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The Washington National Opera (WNO) is an opera company in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, USA. Formerly the Opera Society of Washington and the Washington Opera, the company received Congressional designation as the National Opera Company in 2000. Performances are now given in the Opera House
Opera house
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building...

 of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C...

.

Opera in Washington, DC had become established after World War I and it did flourish for a time as the Washington National Opera Association until the Depression and World War Two years, and into the 1960s in various outdoor opera venues. However, with the establishment of the "The Opera Society of Washington" in 1956/7, the way was laid for a company to function in the city, especially after the opening of the Kennedy Center in 1971 and its move there in 1979.

After making initial appearances with the company from 1986 onwards, tenor Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo
Plácido Domingo KBE , born José Plácido Domingo Embil, is a Spanish tenor and conductor known for his versatile and strong voice, possessing a ringing and dramatic tone throughout its range...

 took over as general director in 1996, a post which he still holds.

The Opera Society of Washington



The Washington National Opera was established in 1957 as the Opera Society of Washington by Day Thorpe, the music critic of the now defunct Washington Star, but then the most influential Washington newspaper of its day. Paul Callaway
Paul Callaway
Paul Smith Callaway was a prominent American organist and choral conductor, particularly well-known for his thirty-eight years at the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., between 1939–1977...

, the choirmaster and organist of the Washington National Cathedral
Washington National Cathedral
The Washington National Cathedral, officially named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church located in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. Of neogothic design, it is the sixth-largest cathedral in the world, the second-largest in...

, was its first music director. Together, the two set out to seek funding and they found support from Gregory and Peggy Smith who provided $10,000 as seed money for a production of Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
Die Entführung aus dem Serail is an opera Singspiel in three acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The German libretto is by Christoph Friedrich Bretzner with adaptations by Gottlieb Stephanie...

which would be performed following the end of their summer season (which Calloway conducted) by the Washington Symphony Orchestra.

Characteristic of Thorpe and Calloway's early years was a rejection of cuts to the scores, a rejection of opera in English, and a rejection of expensive scenery as well as of "fat sopranos" and "self-centered tenors".

The pair set out to seek a new public and, beginning with the first production of Die Entführung on 31 January 1957, the company presented opera in George Washington University
George Washington University
The George Washington University is a private, coeducational comprehensive university located in Washington, D.C. in the United States...

's Lisner Auditorium, albeit a small venue with limited facilities. However, as one critic noted: "There was no 'company' in the literal sense. Each production had to be conceived, planned, and arranged individually, and financial support had to be scraped up opera by opera. Improvisation was the order of the day".

The early years, 1956 to 1966


Four months later, the Society staged a double bill of Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, among about two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular...

's opera The Old Maid and the Thief
The Old Maid and the Thief
The Old Maid and the Thief is an opera in one act by Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti. The work uses an English language libretto by the composer which tells a twisted tale of morals and evil womanly power...

along with his ballet The Unicorn, The Gorgon, and the Manticore. It was very successful with both the public and critics alike. Successful presentations followed from November 1957 onwards: Fidelio
Fidelio
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...

; Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Bringing together slapstick comedy and consuming beautiful music, the opera's theme is the competition between high and low art for the public's attention.- First version :The opera was originally...

; Idomeneo
Idomeneo
Idomeneo, re di Creta ossia Ilia e Idamante is an Italian language opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was adapted by Giambattista Varesco from a French text by Antoine Danchet, which had been set to music by André Campra as Idoménée in 1712...

; a double bill of Schoenberg's Erwartung
Erwartung
Erwartung , Op.17 is a one-act opera by Arnold Schoenberg to a libretto by Marie Pappenheim. Composed in 1909, it was not premiered until June 6, 1924 in Prague conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky with Marie Gutheil-Schoder as the soprano. The work takes the unusual form of a monologue for solo...

and Stravinsky's Le Rossignol (conducted by the composer); and a December 1961 The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

which resulted in an invitation from President John Kennedy at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 for some excerpts from the opera.

By this time, the attention of the national press had been caught. A December 1958 Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

full page article on the company was headlined "Sparkle on the Potomac" and Howard Taubman of the New York Times visited regularly followed by headlines reading "Capital Revival" and "Sparkle on the Potomac"

However, there was not always such clear sailing, and the company was to experience a series of ups and downs in the first few years of the 1960s. Initially, there was further success: bringing Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 to Washington was the work of Bliss Herbert, then the Artistic Administrator of the Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe Opera
The Santa Fe Opera is an American opera company, located north of Santa Fe in the U.S. state of New Mexico, headquartered on a former guest ranch of .-General history:...

 who had been involved in that company's early years when the composer regularly visited Santa Fe. However, the first Stravinsky production - The Rake's Progress
The Rake's Progress
The Rake's Progress is an opera in three acts and an epilogue by Igor Stravinsky. The libretto, written by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, is based loosely on the eight paintings and engravings A Rake's Progress of William Hogarth, which Stravinsky had seen on May 2, 1947, in a Chicago...

