WCO announces 2017-2018 Season

We are pleased to announce our 2017-18 season of two bel canto rarities.

The season begins with Vincenzo Bellini’s La Straniera on Sunday, November 19, featuring three rising stars in their WCO debuts: soprano Amanda Woodbury as Alaide, tenor Gerard Schneider as Arturo, and mezzo-soprano Corrie Stallings as Isoletta. Also joining them is WCO favorite, baritone Javier Arrey, in the role of Valdeburgo.

The season ends on Sunday, February 18, 2018 with Gaetano Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan, featuring soprano Marina Costa-Jackson in the title role, tenor Norman Reinhardt as Riccardo, baritone Lester Lynch as Enrico, and mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson as Gondì. All four will make their WCO debuts.

All performances will once again take place at Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University. Season subscriptions will be on sale starting in mid-May 2017 and can be purchased by calling (202) 364-5826 or online here.

WCO Welcomes New Executive Director

            The Board of Directors of Washington Concert Opera is pleased to announce the appointment of Caryn Kerstetter Reeves as its new Executive Director, effective August 22, 2016.  Ms. Reeves comes to WCO from The Glimmerglass Festival where she has served as Associate Director of Institutional Advancement since October 2013.

            “The Board believes Ms. Reeves brings wide-ranging skills and experience to the Executive Director position which will greatly enhance WCO’s marketing, development, artistic and business operations.  We are excited about Washington Concert Opera’s future with Ms. Reeves at the helm and look forward to her leadership in maintaining WCO’s long-held reputation for artistic excellence,” said Melissa Rhea, WCO President and chair of the Board.

             Antony Walker, WCO Artistic Director, said: "I'm looking forward to working with Caryn.  She will bring sound development experience, a thorough knowledge of opera and performing arts organizations, and a thoughtful, confident and youthful personality to WCO."

            Caryn Reeves said:  "I am greatly looking forward to my time with Washington Concert Opera, an organization I’ve long admired for its compelling musical programming and performances of the highest caliber.  It is especially exciting to join the company for its 30th Anniversary Season, and I plan to continue and expand upon the excellent work that has already been done over these past three decades.  It will be wonderful to celebrate with all of WCO's friends and supporters on September 18, which I know will be a memorable evening!"

            Prior to her work at Glimmerglass, Ms. Reeves served for two years as Development Officer for New York City Opera.  Ms. Reeves has a Master of Music in Voice Degree from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and holds a Graduate Diploma in Opera from the Royal College of Music in London.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Music from Eastman School of Music. 

            Ms. Reeves will succeed Ursula Kuhar as WCO’s Executive Director.  Dr. Kuhar, who is returning to academia, has provided WCO with significant growth opportunities and expanded community outreach during her tenure at WCO.  She will be leaving July 29, 2016 to return to her alma mater, Indiana University, where she has accepted the position of Lecturer of Arts Administration in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

            WCO is also pleased to announce the promotion of Adrianne Eby to the position of Chief Operating Officer, effective as of July 1, 2016.  Ms. Eby, who has been with WCO for over three years, will provide management continuity during the executive transition process.  We welcome her leadership in the commencement of WCO's 30th Anniversary Season - and Antony Walker's 15th anniversary as WCO Artistic Director - in September, and will be sorry to lose her contributions to our management team when she departs for the Boston area in the fall.

            President Melissa Rhea adds "We are excited about our 30th Anniversary Season, and honoring Antony on his 15th anniversary, and we are confident in our new management team as we move forward.”

2015-16 Season in Review

What an incredible season for WCO!

From the bel canto brilliance of Rossini's Semiramide to the drama of Donizetti's La Favorite, and everything in between, we have had a magnificent year.

Explore some of our favorite moments--on and off stage--below.

Because of you, we are able to present critically acclaimed performances of rare operatic masterpieces, be an integral part of the DC community and school programs, and champion emerging and established artists. Consider making a gift today to help us continue and grow our mission and vision based programming and initiatives.

Don't miss out on next season, celebrating our 30th Anniversary and 15 years under the artistic leadership of Maestro Antony Walker. Subscribe today and we look forward to seeing you at the opera!

Don't miss Strauss' Guntram on WETA this Saturday!

 Soprano Marjorie Owens and tenor Robert Dean Smith in Strauss'  Guntram , March 2015.

Soprano Marjorie Owens and tenor Robert Dean Smith in Strauss' Guntram, March 2015.

Tune into Classical WETA (90.9FM) Opera House for a broadcast of our 2015 performance of Strauss' first opera, Guntram, this Saturday, May 21 at 1pm. Relive this incredible performance starring Marjorie Owens (returning next season as the title role in Beethoven's Leonore), Robert Dean Smith, Tom Fox, and Wei Wu, under the baton of WCO Conductor and Artistic Director, Antony Walker. 

