Francesca Zambello at Glimmerglass
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Energetic Glimmerglass Candide (James Sohre, Opera Today)

"Director Francesca Zambello has wisely chosen to stage it as a Broadway show, and she has invested the proceedings with all her trademark invention and pacing. Ms. Zambello has an excellent team of Young Artists at her disposal and she shows off the depth of the roster with skill and affection. Francesa filled the stage with enough good ideas for about 10 shows, and all of them were welcome. She set the tone brilliantly during the second half of the overture, with a clown car effect in which a theatrical trunk was placed center stage and performers kept climbing out of it, as dust covers were removed from other set pieces revealing half clad actors who scamper up stairs, and clamber onto ladders to make a final pose at the close of the famous overture. What a witty, Cirque de So Gay start to the night! Thereafter, the director and design team did their damnedest to keep the stage filled with motion, effects, dances, and most of all, a semblance of clarity. All in all, they served this version well...this was likely the best of all possible Candides."


Glimmerglass Festival Review: Celebrating 40 Years (Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal)

"Now in its 40th anniversary season, its fifth under the leadership of Francesca Zambello, the Glimmerglass Festival has once again become the kind of company that it was in its heyday in the mid-1990s – a destination that promises opera lovers something new and special with every production. Ms. Zambello has added classic American musicals, presented without amplification and using dancers trained in the style of musical theater, and this year's staging of Leonard Bernstein's Candide was the best so far...As directed by Ms. Zambello and conducted by the company's music director, Joseph Colaneri,this Candide is swiftly paced but darker and more nuanced than usual, with the bite of Voltaire's satire emerging through the text, the brilliant lyrics, and Bernstein's sparkling music."


The best of all possible whirls (David Browning,

"As with most Francesca Zambello productions I've seen, I can hardly resist singing the praises of the production team before mentioning the stellar cast. Ms. Zambello, as Director, and Conductor Joseph Colaneri, Scenic Designer James Noone, Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller, Hair/Makeup Designer Anne Ford-Coates, Lighting Designer Mark McCullough, and Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel, have created a treasure. From the opening bars of Mr. Colaneri's energetic reading of the score, I knew this would be a special show, and I was not disappointed. The clever arrival of some of the ensemble members on stage (I won't spoil it, but you'll remember it if you get to see it!) and the many other visual delights created by the design team, choreographer, and Ms. Zambello before the first words were sung only added to the excitement...I find that Candide is my favorite Glimmerglass production of the season. This production is full of magic and power and zest, and never disappointed. Go see it if you can get a ticket!"


Zambello spins magic at Glimmerglass with Bernstein's Candide (Linda Loomis, / The Post Standard)

"It's easy to believe in magic at Glimmerglass Festival's production of Candide, directed by Francesca Zambello with Joseph Colaneri conducting. These veteran collaborators stage a new production in which enchantment flows from the first bars of the unmistakably-Bernstein overture to the final ensemble number, "Make Our Garden Grow."...This production, fashioned by Bernstein's genius and produced by the talented crew at Glimmerglass, is prime entertainment."


Glimmerglass's Candide makes political satire satisfying entertainment (David Rubin, CNYCafé

Francesca Zambello demonstrates how a musical whose story is based entirely on politics and philosophy can 'glitter and be gay': "Zambello is to be thanked for not inserting topical political "humor" into the show. There were no Donald Trump jokes and no references to gridlocked Congresses. She played it straight – trusting that the audience would get whatever political message Wheeler, Caird and Voltaire had intended. As a result, she managed to do what Harold Prince (in the 1997 Broadway flop) and Tyrone Guthrie (in the 1956 original flop) could not – that is, make Candide a satisfying afternoon's entertainment, if not the wicked satire that Hellman and Bernstein intended."