- was "the most "ill-starred" opera in the Society's history", largely the result of singers' illnesses. But a later double bill of Stravinsky conducting Le Rossignol (along with Schoenberg's Erwartung
Erwartung
Erwartung , Op.17 is a one-act opera by Arnold Schoenberg to a libretto by Marie Pappenheim. Composed in 1909, it was not premiered until June 6, 1924 in Prague conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky with Marie Gutheil-Schoder as the soprano. The work takes the unusual form of a monologue for solo...

) was a triumph.

However, as the 1960s progressed, further disasters were to follow. These included "a fiasco of unforgivable proportions", an English-language The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

which caused Paul Callaway's resignation. Some drastic measures were called for.

Changes in direction, 1966 to 1977


Three new faces were to bring "imagination and flair to the company" during the period up to 1977 and, by that date, another new face made a short but dramatic appearance in the company's history: bass-baritone George London
George London
George London may be:*George London , Canadian operatic bass-baritone*George London *Sir George Ernest London, of the Newfoundland Commission of Government...

 became General Manager.

Taking over a General Manager in 1967 was Richard Pearlman
Richard Pearlman
Richard Pearlman was an American theatre and opera director and educator known for his encyclopedic knowledge on every aspect of opera from stage direction to makeup....

 under whose tenure were staged well-received productions of The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw is a novella written by Henry James. Originally published in 1898, it is ostensibly a ghost story.Due to its ambiguous content, it became a favourite text of academics who subscribe to New Criticism. The novella has had differing interpretations, often mutually exclusive...

, La bohème
La bohème
La bohème is an opera in four acts,Puccini called the divisions quadro, a tableau or "image", rather than atto . by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger...

, and the first production of Barber's Vanessa
Vanessa (opera)
Vanessa is an opera in three acts by Samuel Barber with an original English libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti. It was composed in 1956–1957 and was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 15, 1958 under the baton of Dimitri Mitropoulos in a production designed by...

. By 1972 Ian Strasfogel, with considerable experience from working at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

, took over the helm with the aim of giving it a "businesslike foundation" "it never had in its sixteen years, in spite of the excellent productions it has often achieved".

One early success was a production of Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...

's Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is a political-satirical opera composed by Kurt Weill to a German libretto by Bertolt Brecht. It was first performed in Leipzig on 9 March 1930.-Composition history:...

with the composer's widow, Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya
Lotte Lenya was an Austrian singer, diseuse, and actress. In the German-speaking and classical music world she is best remembered for her performances of the songs of her husband, Kurt Weill. In English-language film she is remembered for her Academy Award-nominated role in The Roman Spring of Mrs...

, in attendance. She described it as "the best production she has ever seen". Other significant productions followed, but, in summing up Strasfogel's success, author Mary Jane Phillips-Matz concludes that "his main achievement, though, was his artistic oversight, for by the mid-1970s critics were regularly covering the Opera Society's extraordinary programming and grants were coming in from important foundations."

During this period of the 1970s another person was to enter the scene, stage director Frank Rizzo
Frank Rizzo
Francis Lazarro "Frank" Rizzo, Sr. was an American police officer and politician. He served two terms as mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from January 1972 to January 1980; he was Police Commissioner for four years prior to that.-Police Commissioner:Rizzo joined the Philadelphia Police...

. There followed a stunning Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly
Madama Butterfly is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story "Madame Butterfly" by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco...

and other important productions and his association with the company continued into the 1980s with his introduction in 1984 of the Canadian Opera Company
Canadian Opera Company
The Canadian Opera Company is an opera company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the largest opera company in Canada and the third largest producer of opera in North America. The COC performs in its own opera house, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.-History:For 40 years until...

's surtitles
Surtitles
Surtitles, also known as supertitles, are translated or transcribed lyrics/dialogue projected above a stage or displayed on a screen, commonly used in opera or other musical performances. The word "surtitle" comes from the French language "sur", meaning "over" or "on", and the English language word...

 system, whereby an English translation appeared above the proscenium arch.