You can also stream this broadcast online here.

2016 Gala is SOLD OUT!

Our 2016 Gala, A Night at the Opera, is officially sold out!

In addition to a night of cocktails, dinner, music, and honoring arts patrons Elizabeth & Jan Lodal, there will also be a silent auction, with items ranging from artwork to vacation homes around the world. All proceeds will benefit WCO's artistic and education programming. Click here to check out these wonderful items up for bidding!



Announcing Our 2016 Gala Artists!

We are pleased to announce the artists for WCO's 2016 Gala: A Night at the Opera, on Thursday, May 12 at the Carnegie Institution for Science!

  Joanna Parisi                                                     Nicholas Pallesen

Joanna Parisi                                                     Nicholas Pallesen

Soprano Joanna Parisi has been applauded for her thrilling voice and acting ability in opera houses around the world. In March 2016, she was named one of WQXR Classical's "Forty Under Forty: Next Generation of Great Opera Singers". In 2015, she performed the title role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia with LoftOpera and was praised for her "big, spinto voice with confident flexibility" (NY Observer) and "scintillating performance" (The New York Times). Recent engagements include Margherita in Mefistofele with both Théâtre du Passage and Theatre Equilibre, Micaëla in Carmen with Teatro Antico di Taormina, and Leonora in Il Trovatore at Ópera de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. An active recording artist, she can be heard on the Capriccio label's album, Verdi Lieder, with tenor Ramón Vargas. 

Baritone Nicholas Pallesen is quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising talents of his generation and has been praised for his "authority and tonal beauty," "handsome, stylish singing," "depth of feeling," and his "formidable portrayal in bearing and voice." This season, he returns to New Orleans Opera as Falke in Die Fledermaus, the Metropolitan Opera in various roles, English National Opera, and makes debuts with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Oper Köln. Pallesen is the winner of the Giulio Gari, Sullivan Foundation, and Opera Index competitions, and is an alumnus of the Juilliard Opera Center and apprentice programs at Santa Fe Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. 

For more information and tickets, please call 202-364-5826. We look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrating Music In Our Schools Month

March in Washington is marked by many wonderful events: the end of winter and emergence of spring, the full bloom of cherry blossoms, and several WCO education and outreach programs that celebrate Music In Our Schools Month (MIOSM).

Established in 1985 by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), MIOSM is an annual celebration in the month of March that engages teachers, students, arts organizations, artists, and communities from around the country in promoting the benefits of music education. As a former middle school music teacher and professor, I knew WCO would play a role in this month-long initiative, working with students of all ages in a variety of “classrooms.”

I kicked off MIOSM by meeting with university groups visiting Washington for Americans for the Arts’ annual Arts Advocacy Day: one from Ohio State University and the other from Southern Utah University. Both groups were made up of artists and aspiring arts administrators. We discussed topics ranging from diversity in opera to new models of engagement and fundraising. To say these students impressed me with their knowledge and passion for the field is an understatement.

  Clockwise (from top left): Southern Utah University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire.

Clockwise (from top left): Southern Utah University, Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire.

A week later, I headed to New York City to work with students on a Spring Break Arts Immersion trip from the Department of Music and Theatre Arts at the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire. We spent time together discussing the fundamentals of running an opera company in today’s economic and social climates, repertoire, and arts entrepreneurship. We also enjoyed a show at the Metropolitan Opera (Donizetti’s Don Pasquale), museum visits, and an evening of jazz at Birdland--a quintessential New York weekend!

  Sporting our Papagena and Papageno masks at ITS Intersession.

Sporting our Papagena and Papageno masks at ITS Intersession.

I went back into the traditional classroom last week for a new venture with one of our partners, Inspired Teaching School, called Intersession. Intersession is a four-day program where students learn about a subject not commonly addressed in the curriculum. In collaboration with the school’s music teacher, I had the pleasure of working with kindergarten, first, and second graders learning about musicianship and opera, culminating in a performance of “Papageno! Papagena!” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute. It was a tremendous joy to work with these young musicians, and I think I found some WCO artists in the making!

The arts feed us on so many levels and fuel us in so many ways. They know no bounds and break down barriers unlike any other discipline. Opera is not only the marriage of breathtaking music and moving stories, it’s exciting, diverse, and more dynamic than ever before. I know through this year’s MIOSM activities, and other events throughout the year, WCO will continue to connect with our communities and extend our impact beyond the concert hall. 

Dr. Ursula M. Kuhar
Executive Director