Castleton Festival sets its 8th summer season

The Castleton Festival’s 2016 summer season, its eighth annual program, will run the month of July and showcases Castleton’s rising operatic stars alongside world-renowned artists in a new production of Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” and an encore production of Benjamin Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia,” both conducted by the festival’s principal conductor Rafael Payare.

Rafael Payare is Castleton's principal conductor in the festival's 2016 season.
Rafael Payare is Castleton’s principal conductor in the festival’s 2016 season. Courtesy photo

In addition to the return of Payare, a most sought-after young conductor who recently made his opera debut conducting “Madame Butterfly” at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm, jazz great Wynton Marsalis will also return for a second annual Summer Jazz Academy at Castleton, along with special guest faculty and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will give a talk on “Law in Opera,” punctuated by semi-staged opera scenes with Castleton’s singers and orchestra. There will also be a tribute to Shakespeare as well as bluegrass, a “Great American Concert” conducted by Rappahannock’s own Col. John Bourgeois, Mozart’s “Requiem” and a chamber concert series directed by renowned cellist Alisa Weilerstein.

Subscriptions for the 2016 summer Castleton Festival go on sale Dec. 1 at and the festival box office at 866-974-0767. Tickets for individual performances will be available beginning on Feb. 1.

The Castleton Festival, a performance series and showcase for established musicians as well as young professional singers and instrumentalists through the summer Castleton Artists Training Seminar (CATS) and the Castleton Festival Orchestra, also plans to stream all its major presentations live via on the web, as a free offering. The 2016 festival features several CATS alumni, including Kira Dills-DeSurra and Erica Intilangelo, who portray Cherubino and Susanna, respectively, in “Le nozze di Figaro.”

Among the 2016 Castleton Festival operas is "The Rape of Lucretia" (Michael Rice and Ekaterina Metlova, shown here, starred in the Castleton's 2009 performance of the Britten opera.)
Among the 2016 Castleton Festival operas is “The Rape of Lucretia” (Michael Rice and Ekaterina Metlova, shown here, starred in the Castleton’s 2009 performance of the Britten opera.) Laurie Hayes

Davone Tines, a prominent Castleton alumnus noted as a “charismatic, full-voiced bass” by the New York Times, will perform “Old American Songs,” two sets of compositions by Aaron Copland, as part of the Great American Concert. Led by Bourgeois, the concert will feature a narration of Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait” by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel (another familiar Rappahannock face). Another prominent young singer starring in “Le nozze di Figaro” is soprano Emalie Savoy, who won this year’s German-based ARD International Music Competition, one of the most prestigious classical music competitions.

Performances at previous Festivals have been well received by music and theater critics, earning rave reviews in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun and Los Angeles Times. The Washington Times called the Castleton Festival “a cultural ‘Brigadoon’ for music lovers.” And The Washington Post calls it “one of the highlights of the area’s cultural year.”

For the second year, Castleton will be live-streaming all major performances — from fully staged operas to orchestral concerts to Jazz at Lincoln Center performances — beginning with “Le nozze di Figaro” on July 2. This groundbreaking access makes the Castleton Festival the first mid-Atlantic classical summer music festival to bring all of its performances to the world stage of the internet. Last year, more than a million worldwide watched Castleton’s streamed presentations, presented free at

Opera and theatre

The festival’s operatic offerings in 2016 include classic works, both conducted by Payare. Shakespeare’s impact on opera will also be honored, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will further explore the impact of law in opera.

Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” (“The Marriage of Figaro”) is brought to life in four acts. With a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on the trilogy of plays by Pierre Beaumarchais, this epic tale features Brandon Cedel in the title role and ARD International Music Competition winner Emalie Savoy in the role of the Countess. It premieres July 2 under the direction of New York theatre and film star Maria Tucci, with three performances through July 16.

Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia,” inspired by a Shakespearean poem describing events that took place among Roman aristocracy in 509 B.C., will be directed by renowned Britten expert and award-winning director William Kerley, commemorates both the 70th anniversary of the opera’s debut in England and the 40th anniversary of Britten’s death. It premieres July 9, with additional performances on July 15 and 17.