Also while under Strasfogel's tenure, the Opera Society made its move into the newly-opened Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1972. This was to have a profound impact on the company, especially since George London, after retirement from the stage, became Artistic Administrator at the Kennedy Center until its 1971 opening and then Executive Director of the Nation Opera Institute. He directed a production of Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...

for the opera company in 1974 and was courted to become General Director for the 1977 season.

Under George London, 1977


In addition to running a fiscally sound company with packed houses, its deficit reduced by two-thirds, and exciting productions such as the city's first Thaïs
Thaïs (opera)
Thaïs is an opera in three acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet based on the novel Thaïs by Anatole France. It was first performed at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on 16 March 1894, starring the American soprano Sybil Sanderson, for whom Massenet had written the title role...

in 1976, another of George London's major achievements was the renaming of the company, first announced in The Washington Post on 13 May 1977. As described by Phillips-Matz, "at this point in the company's history, the programming was smart, varied, and exciting" but progress was suddenly brought to a halt by the July 1977 heart attack suffered by George London. He was never able to return to the company, but his legacy was "by giving it a new name, a fresh image, and a lot of heft, he brought the company into the national and international opera scene and put it on the road to top rank of producing organizations."

Under Martin Feinstein, 1980 to 1996


Martin Feinstein succeeded London as General Director from 1980 to 1995 and "spent the next 16 years luring artists of the stature of Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti was an Italian-American composer and librettist. Although he often referred to himself as an American composer, he kept his Italian citizenship. He wrote the classic Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, among about two dozen other operas intended to appeal to popular...

 (who directed La Boheme), Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim
Daniel Barenboim, KBE is an Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor. He has served as music director of several major symphonic and operatic orchestras and made numerous recordings....

 (who conducted Cosi Fan Tutte) and Placido Domingo (who debuted in Washington in 1986 with Menotti's Goya " Feinstein brought in many young singers long before their first appearances at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

. His initiative began a Washington Opera tradition of cultivating young talent. Singers nurtured through the program include Jerry Hadley
Jerry Hadley
Jerry Hadley was an American operatic tenor. He received three Grammy awards for his vocal performances in the recordings of Jenůfa , Susannah , and Candide...

 and Denyce Graves
Denyce Graves
Denyce Graves is an American mezzo-soprano opera singer.-Early life:Graves was born on March 7, 1964, to Charles Graves and Dorothy Graves-Kenner. She is the middle of three children and was raised by her mother on Galveston Street, S.W., in the Bellevue section of Washington...

, while in 1992, he brought recently retired Berlin State Opera maestro Heinz Fricke
Heinz Fricke
Heinz Fricke is a German maestro and was the principal conductor of the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C. He was appointed as music director in 1993. Before joining the Washington National Opera, he held the position of music director of the Staatsoper Berlin, and the Den Norske Opera...

 to the Washington Opera as music director.

During Feinstein's tenure, he greatly increased the number of performances per season, which had a phenomenal effect on ticket sales (the audience reportedly grew from 32,000 to more than 100,000).

The tenure of Plácido Domingo, 1996 to 2011



Plácido Domingo, the Spanish tenor
Tenor
The tenor is a type of male singing voice and is the highest male voice within the modal register. The typical tenor voice lies between C3, the C one octave below middle C, to the A above middle C in choral music, and up to high C in solo work. The low extreme for tenors is roughly B2...

 and conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

, has served as the company's General Director since 1996. Domingo began an affiliation with the Opera company in 1986, when he appeared in its world premiere production of Menotti's Goya, followed by performances in a production of Tosca
Tosca
Tosca is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It premiered at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome on 14 January 1900...

in the 1988/89 season. Maestro Domingo celebrated ten years as the Opera's General Director on July 1, 2006 and his contract has been extended through the 2010-2011 season. Parallel to Domingo's management of the company, he has been general manager of the Los Angeles Opera
Los Angeles Opera
The Los Angeles Opera is an opera company in Los Angeles, California. It is the fourth largest opera company in the United States. The company's home base is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, part of the Los Angeles Music Center.-Current leadership:...

 since 2001.