A sprightly new production of Leonard Bernstein's musical from Francesca Zambello

"With its sprawling nature and unorthodox subject, Bernstein's Candide has a reputation as a flawed work, but it certainly doesn't seem so in Francesca Zambello's sprightly new production...Zambello strives to give each venue a character of its own. Her outlandish treatment of the El Dorado scene, which seems to draw inspiration both from Las Vegas and from Franco Zeffirelli's Turandot for the Met, makes that scene stand out and helps give overall shape to Act 2. And she is never at a loss to illustrate humorously the pronouncements of the narrator, which form much of the spoken text..."


Review: Preview of Glimmerglass's Odyssey (Seth Lachterman,

"One might say that the vast Homeric epic might too hallowed to be performed at such a small scale. However, many will succumb to the charms of Ben Moore's disarming score and Kelley Rourke's prosodic genius...The work progressed from heroic numbers like "Sing to me of Odysseus," to the blunter plaint, "Face it, he's never coming home!"  Engaging young audiences has become essential for classical music to survive in a world where digital immersion of immediacy of effect raises the aesthetic threshold.  "For the arts to flourish and grow and be alive, you must start with children," says Francesca Zambello, Artistic and General Director for this year's fortieth anniversary season...Odyssey promises a wealth of innovation: multiple "bards," a flexi-chorus taking on multiple roles as   Odysseus's crew, Ithacans, and even singing swine (thanks to Chef Circe)."


Francesca Zambello with Anna Catarina Antonacci

Francesca Zambello poses here with Anna Catarina Antonacci, star of San Francisco Opera's production of Marco Tutino's "La Ciociara" ("Two Women"), based on the novel that inspired the 1960 film with Sophia Loren. "La Ciociara," a San Francisco Opera commission, will be presented from 13 to 20 June, 2015, as a co-production with Teato Regio di Torino, and will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. More information about the production, including ticket sales, can be found at


Zambello Directs 2016 Ring Cycle at Washington National Opera

The Ring cycle returns to Washington National Opera in 2016 for three complete performances, with Francesca Zambello directing. Philippe Auguin will conduct, and the cast includes Nina Stemme, Catherine Foster, Alan Held, and Daniel Brenna. The Washington Post called this production "one of the best "Ring" cycles in more than a quarter of a century," and Zambello "one of the best directors working in opera today."

More information about the productions, including ticket sales, can be found at


Review: At Dallas Opera, Salome's Twisted Love Story Is a Bucket List Production (Lauren Smart, Dallas Observer Blogs)

"The Dallas Opera production [of Salome] is a dazzler."


Opera Review: Salome (Alicia Chang,

"Stage director Francesca Zambello manages to punctuate the heaviness of the story with light-hearted moments of humor."


Review: Dallas Opens a Must-See Salome (David Weuste,

"The Dallas Opera opened a star-studded production of Salome just in time for Halloween. With a combination of biblical, erotic, scandalous, and murderous themes throughout, it's almost a crime it's not being shown on Friday night (10/31) as well...Director Francesca Zambello allows for each of the stars of this work to bring out their own takes on these characters which buck some of the original intentions of Strauss, but in a way that makes you question Strauss rather than the artists...There have been some outstanding productions in Dallas the past few years, Tristan & Isolde, Turandot, The Barber of Seville, but this production of Salome just might be the best...Salome is an absolute, must-see performance."


Review: The Dallas Opera puts the R in aria with an excellent production of Salome (J. Robin Coffelt,

"...more than 100 years after its 1905 premiere, Salome can still shock. The Dallas Opera's production not only shocks, though — it also delivers, with some of the best playing from the Dallas Opera orchestra I've heard recently, effective acting, and absolutely splendid singing. Oh, yes, and an effectively choreographed Dance of the Seven Veils...This is an outstanding production, and at only 90 minutes long, not the usual opera marathon. Just to hear Voigt and Grimsley sing is well worthwhile. Go. But don't take the kids."


