Zambello to replace Domingo

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Zambello to replace Domingo

WASHINGTON - The Washington National Opera announced Wednesday that it has appointed Francesca Zambello as the company’s artistic adviser as famed tenor Placido Domingo steps down after 15 years with the opera.

The appointment comes as the company merges with the Kennedy Center to provide stability after years of financial struggles. Zambello previously worked with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser at London’s Royal Opera House.

“I think that opera has the chance to attract people in ways that we don’t always think about, quite honestly,” she said in an interview. “I’m all about creating productions that are accessible to the audience, that are entertaining, that are storytelling.”

Zambello is a respected director in both opera and musical theater. She is currently directing a new production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle for the San Francisco Opera. The production originated with the Washington National Opera but it was unable to finish all four episodes because of financial troubles.

Kaiser and Zambello agreed they would like to stage a complete “Ring” cycle in Washington after the opera spent considerable time and money developing it as the “American Ring” in 2006, drawing on themes and settings from U.S. history to explore Wagner’s epic of greed, ambition and betrayal.

After the “Ring” productions in June, Zambello will step down as artistic adviser of the San Francisco Opera to focus her efforts on Washington and as director of the Glimmerglass Opera, a summer festival in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The New York-based director will be part of a team that will direct the opera’s programming as it transitions from Domingo, who joined as artistic director in 1996.

Kaiser said Zambello is the leading woman among opera directors. “She’s got a lot of vision in opera and we think she’s going to bring some really good programming ideas, casting ideas, ideas for the productions that should be used,” he said.

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