"The American Ring"


The Washington National Opera originally announced plans to perform Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

, a cycle of four operas by Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

, entitled The American Ring, in November 2009. However, in early November 2008 in view of the nation's economic collapse, the company announced that the full cycle had been postponed. While the first three operas of the tetralogy
Tetralogy
A tetralogy is a compound work that is made up of four distinct works, just as a trilogy is made up of three works....

 have already been produced during the previous WNO seasons (Das Rheingold
Das Rheingold
is the first of the four operas that constitute Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen . It was originally written as an introduction to the tripartite Ring, but the cycle is now generally regarded as consisting of four individual operas.Das Rheingold received its premiere at the National Theatre...

in 2006, Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...

in 2007, and Siegfried
Siegfried (opera)
Siegfried is the third of the four operas that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner. It received its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 16 August 1876, as part of the first complete performance of The Ring...

in 2009), the fourth opera, Götterdämmerung
Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

, was given in a concert performance in November 2009.

Seasons which have included important new or unusual operas


During the 2007/08 season, WNO produced three rarely-staged operas: William Bolcom
William Bolcom
William Elden Bolcom is an American composer and pianist. He has received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Medal of Arts, two Grammy Awards, the Detroit Music Award and was named 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America. Bolcom taught composition at the University of Michigan from 1973–2008...

's A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller that was first staged on September 29, 1955 as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this...

, G.F. Handel's Tamerlano
Tamerlano
Tamerlano is an opera in three acts written for the Royal Academy of Music , with music by George Frideric Handel to an Italian text by Nicola Francesco Haym, adapted from Agostin Piovene's Tamerlano together with another libretto entitled Bajazet after Nicolas Pradon's Tamerlan, ou La Mort de...

, and Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

' Elektra
Elektra (opera)
Elektra is a one-act opera by Richard Strauss, to a German-language libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, which he adapted from his 1903 drama Elektra. The opera was the first of many collaborations between Strauss and Hofmannsthal...

. During the following season Gaetano Donizetti
Gaetano Donizetti
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti was an Italian composer from Bergamo, Lombardy. His best-known works are the operas L'elisir d'amore , Lucia di Lammermoor , and Don Pasquale , all in Italian, and the French operas La favorite and La fille du régiment...

's Lucrezia Borgia
Lucrezia Borgia (opera)
Lucrezia Borgia is a melodramma, or opera, in a prologue and two acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Felice Romani wrote the Italian libretto after the play by Victor Hugo, in its turn after the legend of Lucrezia Borgia. Lucrezia Borgia was first performed on 26 December 1833 at La Scala, Milan with...

and Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to...

's Peter Grimes
Peter Grimes
Peter Grimes is an opera by Benjamin Britten, with a libretto adapted by Montagu Slater from the Peter Grimes section of George Crabbe's poem The Borough...

were given, while the
2009-2010 season featured Richard Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos
Ariadne auf Naxos is an opera by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Bringing together slapstick comedy and consuming beautiful music, the opera's theme is the competition between high and low art for the public's attention.- First version :The opera was originally...

and Ambroise Thomas
Ambroise Thomas
Charles Louis Ambroise Thomas was a French composer, best known for his operas Mignon and Hamlet and as Director of the Conservatoire de Paris from 1871 till his death.-Biography:"There is good music, there is bad music, and then there is Ambroise Thomas."- Emmanuel Chabrier-Early life...

' Hamlet
Hamlet (opera)
Hamlet is an opéra in five acts by the French composer Ambroise Thomas, with a libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier based on a French adaptation by Alexandre Dumas, père and Paul Meurice of Shakespeare's play Hamlet.- Ophelia mania in Paris:...

. As an add-on performance to the same season, Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Götterdämmerung
Götterdämmerung
is the last in Richard Wagner's cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen...

was performed in concert.

Kennedy Center takes over Washington National Opera from 1 July 2011


With the planned departure of Placido Domingo as General Director at the end of the 2010/11 season and the mounting deficit of $12 million, it was announced that the Kennedy Center would take over control of the opera company effective on 1 July 2011.

In the announcement, Kennedy Center President, Michael Kaiser
Michael Kaiser
Michael M. Kaiser is president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.Dubbed "the turnaround king" for his work at such arts institutions as the Kansas City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre and the Royal Opera House, Kaiser has...

 (who formerly ran the Royal Opera House
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

in London) saw cost and personnel savings, plus other advantages in the take-over:
"In addition to using the Kennedy Center's opera house, Kaiser said he envisions using some of the facility's other performance spaces for smaller or newer operas that might not sell as many tickets. And he wants to expand the Kennedy Center's curatorial role by presenting the work of other companies, domestic and international. "I would like to bring in some really good avant-garde opera from abroad," Kaiser said in an interview this week. He expects that the company will increase its productions, back to seven or eight a year. "I am optimistic that at least by the end of my tenure, four years from now, you'll see a season that's more robust," he said."

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