Review: Murder, incest, and...comedy? Playing Salome for laughs in Dallas (Evan Mitchell,

"Just when we as a listening public think we've got an opera figured out, having seen it staged within certain seemingly fixed boundaries time after time, a production comes along that makes us think again...Visually, this was an impressive affair...Musically, too, this Salome was a great success...A number of the unconventional touches in this production came off quite nicely. The curtain rose before the orchestra had even tuned, giving a sense of being "behind the scenes". This was a clever device for two reasons: for one, Salome has no overture, so it became a creative way to start things off; and, more meaningfully, this was the first of several allusions to voyeurism, to watching and being watched (as the audience was forced to do, with no music yet to hear). More pervasive and disturbing was the presence of silent onlookers, semi-hidden behind the vinyl curtain. The sight of this second audience hovering throughout the proceedings of nearly the entire opera suggested we consider our own role in watching the opera, and think twice about the moral ground on which we stand when judging the actions of Salome and those around her."


PBS to show "Porgy & Bess" as part of Fall Lineup

PBS will air THE GERSHWINS' PORGY AND BESS FROM SAN FRANCISCO OPERA (by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin) starring bass-baritone Eric Owens as Porgy and soprano Laquita Mitchell as Bess, and directed by Francesca Zambello, on October 17. Check local listings for time.


2014 Glimmerglass season features operas and classic American musical

The 2014 season at Glimmerglass will bring together four mainstage productions that span 100 years of opera and musical theater, representing the dramatic scope and range of the genre during the modern era. From Puccini's 1904 favorite, Madame Butterfly, to Tobias Picker's 2005 contemporary masterpiece, An American Tragedy, these productions juxtapose classic tragedies with comedic themes and grand opera.

Puccini's Madame Butterfly, directed by Francesca Zambello, opens on July 11, and will be presented in Italian with projected English text. Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel will be presented with full orchestra and no amplification, and opens on July 12. Richard Strauss's Ariadne in Naxos, directed by Francesca Zambello, opens on July 19, and will be presented in English and German with projected English text. And Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy, presented in celebration of the composer's 60th birthday, opens on July 20.

More information about the productions, including ticket sales, can be found at


The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess on DVD and Blu-ray

San Francisco Opera has released their highly-acclaimed 2009 production of Porgy and Bess, directed by Francesca Zambello, on DVD and Blu-ray. The San Jose Mercury News called the production "Dazzling and remarkable!"; the San Francisco Examiner called it "Triumphant!"; and the blog San Francisco Classical Voice ( noted that "Eric Owens and Laquita Mitchell turn in memorable performances in the title roles...and Ian Robertson's SFO Chorus is at its rafters-shaking best."

The production marked the first time that an American opera company performed the work, and was based on Gershwin's original full score, leaving out the cuts and other changes Gershwin made before the New York premiere, the 1942 revival, and the 1959 film.

Click here to purchase the DVD or Blu-ray directly from the San Francisco Opera shop.

Click here to purchase the DVD from

Click here to purchase the Blu-ray from


Excalibur opens on 15 March at the Theater St. Gallen

Excalibur, the new musical by Frank Wildhorn, transports the audience into a world of legends, battles, the heartache of love, warriors, and the magic of a mythical time resurrected. A country at war, a people longing for peace, a wizard who ties together the threads of fate, knights who lose their hearts, and worlds from which ordinary people are debarred - this is the setting in which the young King Arthur has to assert himself. With the help of his trusty companions he seeks to realize the utopia of the Knights of the Round Table in the hope of bringing peace to his divided kingdom.

Music is by Frank Wildhorn with lyrics by Robin Lerner and book by Ivan Menchell. The orchestration and arrangements are by Koen Schoots. The German text is by Nina Schneider. The technical team includes Francesca Zambello on stage production, Peter Davison on sets, Mark McCullough on Lighting, Susan Willmington on costume design, and Katy Tucker on projections. The choreography is by Eric Sean Fogel and the fight scenes are by Rick Sordelet.

Click here to view the Theater St. Gallen's Facebook photo album of images from the production.

