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Radio

Arts Days: January 13, 1910: Turn It Up!
Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1896 invention of the radio, which was initially used by ships to communicate with stations on shore. Over a decade later, American inventor and opera lover, Lee de Forest, developed the radio receiver, bringing radio broadcasts to the public.

On this day in 1910, de Forest promoted the radio receiver by broadcasting a live performance of tenor Enrico Caruso from the Metropolitan Opera. At the time, only a small number of people owned radio receivers and could listen to the broadcast, which was sent over a telephone transmitter.
Inventions, Innovators & Pioneers, Math, Opera, Music

Marian Anderson

Arts Days: April 09, 1939: Let Freedom Sing

For more than 40 years, Marian Anderson’s supple contralto voice—lower than an alto or soprano—thrilled audiences the world over. She preferred singing in recitals to opera performance, though many opera companies tried to entice her to sing with them. However, it was the Daughters of the American Revolution’s refusal to let Anderson sing at Constitution Hall simply because of her race that set the stage for perhaps the most important concert of her career.

With an assist from President Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Anderson gave a spellbinding public performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Some 75,000 people listened live in the chilly spring air, and millions more heard Anderson sing on the radio. In 1955, reconsidering her stance on singing in operas, she became the first African American to perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Her grace and beauty—to say nothing of that remarkable voice—made Marian Anderson an important symbol of the Civil Rights Movement.

For more on this historic concert, listen to Of Thee We Sing: Marian Anderson and the Music of the Early Civil Rights Movement.


America, Music, Opera, Controversial

Eugine Onegin

2700 F St.: Eugene Onegin
Based on Alexander Pushkin’s sweeping novel, Eugene Onegin is a provocative tale of rejection and regret, exploring a society divided between rural austerity and aristocratic extravagance. Young Tatiana confesses her devotion to the worldly Onegin, but his cold refusal devastates her. Years later, when Tatiana matures, it is Onegin who begs for her love. Will Tatiana embrace the man she once longed for? Or will Onegin forever be the victim of his own bitter decision? This production, originally created for The Metropolitan Opera, is complete with lush period costumes, majestic ballroom scenes, and a deadly duel.
Europe, Opera

Faust

2700 F St.: Faust
The famous story by Goethe focuses on the aging Faust, who makes a pact with Mephistopheles. Exchanging his soul restores his youth and helps him woo Marguerite, but his troubles are far from over. Along the seductive path to riches and power, Faust realizes his salvation is tragically bound to others, including those he loves most. WNO’s production of this tale of redemption and damnation features a storybook aesthetic and a phenomenal cast.
Europe, Opera

Tosca

2700 F St.: Tosca
In love and war, what will you stand for? Puccini’s breathtaking work is a tale of political corruption and ill-fated love that amazes and captivates new and longtime opera lovers alike. In 18th-century Rome, the zealous painter Cavaradossi and singer Tosca are deeply in love. When Cavaradossi hides an escaped political prisoner, a tragic conflict unfurls. Caught between contending with the villainous chief of police and staying loyal to her lover, Tosca make take matters into her own hands—but no one is guaranteed to get out alive.
Europe, Opera

The Me I Want To Sing

2700 F St.: The Me I Want To Sing
Returning since its powerful 2017 premiere on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, this riveting two-performer show blends opera legends Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price’s most memorable performances—including opera, art songs, and more—with narrative spoken word. Created and written by Tom Minter and originally commissioned by Washington National Opera Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, the work chronicles some of the challenges these two women faced in their careers as African American singers, and highlights ongoing issues of race in America.
Opera

Silent Night

2700 F St.: Silent Night
Based on the true story of a wartime ceasefire, Silent Night makes its WNO premiere in the centennial month of World War I’s end. The year is 1914 and the Great War has just been declared, dividing nations and sending millions into battle. As Christmas Eve falls on a battlefield near Belgium, soldiers in French, German, and Scottish trenches begin recalling songs of home, stepping into no-man’s-land for a spontaneous truce. Once sworn enemies, they trade their weapons for merriment and camaraderie—resulting in one miraculous night of peace.
The Human Journey, Europe, Opera, History

La Traviata

2700 F St.: La Traviata: WNO Open Rehearsal
Including everything from the famous brindisi drinking song to heartbreaking arias, La traviata is one of the most beloved operas ever written. Violetta, a courtesan, is the life of every party. But she holds a devastating secret: she is sick and dying. When she meets the affluent Alfredo, happily-ever-after seems within reach— until his father condemns Violetta’s low social status. Now she must make an impossible choice before death claims her. This everlasting story of love and sacrifice captures Violetta’s unforgettable plight and illuminates tensions of social class that ring just as true today.
Europe, Opera

Alcina

2700 F St.: Alcina: Washington National Opera Open Rehearsal
Welcome to the island of illusions, where Alcina, a beautiful sorceress, turns her lovers into wild beasts or stone when she tires of them. When the dashing knight Ruggiero is in her clutches, his fiancée Bradamante takes on a daring disguise to free her beloved and break the curse. But is Alcina finally falling for the man of her dreams? In this cruel paradise, can anyone tell what is real?
Opera, Backstage

The Little Prince

2700 F St.: The Little Prince: Washington National Opera Open Rehearsal
A young boy sets out on a quest across the cosmos to find new companionship after leaving his tiny home planet, where he spent his days protecting his only friend, a rose, from miniature volcanoes and ravenous baobab trees. Along the way, he meets fascinating intergalactic inhabitants, including a delusional king, a rich businessman, and a wearied lamplighter. Eventually, he meets a pilot on Earth who has crash-landed in the Sahara. The two become unlikely friends, learning lessons from the desert’s many creatures until the prince realizes just how special his rose really is.
Opera, Backstage, Young Artists, Literature

