. One such concert presentation was at the Castleton Festival in June 2014, where selections from “Scalia/Ginsburg” were enthusiastically received as part of Justice Ginsburg’s sold-out “Law in Opera” presentation. This presentation inspired the Castleton Festival to commission the world premiere production of “Scalia/Ginsburg.”

I am excited to work with the Castleton Festival on the world premiere production of ‘Scalia/Ginsburg,’” says Derrick Wang, the opera’s composer and librettist. “Castleton embodies Maestro Lorin Maazel’s dedication to new work, young artists and the transformative power of opera. It is a great honor to take part in his musical legacy.”

Conductors and further casting for these productions will be announced in 2015.

‘Our Town’ — July 9, 11, 18

Castleton will also mount a new production of the classic Thornton Wilder play “Our Town,” directed by Dietlinde Turban Maazel and featuring the young singing residents participating in the CATS opera training program, which includes a focus on acting. “Our Town” first premiered in Princeton, New Jersey in 1938 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that same year. It is set in Grover’s Corners, a fictional American small town, and depicts the stories and everyday lives of

the townspeople over scenes from 1901 and 1913. “Our Town” is usually performed without a set or props.


The Castleton Festival will be programming its full symphonic and chamber music series in the coming weeks. Among the concerts already confirmed are a July 2 bluegrass concert, an All- American Band concert conducted by Colonel John Bourgeois on July 4, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on July 12, and a July 19 extravaganza of “Opera Around the World,” conducted by Fabio Luisi, principal conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.

Jazz at Castleton

In 2015, Castleton welcomes America’s native classical music, jazz, to the greater D.C. and Virginia region as Wynton Marsalis, friend and longtime colleague of Maestro Lorin Maazel, brings Jazz at Lincoln Center’s summer training program for high school students to Castleton. The first Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Academy will take place July 19-August 2 and will include two weekends of performances following the Castleton Festival’s classical and opera program.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Academy is Jazz at Lincoln Center’s first music education and performance summer program for high school students. The two-week institute, designed and instructed by Jazz at Lincoln Center’s managing and artistic director, Wynton Marsalis, and a select faculty will serve as a rigorous training program for 42 of the most advanced and dedicated high school jazz students (grades 9-12) in the world. The academy’s educational components will be led by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, with Marsalis.

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