Theatre and Opera

Theater-goers in Richmond will witness an unusual theater production tonight. Actors will stage a show not seen since 1811 – a performance that ended with a deadly fire.

It was the day after Christmas, 1811, and patrons of the Richmond Theater were treated to a comedy – Father of the Family.

Then came a drama called Raymond and Agnes or the Bleeding Nun.

“The chandelier was lowered for the end of act one.”

Many operas are set in Europe – sung in Italian or German, but the Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville plans to bring the art form closer to home with a performance of Susannah -- a story set in Appalachia. 

Susannah is a role prized by sopranos like Renee Flemming, who performed it at the Met.  Critics described composer Carlisle Floyd as the American Pucini for the passionate lyrics and music he wrote.  He tells the story of a beautiful woman who lives in a small town – New Hope Valley, Tennessee.  She sings of her longing to leave and make something of her life.

Virginia Tech

The curtain rises next month in Blacksburg on a new ‘state of the art,’ Center For the Arts at Virginia Tech.  They’re busy putting on the finishing touches and getting ready for opening night. 

When the weather gets warmer, some people start thinking of higher elevations - like the ski resort Wintergreen which is now hosting a festival of music, art, wine and food. 
 
Wintergreen Performing Arts will offer 232 events in 28 days, including Saturday and Sunday concerts by the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, conducted by Mei-Ann Chen and Joseph Caballe-Domenech.  
There will also be 24 pop-up concerts by 31 young musicians who will play outside Chroma on Charlottesville’s downtown mall -- and in the produce department.

Suri Xia

It’s no secret that opera in America is struggling.  In 2008, only eight percent of adults said they liked opera, and only two percent had been to one in the past year, but here in Virginia that could be changing thanks to summer programs designed to build the base for opera.

It’s not unusual for opera goers to give long and enthusiastic ovations – for cast members to take bow after bow, but people who love this complex art form fear their audience may not always be there.

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