Performance dates are March 15, 23, 26, 28, 29; April 6, 8, 26; and May 24 and 30. Tickets can be purchased here:

Photo used courtesy of Theater St. Gallen / Andreas J. Etter


The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me has fresh energy and charm (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post)

"So a lion, a unicorn and a donkey walk into a bar — along with a singing flamingo, an 11-year-old boy angel and a chorus of exuberant children — and compete for the honor of carrying Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem...the work manages to sustain a lot of fresh energy and charm — from the young cast to Eric Teague's colorful yet simple costumes — and it left Saturday night's audience pretty much delighted. There are certainly plenty of extra-musical reasons to want to like this opera. It's a new American work commissioned by a large opera company. It's written for children, and it involves plenty of children on stage. It also turns out, soberingly — as Francesca Zambello (who directed it) noted in remarks to the audience before the curtain — to be the first opera by a woman that WNO has ever presented in its 48-year history."Click here for the entire article.

Photo by Scott Suchman


Highly Recommended: The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (Rebecca Evans,

"The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, a new opera based on Jeanette Winterson's acclaimed children's novel, premiered in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater on Saturday night. Washington National Opera's Artistic Director Francesca Zambello is interested in music and theatre that speaks to us today, and The Lion, The Unicorn and Me is no exception...Most exceptional about this opera is that it can be interpreted on a number of levels. Those looking for mere entertainment will love the fun costumes and pop-infused tunes, while "deep-thinkers" will delve into ideas like "the smallest creature can make the biggest difference."...The holidays are about giving and I have a way for you to give back to your children, the arts, and yourself: head over to the Terrace Theater sooner rather than later (The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me is only playing through the 22nd). This is what music, theater, opera, and art need — performances that are brilliant but accessible, smart but unpretentious. This isn't an opera for children. This is an opera for everyone."Click here for the entire article.

Photo by Scott Suchman


The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me at Washington National Opera (Jessica Vaughan,

"Washington National Opera has made a small piece of history with the world premier of The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, a work commissioned by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, who also directs. This is their first production ever to feature the work of a female composer, Jeanine Tesori, a multiple Tony Award nominee for her scores for Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, or Change, and Shrek the Musical. She teamed up with librettist J.D. "Sandy" McClatchy, whose day job is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet. It's a sweet story of the donkey in the Nativity Story based on the children's book by renowned British author Jeanette Winterson, who was in the audience for the premiere...Zambello has a goal to bring new operatic works to Washington, as well as more American works, but her vision goes further than that in her quest to transform the Christmas season for opera. Ballet has its Nutcracker; orchestras have Handel's Messiah, and now opera has the donkey. This is the perfect medium for very important stories, and this is certainly a very important story, as the cast sings in the triumphant finale, "The smallest creatures can make the biggest difference." The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me would make for a lovely introduction to opera for kids. The songs are amusing and very relatable and the children outnumber the adults onstage, but has something for adults as well with its intricate score, clever libretto, talented performers, and its message about our universal longing to matter in this world, which is true whatever your age. The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me is an instant holiday classic — moving and sweet with powerhouse talent behind it."Click here for the entire article.

Photo by Scott Suchman


The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me Debuts at Kennedy Center and Charms Audience (Jennifer Perry,

"Suitable for the entire family, particularly during this holiday season, The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me takes us on a rather unique trip to Bethlehem — one that's filled with joyous music, charming and undeniably talented children, and showcases the talent of young opera singers...Certainly, particularly at this time of the year, there's no shortage of concerts and plays that focus on Jesus' birth. Yet, the original nature of this story - initially slightly different than what we've all heard before - and the fact that it's presented in a way that can engage modern, cosmopolitan kids and adults alike is likely to make it a hugely popular offering by opera companies in the 'family opera' slot. This is deservedly so. The music and the libretto work seamlessly together to create something special. Neither panders to the youngest child in the audience, yet offer something that's sophisticated while at the same time accessible...Yet, it's Tesori's selections for the angel that are the perfect blend of tenderness and sophistication while not sounding too saccharine. Wager's sweet, angelic boy soprano voice proves well-suited to the whole lot of them...Zambello should absolutely be commended for this casting choice."Click here for the entire article.