“The Music of Shakespeare” marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with a journey through operas inspired by his plays such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Othello” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Staged excerpts and arias, scenes and monologues will be performed by CATS artists on July 1, 10 and 16.


Principal conductor Rafael Payare brings Mozart’s “Requiem” to the Festival Theatre stage on July 10. Composed by Mozart in 1791, this final work, shrouded in mystery, was left unfinished upon his death and has been modified and completed by a number of his contemporaries as well as modern composers.  

Supreme Court Justice and opera aficionado Ruth Bader Ginsburg stars in an orchestral concert with semi-staged opera scenes by CATS artists and the Castleton Festival Orchestra. In a tongue-and-cheek talk punctuated by music, Ginsburg will share her passion for opera from a legal point of view. The July 16 performance will be conducted by Payare.

The Great American Concert: On July 3, an All-American orchestral concert will showcase the music of Copland, Sousa, Rodgers and more. Judge David Tatel will narrate Copland’s “A Lincoln Portrait,” Virginia native bass-baritone and Castleton alumnus Davone Tines is the featured soloist, and the Castleton Festival Orchestra will be conducted by Col. John Bourgeois, director emeritus of the United States Marine Band.

Bluegrass: Among the concerts slated for 2016 is a July 3 performance featuring bluegrass legends Seldom Scene. The Grammy-nominated band will play favorites from their more than four-decade career that began in a Bethesda basement, including selections from their recently released collection, “Long Time… Seldom Scene.” The concert concludes with a patriotic fireworks display in honor of Independence Day.

Jazz at Castleton

In 2016, Castleton welcomes back Wynton Marsalis as he brings Jazz at Lincoln Center’s summer training program for high school students to Castleton. The second annual Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Academy takes place July 23-31, and will include two weekends of performances headlined by Marsalis and featuring a host of established stars of jazz as well as a new generation of standout musicians.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Summer Jazz Academy celebrated its first edition at Castleton in 2015. The two-week institute, designed and instructed by Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis and a select faculty, serves as a rigorous training program for 42 of the most advanced and dedicated high school jazz students (grades 9-12) in the world. The students also perform on the weekends’ performances alongside Marsalis, the prestigious faculty and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

About Castleton

Founded in 2009 by the late Maestro Lorin Maazel and his wife Dietlinde, the Castleton Festival introduced classical music, theatre and opera performed by the stars of tomorrow, working with established artists, to the bucolic surroundings of Rappahannock County. The Castleton Festival is distinct among other music festivals in the greater Washington region and beyond because of its combined roles as a producing entity, a modern performance venue and a mentoring program for young artists and theatre professionals.

Each summer, the Ffestival has invited more than 250 artists to Castleton where young professional singers, instrumentalists, conductors, and theatre professionals finesse their craft alongside experienced mentors for eight weeks of rehearsals and performances.

Castleton has been a vista-opener for over 3,000 young people through open dress rehearsals, master classes and through its CATS (Castleton Artists Training Seminar) program for advanced vocal students which runs parallel to the summer performance festival. Castleton is committed to engaging CATS alumni to return in future seasons to perform leading and supporting roles. Alumni often go on to positions with leading orchestras and opera companies, such as the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the London Philharmonia, the Vienna Philharmonic, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and many others.

Festival performances take place in two venues on the Maazel family’s 600-acre estate: the Castleton Festival Theatre is a 650-seat air-conditioned proscenium theatre that includes multi-level seating and an orchestra pit accommodating up to 90 musicians. The Theatre House is an intimate, state-of-the-art 140-seat proscenium theatre including seating on two levels and an orchestra pit accommodating 20. Opened in 1997 in a remodeled chicken barn, often called a “Mini-Globe,” the Theatre House still serves as the focal point of Castleton’s year-round activities. Its stage has welcomed world-renowned artists such as José Carreras, Emanuel Ax and Itzhak Perlman, alongside rising classical music stars, and figures from world music, jazz, dance, and theatre, in a multicultural series called “Castleton in Performance” (CiP).

Led by CEO and Artistic Director Dietlinde Turban Maazel, an award-winning performer, the festival is, during its summer season, the largest non-government employer in Rappahannock County.

The Castleton Festival’s 2016 season is supported by private contributions and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

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