The Ash Lawn Opera Festival (ashlawnopera.org) is a nationally recognized nine-week-long summer music festival located in Charlottesville, Va. Festival events include Music at Twilight, Summer Saturdays that feature family entertainment, and a five-concert series of classical and contemporary music. In 2009, the opera festival relocated from Ash Lawn-Highland to The Paramount Theater.
The Ash Lawn Opera Festival was established in 1978 with three evenings of lectures and one-act operas. After more than 30 years of operation, the festival has expanded to feature full-length operas and musical-theater productions that run from June through August. Originally, the Boxwood Gardens at Ash-Lawn Highland, home of President James Monroe, hosted this outdoor summer-opera festival. Currently, Ash-Lawn Highland, which encompasses both the museum and the summer festival, is owned and operated by the College of William and Mary, Monroe's alma mater.
Past performances on the historic lawn of President Monroe's estate have included Giocomo Puccini's "Madame Butterfly" and "La Boheme" as well as Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story." The 2011 season includes Gioacchino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I." This year, the festival will provide a family version of "The Barber of Seville" entitled "The Barber of C'ville." This family opera will provide children the opportunity to go behind the scenes of opera production to witness such things as a set move and costume changes.
For the first time, Ash Lawn Opera will perform a condensed version of "The Barber of Seville" at the Evans Center at Wintergreen Resort. In the evening, bring a picnic to enjoy the Young Artists perform "Opera Under the Stars" at Ash-Lawn Highland. Noontime recitals, opera experts performed by the Young Artists, and pre-performance lectures at The Paramount Theater are all free events open to the public. Check the festival's website for dates and times of performances.
Ash Lawn Opera has a long commitment to making opera accessible to everyone with its educational programs for public schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and the Boy and Girl Scouts. The education committee of the Ash Lawn Opera Guild also organizes the apprentice program, Kids Fest, Artist in Residence, and Opera Connects for Teachers programs.
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