Opera Review: The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me (Elliott Lanes,

"This piece is important for a number of reasons. First off, anytime you can make opera accessible to young people it is a good thing. Secondly, by fusing opera and musical theatre together, as Tesori has done with her score and orchestration, you have a chance of the piece crossing over to a wider audience. Lastly, this is the first opera written by a female to be performed by the WNO in its 58 year history, and I could not think of a better choice...the performers are animated and have distinct characterizations. Credit must be given to director and WNO's artistic director Francesca Zambello for making this happen...Francesca Zambello's staging moves the action and keeps it interesting for the younger audience members while not blowing over what the story wants to say. The Lion, The Unicorn and Me gives all ages this holiday season a chance to go the opera and have a great time doing so. Tesori's music and McClatchy's libretto is a whole lot of fun and the production and performances help to introduce the younger generation to one of our oldest musical art forms."Click here for the entire article.

Photo by Scott Suchman


Washingtonian declares Zambello one of DC's most powerful women of 2013

In its November 2013 issue, Washingtonian magazine lists the 117 most powerful women in the DC area in a number of disciplines. Francesca Zambello made the list in the Arts and Letters category, alongside eight of her colleagues. Click here for the entire list, and to read the feature.


Zambello named among top ten most powerful women in US music

The ArtsJournal blog ( has tagged Francesca Zambello as the number 9 most powerful woman in US music. The honor places Zambello among such luminaries as Deborah Borda, Renee Fleming, Marin Alsop, Jane Moss, Sarah Billinghurst, and Joyce DiDonato. Click here to read Norman Lebrecht's piece.


Francesca Zambello Noted as one of Musical America's 2013 'Movers & Shakers'

Francesca Zambello graces the cover of the December 2013 'Movers & Shakers' issue of Musical America, as one of "30 Key Influences in the Performing Arts." This Special Report will be available in early December, as a free, downloadable PDF.

Visit for more information.

NOW AVAILABLE: Download Movers & Shakers: 30 Key Influencers in the Performing Arts here.

Or, proceed directly to Wynne Delacoma's feature on Mover and Shaker Francesca Zambello here.


WNO's The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me to Run 12/14-22 at the Kennedy Center (

"Washington National Opera (WNO) continues its 2013-2014 season with the world premiere of a new holiday family opera: The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me, December 14-22 in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Based on Jeanette Winterson's award-winning children's book which tells the story of the Nativity from a donkey's point of view, The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me features new music composed by Tony-nominated composer Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shrek The Musical) and a libretto by the poet J.D. McClatchy. This WNO commission is directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by Kimberly Grigsby (Broadway's Spring Awakening and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown) in her WNO debut.

"Zambello has a long history of bringing works for children and families to the stage, including the world premiere of Rachel Portman and Nicholas Wright's The Little Prince at Houston Grand Opera (later televised as part of PBS's Great Performances), as well as the recent Broadway musical The Little Mermaid. "I think it's important that as our national opera company we present a wide array of new American works, from our new 20-minute operas to bold new works like Moby-Dick to works like The Lion, The Unicorn, and Me that can bring a new generation of opera lovers into the Kennedy Center," said WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello. "We will continue to present works for new audiences and families so that they can begin to experience opera in an accessible way."

"I'm proud that we have assembled our own new Children's Chorus for this production, and I have enjoyed working with Henry on his role as the Angel since our workshop this summer," said Zambello. "I love seeing children on our stages and know that they help bring children into our audience."

Click here to read the entire article


Stanke, Seibert & More Set to Lead Premiere of New Wildhorn Musical ARTUS - Excalibur in Switzerland (

"The Theater St. Gallen announces the performers in the title roles of the world premiere of the musical ARTUS - Excalibur on 15 March 2014...The new musical by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde; Dracula, the Musical; The Count of Monte Christo) transports you into the world of Arthurian legend. The director of this world premiere is Francesca Zambello, whose speciality is large musicals, as she last demonstrated in St. Gallen with her successful production of Rebecca."

