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.
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.
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.
Some Roanoke County high school students are learning first-hand what it means to be disabled, as they portray adults with physical and mental limitations in an upcoming play.
Glenvar High theater students tackled the sensitive subject of Alzheimer’s several years ago, with a production of “My Father’s War”. Now they’re challenging society’s view of the mentally disabled in “The Boys Next Door”. It chronicles the lives of four men living in a group home.