The Music of Budapest, Prague and Vienna

Classic Arts Features   The Music of Budapest, Prague and Vienna
Feb. 25–Mar. 29, the Kennedy Center hosts a festival featuring performances from the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera, Prague Philharmonia, Christoph Eschenbach with Matthias Goerne, Katona József Theatre, and many others.


Washington National Opera
What determines true love? Is it faithfulness or simply circumstance? Find out in Washington National Opera’s presentation of the whimsical Così fan tutte by Viennese composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Feb. 25–Mar. 15 in the Opera House.

In this wry tale, two young men place a bet on fidelity, putting the women they love to the test through deception and seduction… What could possibly go wrong? The men pretend to go off to war but return in disguise, each intent on seducing the other’s lady. But when the women don’t react as expected, a lesson in tempting fate is learned by all, and the fickle nature of love is revealed in this sometimes farcical, sometimes unsettling comedy.

Acclaimed director Jonathan Miller’s modern-dress production, “a compelling piece of music theater, wonderful in its delineation of Mozart’s mix of comedy and psychological pain” (The Guardian), captures the essence of Washington, DC, with a stunning ensemble including Elizabeth Futral, Renata Pokupic, Joel Prieto, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, William Shimell, and Christine Brandes. WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin conducts Mozart’s score, packed with biting comedy and poignant beauty.

Performed in Italian with English supertitles. Casting for performances on Mar. 9 & 11 features members and alumni of the Domingo- Cafritz Young Artist Program. These performances are part of WNO’s ongoing access initiative to introduce new artists to Washington and new audiences to the Opera.

On Mar. 10, see the magic of opera come to life with members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the WNO Orchestra. The Family Look-In focusing on Così fan tutte is a perfect introduction to opera for children ages 6-12 and their families.

Series O Lecture: Free pre-performance lecture in the Opera House especially designed for Generation O members and open to all Così ticket holders on Mar. 2 at 6:15 p.m. Patrons must present a ticket or stub from any performance of this production.

Artist Q&As follow the performances on Mar. 4, 11, & 12.

O-Zone Lecture: Free pre-performance lecture in the Opera House on Mar. 15 at 6:15 p.m. Patrons must present a ticket or stub from any performance of this production.

National Symphony Orchestra
The National Symphony Orchestra expands its offerings to two programs per week in the Concert Hall for the festival, featuring music for each of the three cities. During Budapest week, the Orchestra, conducted by NSO and Kennedy Center Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, performs Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin—Suite and Bluebeard’s Castle with bass-baritone Matthias Goerne and mezzosoprano Michelle DeYoung on Mar. 8 & 10.

The Thursday, Mar. 8 performance is followed by a free AfterWords discussion with Christoph Eschenbach, Michelle DeYoung, and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon. The Mar. 9 program includes Bartók’s Dance Suite, Romanian Folk Dances, and The Miraculous Mandarin—Suite; Kodály’s Dances of Galánta; and Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz No. 1. For Vienna week, the NSO features two special programs conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.

A concert version of Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio—which premiered in Vienna in 1805—features soprano Melanie Diener as Leonore, tenor Simon O’Neill as Florestan, bass Eric Halfvarson as Rocco, bass Tomasz Konieczny as Don Pizarro, singers from WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, and The Choral Arts Society of Washington is on Mar. 15 & 17.

The Thursday, Mar. 15 performance is followed by a free AfterWords discussion with Christoph Eschenbach, special guests, and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon. The Mar. 16 program includes the music of Johann Strauss Jr. and Josef Strauss. During Prague week, the NSO, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, performs Dvořák’s Stabat Mater with soprano Anne Schwanewilms, mezzo-soprano Nathalie Stutzmann, tenor Steve Davislim, bass Robert Holl, and The Washington Chorus on Mar. 22 & 24. The Thursday, Mar. 22 performance is followed by a free AfterWords discussion with Christoph Eschenbach, special guests, and NSO Director of Artistic Planning Nigel Boon.

On Mar. 23, the Orchestra plays a program that includes Dvořák’s Serenade in D minor and Serenade in E major, and Janáček’s Capriccio and Concertino.

Fortas Chamber Music Concerts
A renowned Schubert interpreter, pianist Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director of the Kennedy Center and NSO, makes his Fortas debut on Mar. 5 in the Terrace Theater, renewing his partnership with baritone Matthias Goerne in Schubert’s magnificent song cycle Winterreise, 24 songs to poems of Wilhelm Müller. When Matthias Goerne was nearly six, he first heard Winterreise and was captivated; so captivated, in fact, that he committed all 24 songs to memory.

Named “one of the emerging Chinese international artists today” by Gramophone magazine, Dan Zhu is quickly gaining world recognition. He performs regularly in North America, Europe, and Asia, and has appeared as soloist with orchestras around the world. Together, Maestro Eschenbach on piano and Dan Zhu play a recital of Mozart violin sonatas Mar. 12 in the Terrace Theater.

Budapest’s Takács Quartet plays with a unique blend of drama, warmth and humor, combining four distinct musical personalities to bring fresh insights to the string quartet repertoire. Gramophone magazine notes, “The Takács have the ability to make you believe that there’s no other possible way the music should go, and the strength to overturn preconceptions that comes only with the greatest performers.” For their Fortas debut on Mar. 13 in the Terrace Theater, they bring a program of quartets by Schubert and Bartók, plus Beethoven’s staggering Opus 131.

The young and ambitious Eben Trio makes their U.S. debut on Mar. 29 in the Terrace Theater with a program that begins with Fiala’s Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. The trio “has already achieved an admirable mastery of the great musical literature and plays extremely well together,” says the Ostseezeitung Rügen, praising their interpretation of Dvořák’s “Dumki” trio as “particularly convincing.” The “Dumki,” that most Czech of all compositions, is joined on this All-Czech program with Smetana’s heart-wrenching Trio, written after the loss of his child.

Prague Philharmonia
Founded in 1994 by world renowned conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, the Prague Philharmonia, one of the top Czech orchestras, performs Janáček’s Suite for Strings, Voříšek’s Symphony in D major, and the Overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni on Mar. 20 in the Eisenhower Theater. The 48-member orchestra plays with “warmth, deep feeling, and swinging rhythmic energy” (All Music Guide).

Katona József Theatre
One of Hungary’s most well-respected theater companies, Katona József Theatre performs Gypsies Mar. 15–17 in the Eisenhower Theater. Music, specifically on the violin, has long been an integral part of Gypsy culture. Gypsies touches on the lives of Gypsy musicians, namely violinist Dani, who becomes involved in a fatal love triangle. The play combines text from the original 1931 version with a contemporary version of the story to chronicle the love, tensions, and conflicts that arise among Gypsies and Hungarians coexisting in the Hungarian countryside. Performed in Hungarian, with English supertitles. On Mar. 15, join a free post-performance discussion with a moderator and members of the company.

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