Click here to read the entire article


Zambello's Glimmerglass: the Legacy Lives On (Joseph E. Morgan, The Boton Musical Intelligencer,

"It has been three years since David Shengold last made the drive out to Glimmerglass to report to Intelligencer readers. It was Michael MacLeod's last year as artistic and general director there and Shengold described his residency as a "largely caretaking role vis-à-vis the company's legacy." At the time there was a great hope for a turn-around. For the 2011 season, Francesca Zambello took the reins and since, the company has changed in many ways but most importantly, it has survived. In an era of bankrupt orchestras (and cities), the "staycation" movement, and a general cultural austerity, Zambello has managed to maintain a festival of more than 40 summer performances in a town of under 2,000 people and over three hours distant from a major metropolitan area.

"In her time there, she has created a community around the opera festival that is rapidly becoming an institution..."

Click here to read the entire article


Under Zambello, Glimmerglass Festival creating a new musical community (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post)

"Francesca Zambello heads two opera companies. One is the Washington National Opera; the other is the Glimmerglass Festival, the summer festival in Cooperstown, N.Y. (which this year runs through Aug. 24). Technically speaking, Glimmerglass is not solely an opera company; under Zambello, its purview has opened to embrace all forms of musical theater, including song recitals and an annual Broadway musical. But Zambello is putting the "company" into it with a vengeance.

"There's a trend among classical music institutions to find new ways to connect with their communities — or to create new ones. This is very much what's going on at Glimmerglass. Zambello is creating a group of artists with allegiances to the company..."

Click here to read the entire article


The Flying Dutchman at Glimmerglass Festival 2013 (Susan Galbraith,

"A season programmed under an umbrella theme can feel a strain, but Artistic and General Director Francesca Zambello has pulled off a clean sweep of wins at Glimmerglass Festival this year, all under a banner featuring Romanticism...Zambello herself directs the great romantic opera, The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner. It's a "must see" opera. It's got those lush stirring musical passages borrowed by many and heard in other popular works. It's a story of pirates, ghost ships and the walking dead, and, at its center, of redemptive love that reaches beyond the grave.

"The director has thrown out the need for great heavy sets and watery realism often associated with this opera. This production mostly takes place on one ship reduced to a single gunwale in silhouette and rattlings that reach up the full height of the back cyc.  ("Why two ships if one will do?" Zambello quipped at an after show "talkback" to a patron who wanted to know why she'd downsized the opera to a single vessel.)

"What Zambello hasn't compromised on is the role of the music. John Keenan conducts the unusually large orchestra for Glimmerglass (forty-nine pieces in all.) The musicians muster their forces to produce a pretty sensational sound and carry the audience with them through the fast string work and dark percussion into experiencing the swells and roiling of a tempestuous sea."

Click here to read the entire article


Passions drenches Glimmerglass audience in sorrow (Linda Loomis, Syracuse Post-Standard)

"Linking Giovanni Battista Pergolesi's 1736 setting of a 13th Century hymn, "Stabat Mater," with David Lang's 2008 Pulitzer-Prize winning The Little Match Girl Passion, Artistic Director Francesca Zambello addresses the timeless and universal human emotions associated with physical and emotional suffering...With Zambello's meticulous direction, Lang's setting of the passion forces viewers to examine the morality of their own actions and consider their relationships with those who are rejected, marginalized or excluded."


David Lang's Little Match Girl Passion at Glimmerglass Opera (Peter Matthews,

"I've seen David Lang's Pulitzer Prize-winning the little match girl passion on at least three separate occasions now, and while the music has never ceased to haunt me, I've always thought the heartbreaking Hans Christian Andersen tale about a girl who freezes while trying to sell matches on the street would be well served by staging...The staging, by Glimmerglass director Francesca Zambello, was beautifully simple, with gentle snow falling on the dimly lit stage."


Glimmerglass Festival Presents David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion - July 20, 2013 (

"The staging of the passion, directed by Francesca Zambello, was effective and always interesting."


