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Verdi Takes Center Stage at The Castleton Festival’s
“An  Italian Extravaganza”

By Tim Rush

July 2013  

Giuseppe Verdi .

The Castleton Festival
Lorin Maazel, Director and Conductor
Antonio Mendez, Conductor
Elizabeth Futral, Soprano
Jonathan Burton, Tenor
Corey Crider, Baritone
The Castleton Festival Orchestra
June 30, 2013
The Hylton Center, Manassas, VA

The Castleton Festival  brought a welcome dose of Verdi to an enthusiastic audience at the Hylton Center in Manassas, VA, the evening of June 30, 2013. The program included other elements under the rubric “An Italian Extravaganza”, but it was Verdi who took center stage, as well he might in this, the bicentennial year of his birth.  And embedded in the programming were samples of Verdi's devotion to bringing Friedrich Schiller's dramas to the operatic stage, parallel to Verdi's devotion to Shakespeare.


Left: Maestro Lorin Maazel – Photo Credit: Chris Lee.

Below, left: Coloratura soprano Elizabeth Futral – Photo Credit: Karli Cadel.

Below, right: Tenor Jonathan Burton – Photo Credit: Jeremy Reed.


The evening featured alternating operatic arias and orchestral selections. Soprano Elizabeth Futral delivered her strongest singing in “Ah, Fors’č  lui” and “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata; likewise tenor Jonathan Burton and baritone Corey Crider in selections from Don Carlo (based on Schiller's play of the same name), culminating in the magnificent duet between Don Carlo and Rodrigo, “E lui! Desso!” The orchestral selections pivoted on two masterful Verdi overtures, one to the opera Luisa Miller (based on Schiller’s early play, Kabale und Liebe), the other to La Forza del Destino.

The Castleton Festival Orchestra was one of the treats of the evening. The festival as a whole is the creation of Lorin Maazel, former Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, and his wife, Dietlinde Turban Maazel. The concerts at the Hylton Center are in fact a spin-off of a month of opera-centered summer performances at an outdoor venue built on the Maazels’ estate in the Virginia countryside near  the Rappahannock River. The orchestra, selected personally by Lorin Maazel from young professionals and students, has its room and board covered but is otherwise unpaid. In just two weeks of rehearsals, they carried off this demanding concert with bravura, with special kudos to the woodwinds. Maestro Maazel alternated conducting in the evening with young conductor Antonio Mendez, who brought a special brio to both overtures and arias.