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Washington National Opera announces complete Ring Cycle, commission projects

Washington National Opera, now firmly a component of the Kennedy Center, made welcome news Tuesday.

For starters, the long-delayed complete "Ring" Cycle -- the company started it, but ran out of money before reaching "Götterdämmerung" -- will be presented in 2016.

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This is the so-called "American" Ring, a concept developed by Francesca Zambello, who directed the first three installments in Washington ("Das Rheingold" in 2006, "Die Walküre" in 2007, "Siegfried" in 2009).

Zambello directed the complete cycle last season at the San Francisco Opera. She is now WNO's artistic adviser and will direct at least one production for the company each season.

A concert version "Götterdämmerung" was presented in Washington in 2009, marking the WNO debut of conductor Philippe Auguin, subsequently named WNO music director. He will conduct complete cycle in 2016.

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Staring next season, the company will launch a three-part commissioning project. First up, an opportunity for student composers and librettists (three teams will be chosen) to develop 20-minute operas "based on ..

contemporary American stories."

In the future, WNO will commission a new work of a one-hour length from "a more experienced American composer-librettist team," again with an American-oriented plot.

Ultimately, "a leading young American composer and librettist" will be commissioned to create "a full-length opera on a contemporary American theme." This work will be full staged and given a slot on the company's regular subscription season.

In other news, WNO will start using the Terrace Theater again for productions, the first time since 1987. Folks with long memories will recall some very effective, intimate opera experiences in that theater when it was regularly used by the company. And WNO will also start offering family-friendly holiday programming next season.

PHOTO BY KARIN COOPER

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