McKinny, Moore, Morris Soar in Flying Dutchman - Glimmerglass Festival, July 18, 2013 (

"[Zambello's] conceptualization of the mythic story centered on the psychological obsession of a teenage girl for a male figure. The effect, as with most Zambello journeys into familiar operas, was revelatory.

"Although Wagner's composition requires Senta to be a focus of every production of Flying Dutchman, Zambello's emphasis on the work's "feminine side," I believe, transforms the piece from a fairy tale that ends badly to a deeply psychological mythic drama. What does happen to the women with whom the Dutchman had been engaged in his disembarkation every seven years? What has Senta done that so upsets the Dutchman?

"With brilliant acoustics, international rank artists in every major role and the heightened  theatrical experience that one expects from a Zambello project, Dutchman proved as exciting an evening as last season's Aida.

"Zambello's direction permitted [McKinny] to develop, instead of a remote ghost figure, a more human character, who connects empathetically with Senta.

"Empathy with the women who have been destroyed by his curse is as much a concern of Zambello's Dutchman as is his personal damnation and that of the men of his crew.

"That concern is visualized in one of Zambello's most arresting images: women who have pledged fidelity to the Dutchmen, but were found wanting, are themselves entangled forever in the mast riggings of the Dutchman's ship. They cluster around him as he walks from ghost ship to shore.

"When Zambello takes on a Wagnerian opera, one begins to see deeper meaning to the relationships between the characters that Wagner created.

"I recommend this production without reservation, both for Zambello's insightful presentation of a familiar story, and for the brilliant trio of Ryan McKinny, Melody Moore and Jay Hunter Morris, as well as a strong secondary cast."

Click here to read the entire article


Fliegende Holländer at Glimmerglass (David Browning, HuffPost Arts & Culture)

"Your intrepid reporter has once again happily traipsed all the way across the state to see beautifully done opera and to tell you about it. This time the venue was the Glimmerglass Festival, site of several wonderful shows seen and reported two years ago. (I had to miss the entire season last year. Bitter tears were the result.)

"The first show I saw was Der Fliegende Holländer, Mr. Wagner's great opus in honor of seamen. Ghostly ship's captain comes ashore once every seven years searching for true love, and one gathers that it never ends well. Glimmerglass always has innovative and creative new productions of both standard and unusual works, and Francesca Zambello, artistic director of Glimmerglass and stage director of this show, certainly did not let us down! This was a visually stunning show, with spellbinding effects in scenery, stage direction, choreography, and lighting. (My companion opined that the enormously effective lighting was like another character, but in a successful way, not in a Lepage-machine way.) Sets by James Noone and lighting by Mark McCullough deserve high praise, as do Ms. Zambello's lusty direction and choreography by Eric Sean Fogel."

Click here to read the entire article


Bold Strokes in the Country — Glimmerglass Offers an Ambitious Spread of Works (Steve Smith, The New York Times)

Photo by Karli Cadel/The Glimmerglass Festival

"COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Ambition has never been in short supply at the Alice Busch Opera Theater, the cozy 900-seat auditorium that long housed the Glimmerglass Opera, and now is the principal setting for its successor, the Glimmerglass Festival. But even measured by the high standard this annual affair has sustained, this year's festival — which runs through Aug. 24 here — rises to new levels of innovation, curiosity and, yes, chutzpah.

"Make no mistake, that's meant as praise. It takes a certain kind of fearlessness to conceive and execute a summer series in which the most conventional offering is Wagner's "Flying Dutchman." One of two shows directed by Francesca Zambello, the festival's renowned and provocative general and artistic director, the production is the first Glimmerglass staging of one of Wagner's canonical works. ("Das Liebesverbot," Wagner's second opera, was mounted here in 2008, during Michael MacLeod's brief tenure at the helm.)

