Francesca Zambello to Washington National Opera

Exciting News for Opera Lovers

By: - Sep 13, 2012


Washington National Opera (WNO) has named Francesca Zambello as its Artistic Director, effective January 1, 2013. She has served as the company’s Artistic Advisor since June 2011.

As Artistic Director, Ms. Zambello will have responsibility for the company’s artistic vision and direction, including repertoire and casting. She will work in close collaboration with Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser, WNO Executive Director Michael L. Mael, and WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin to further the company’s long history of artistic excellence. She will also oversee the artistic growth of the company’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and will guide the future of the American Opera Initiative, WNO’s new American opera commissioning program. She will continue to direct one production each season.

“Cesca is both a brilliant director and a highly effective administrator,” said WNO Board Chairman Jacqueline B. Mars. “Her stature in the international opera community enhances the company and I have great confidence that she will take WNO in a positive direction.”

“It will be an enormous pleasure and honor to expand my role with WNO as its Artistic Director, maintaining the high standards set by my predecessors and leading WNO into the future,” said Ms. Zambello. “I will respect what appeals to our long-time patrons and supporters while at the same time work hard to attract new audiences to opera. I look forward to raising the profile of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, continuing the great work already underway with the American Opera Initiative, and highlighting special and unique repertoire and artists that only the intimacy of the Kennedy Center affords us. This is a challenge I embrace unequivocally, and I look forward to sharing more of my plans in the coming months.”

“Francesca Zambello will bring much passion and vision to WNO in her expanded role as Artistic Director,” stated Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser. “Her deep commitment to WNO’s mission, its legacy of rich artistic programming, and its outreach and education initiatives will help bring WNO to a new level of artistic achievement.”
Francesca Zambello has established herself as one of the boldest names in opera. She has enjoyed a storied career as both an opera director and an arts administrator and has an extensive history of success with WNO. She has directed numerous productions for WNO and will direct her new production of Show Boat in May 2013. As previously announced, she will bring her much-admired Ring cycle back to Washington in the spring of 2016. She also serves as the Artistic and General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York, where she recently directed an acclaimed production of Aida.

Francesca Zambello has served as WNO’s Artistic Advisor since 2011. She has directed many WNO productions, including Of Mice and Men (debut in 2001), Fidelio (2003), Die Walküre (2003 and 2007), Billy Budd (2004), Porgy and Bess (2005 and 2010), Das Rheingold (2006), Siegfried (2009), and Salome (2010). Since September 2010 she has also been the Artistic and General Director of the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York.

An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Zambello’s work has been seen at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Royal Opera House, Munich State Opera, Paris Opera, New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and English National Opera. She has staged plays and musicals on Broadway, at the Royal National Theatre, BAM, the Guthrie Theater, Vienna’s Raimund Theater, the Bregenz Festival, Sydney Festival, Disneyland, Berlin’s Theater des Westens, and at the Kennedy Center.

She began her career as the Artistic Director of the Skylight Opera Theatre and as an assistant director to the late Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. She has been a guest lecturer at Harvard, Juilliard, and Yale. An American who grew up in Europe, she speaks French, Italian, German, and Russian. She is a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.

She most recently developed and directed the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis' Heart of a Soldier for San Francisco Opera, where she served as Artistic Advisor from 2006-2011. Her acclaimed production of Show Boat opened at Lyric Opera of Chicago in February 2012 and will open at WNO on May 4, 2013. Other recent directing highlights include a new production of La traviata for Opera on Sydney Harbor in March 2012 and a new production of Aida at the Glimmerglass Festival in July 2012.
She has been awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture, and the Russian Federation’s medal for Service to Culture. Her theatrical honors include three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, two French Grand Prix des Critiques, Helpmann Award, Green Room Award, Palme d’Or in Germany, and the Golden Mask in Russia.

Washington National Opera (WNO) is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. Founded in 1956 and now an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the company boasts numerous artistic highlights, including world premieres, commissioning of new works and new productions, international tours, and performances by some of opera’s most admired artists. WNO productions have been heard around the world, through radio and television broadcasts on WETA-FM, NPR, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and PBS, as well as through audio and video recordings.

This season, WNO launches the American Opera Initiative, a comprehensive new commissioning program that brings contemporary American stories to the stage while fostering and developing the talents of new American composers and librettists. WNO contributes to the future of opera through two other signature artist-development programs: the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is a leading resident-training program for artists on the verge of international careers, and the WNO Opera Institute nurtures the ambitions of high-school-age singers and pianists from across the nation during an intensive three-week summer program.

WNO’s education and access initiatives include year-round programs in public schools throughout the region; Generation O, a popular discount-ticket initiative for young people; and a variety of lectures and discussions for every production on the season calendar. Among the most popular of WNO’s community programs is Opera in the Outfield, which brings free, live simulcasts of opera to Nationals Park for thousands of opera fans as well as new audiences.
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