Dead Man Walking

2700 F St.: Washington National Opera: Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking was inspired by the writings of Sister Helen Prejean, an author and activist whose accounts of her interactions with death row inmates provided the basis for an award-winning film in 1995.
Opera, Controversial

Madam Butterfly

2700 F St.: Washington National Opera: Madame Butterfly
Madame Butterfly is a story of East meets West. Many of its characters get into serious and irreversible trouble when they fail (or refuse) to understand the differences between Japanese and American cultures.
Opera, Tragedy, Japan

WNO The Marriage of Figaro - Amanda Majeski as The Countess - photo by Todd Rosenberg

2700 F St.: Washington National Opera's The Marriage of Figaro
This is a story about one happy couple that just wants to get married and one unhappy couple that’s already married… and not doing so well.
Opera, Composers, Music, Music Legends, Europe

Washington National Opera: Daughter of the Regiment

2700 F St.: Washington National Opera: Daughter of the Regiment
Young and beautiful Marie was found as a baby near a French regiment camp. And today she lives her life as the regiment’s resident mascot, singing songs and boosting morale wherever she goes.
Opera, Europe, Comedy

The Little Prince

Cuesheet: The Little Prince
A young boy sets out on a quest across the cosmos to find new companionship after leaving his tiny home planet, where he spent his days protecting his only friend, a rose, from miniature volcanoes and ravenous baobab trees. Along the way, he meets fascinating intergalactic inhabitants, including a delusional king, a rich businessman, and a wearied lamplighter. Eventually, he meets a pilot on Earth who has crash-landed in the Sahara. The two become unlikely friends, learning lessons from the desert’s many creatures until the prince realizes just how special his rose really is.
Opera, Literature

Aida

Cuesheet: WNO Look-In: Aida
Theater, music, and dance come together in this introduction to opera and Verdi’s Aida, one of the world’s most famous operas. At this Look-In, students hear amazing performances; see demonstrations of behind-the scenes technology, lighting, and stagecraft; and get a glimpse into the many careers available in stage performance, both onstage and behind the curtains.
Opera, Backstage

WNO Opera Look-in: The Marriage of Figaro

Cuesheet: WNO Look-In: The Marriage of Figaro
Theater, music, and dance come together in this introduction to Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, one of the world’s most popular operas.
Opera, Backstage, Europe

Performance Guide: The Magic Flute: Opera Look-In
Theater and music come together in this introduction to opera and "The Magic Flute," one of the world's most beloved operas. A whimsical production designed by children's author/illustrator Maurice Sendak sets a playful landscape for this enchanting fairy tale. Join handsome prince Tamino and his silly sidekick Papageno as they set out on a fantastic journey to rescue the kidnapped Pamina in this special opera exploration. At this Look-In, students hear amazing performances; see demonstrations of behind-the-scenes technology, lighting, and stagecraft; and get a glimpse into the many careers available in stage performance, both onstage and behind the curtains.
Opera

Performance Guide: The Magic Flute
Friends will become foes and enemies will become allies in Mozart's final and beloved opera, a whimsical production designed by children's author/illustrator Maurice Sendak. This quest for love and truth is rich with unforgettable vocal acrobatics, evocative symbols and allegory, and colorful characters such as a handsome young prince, a silly bird-catching sidekick, and a mysterious Queen of the Night.
Backstage, Opera

Performance Guide: Otello
As a raging storm breaks on Cyprus, the governor Otello returns victorious from battle. But there is another storm brewing. Iago, Otello’s ensign, launches a malicious scheme to lead his chief to believe his wife Desdemona is unfaithful. As Iago’s manipulations decay Otello’s trust in those he loves, the great hero will confront his most fatal enemy: his own jealousy. Verdi’s monumental retelling of Shakespeare’s masterpiece offers a psychological medium to explore good and evil, as well as the downfall of a celebrated leader.
Backstage, Opera

La Traviata

Cuesheet: Opera Look-In: La traviata
At this Look-In, students hear amazing performances; see demonstrations of behind-the-scenes technology, lighting, and stagecraft; and get a glimpse into the many careers available in stage performance, both onstage and behind the curtains.
Opera, Tragedy, Europe, Backstage

The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me

Cuesheet: WNO Open Rehearsal: The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me
Based on the award-winning children’s book by Jeanette Winterson, this heartwarming production returns with whimsical costumes, music from a Tony®-award winning composer, and a talented cast featuring the Domingo- Cafritz Young Artists and the WNO Children’s Chorus.
Animals, Literature, Opera

Moby-Dick Opera Look-In

Cuesheet: WNO Look-In: Moby-Dick
Get a special, insider’s peek behind the curtains of Moby-Dick, a new opera of Herman Melville’s 19th-century literary masterwork.
Opera, Backstage, Literature

Washington National Opera: The Elixir of Love

Cuesheet: WNO Working Rehearsal: Elixir of Love
You can’t make someone love you. Or can you? The hero of this famous comic opera believes he might be able to pull off the impossible with a little magic.
Opera, Backstage

Washington National Opers: Moby Dick

Cuesheet: WNO Working Rehearsal: Moby-Dick
Hoist sail, raise anchor, and join the hunt for the great white whale! Experience a musical journey of Herman Melville’s epic tale of obsession, madness, and death-defying adventure.
Opera, Backstage, Literature

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