"Compared to last season's notorious topical updating of Verdi's "Aida" — and to the other works in this year's festival, which include a popular Broadway musical, a fascinating pair of staged vocal works not intended for the theater, and a rare Verdi flop — "The Flying Dutchman" was presented in an essentially traditional manner. But Ms. Zambello's resourceful, riveting conception, seen on Thursday, still illuminates fresh depths and currents in this Wagner seafaring tale..."

Click here to read the entire article


Washington National Opera names Francesca Zambello as Artistic Director

SEPTEMBER 13: Washington National Opera (WNO) today 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.

To read the press release on Washington National Opera's blog, click here.


Heart of a Soldier on WFMT radio

San Francisco Opera's production of Christopher Theofanidis' opera, Heart of a Soldier, directed by Francesca Zambello, will air on Chicago's WFMT (98.7 FM) on September 8th as part of their 'From the San Francisco Opera' series. To view the schedule and listen live, click here.


The elephants come to Glimmerglass...for Aida


A breath of fresh air for opera (The Australian, Murray Black)

"Freed from the restrictive confines of the cramped Opera Theatre stage, Zambello, costume designer Tess Schofield and choreographer Stephen Baynes created a riot of colour and movement [in Opera Australia's production of La Traviata]...Zambello's thoughtfulness extended further. For instance, the matadors knelt down to become the supports for a large red cloth doubling as a gambling table. Most impressive of all was the way she integrated offstage activity into the action. Watching characters arrive and depart up and down the gangplanks brought a broader sense of perspective...Whether you're going for the spectacle or the music, whether you're an opera buff or novice, you won't be disappointed."

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Bellissimo! Handa Opera's La Traviata on Sydney's waterfront a big success (The Telegraph, Jo Litson)

"La Traviata is opera as a major event. The huge stage over the water, the stunning location at Fleet Steps, and the onsite bars and dining areas with priceless views are all part of a unique Sydney experience. As for the dazzling production itself, directed by Francesca Zambello, it more than holds its own in the magical setting....All in all, it's a massive undertaking — which OA has pulled off magnificently."

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Walking — and singing — on water (The Economist 'Prospero' blog)

"Opera Australia, the country's main opera company, staged a triumphant premiere performance of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata on a water-borne stage before an audience of 3,000 people on shore. Nothing like this had ever been done before. [Artistic Director Lyndon] Terracini was not about to offer them something conventional: "If a traditional repertory company like Opera Australia wants to draw a younger audience, you have to change." With this in mind Francesca Zambello, the director, and Tess Schofield, the costume designer, relocated Verdi's operatic story of Violetta, the doomed courtesan, from 19th-century Paris to the 1950s...With this spare but arresting setting, Ms Zambello says she wanted to connect the story to the visual world of contemporary Sydney, and its energetic outdoor life. The sprawling stage turned into a dazzling display of matadors, vibrant '50s fashion and chorus members arriving for the performance's second half by water taxi, a popular Sydney transport mode..Australians are not usually given to offering standing ovations. But the audience of 3,000 rose spontaneously to applaud the inaugural event's seemingly flawless management...As an exercise in pushing boundaries, Opera Australia's gamble paid off."

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Review: La Traviata (Inner West Courier, Irina Dunn)

"If ever I have experienced a perfect night out this was it... the evening was sparkling, clear and crisp as 3,000 patrons and matrons gathered on the eastern foreshore of Farm Cove for a performance of Verdi's acclaimed masterpiece La Traviata. Direction was by Francesca Zambello, who has worked at the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bolshoi, Covent Garden and the Paris Opera, among other world-famous venues. Setting the action in the Paris of the 1950s, Zambello evokes the period through a rich array of colourful costumes and displays a stroke of genius in how the card table is set up, not to mention the many other delightful and breathtaking aspects of this outstanding production."

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The show behind Lyric's Show Boat (Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro)

"You're hearing it probably the way that Jerome Kern made it sound originally," Zambello said. "There would have been this many people onstage. There would have been this many people in the orchestra pit. Since World War II, we've been in the whittling down of the music theater in terms of the size of the cast and the size of the orchestra."

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