Spotlight on Raquel González, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist

Gonzalez Raquel Headshot croppedSoprano Raquel González discusses her second season with the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. Read even more about her here.


Where were you born?  Did you grow up in a musical household?

I was born in Iowa City, Iowa. Neither of my parents is musical, though my siblings and I all picked up music through band, choir, or orchestra.


Is that where you consider “home” today?

Home for me is where my family lives now – Lawrence, Kansas. Read more


Voss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropOne of the initial choices a director makes in preparing a production is what does it look like? How will I interpret the story? The people you first turn to are your collaborators in the production team, the designers and choreographer. In this case, we also used projections as well as scenery, lights and costumes to define our world.

Many people have asked me how we arrived at the visual world to tell our story. When I worked with the designers, now over a ten-year arc, we thought a lot about how Wagner wrote a story about the end of the world using Nordic myths as his model. In turn, we thought how would we parallel that for today’s audiences.

Read more


Voss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropDid you know?…

With 94 people in the orchestra, 74 members of the chorus, 63 crew members, and countless others, there are 370 people involved on stage, backstage, and in the pit during the performances.

It takes approximately 17 hours to complete all four operas in the cycle.

The Ring uses 13,000 ft. of chain (that’s more than 2 miles long), 950 lbs. of propane, and over 500 lighting instruments for over 400 lighting cues.

920 liters of liquid nitrogen are used nightly for fog effects.

There will have been over 230 rehearsals leading up to opening night, averaging at 3 hours per rehearsal, totaling over 690 hours rehearsing.

There are a total of 309 costumes for the 175 cast members on stage.

– Francesca Zambello, WNO Artistic Director and Ring director

Spotlight on Rexford Tester, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist


Tenor Rexford Tester discusses his first season with the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. Read even more about him here.


Where were you born?  Did you grow up in a musical household?

I was born in Tazewell, VA. I grew up in a musical household, however, not classically trained. My family sang southern gospel music together in church.

Is that where you consider “home” today?

Tazewell will always feel like home, however, wherever I am living, I consider it home. So, D.C. is now home too.

Read more


RVoss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropecently in Takoma (which BTW, I would love to give a shout out to this little burg, since it is so charming), we worked on the killer Siegfried and Brünnhilde duet (Daniel Brenna and Catherine Foster) in Act Three of Siegfried and then did a run-thru of all of Rhinegold—all the cast and our 50 kid supers who play the Nibelungs. It’s amazing how Wagner so brilliantly lays it all out here.

It is a joy to be reunited with Alan Held, our Wotan, who I began this journey with, and now we are putting it all together. Other long-time colleagues in the cast include Bill Burden making his debut as Loge and Betsy Bishop as Fricka. Loge is really the start of it all.

The notorious RBG (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) once said, “if he had been better lawyer, we would not be in this mess…”

– Francesca Zambello, WNO Artistic Director and Ring director


Voss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropEvery day from 10:30 in the morning until 10 in the evening, many of us are slaving away like Nibelungs in D.C.’s Takoma neighborhood, where the WNO rehearsal studios are located. In a sort of industrial building, we are fortunate to have three large rehearsal rooms the size of the Kennedy Center stage.

As a director, often these are my favorite times. You are in a rehearsal space with the performers and you can really talk and dig into the meaning of each scene, each word that Wagner wrote. With Wagner, we start by dissecting every scene together, usually around a table, investigating the words, the meanings of the “leitmotifs,” and how the characters interact. So many Ring scenes are just two or three people, so you have to really get on a wave together to find the meaning in the words and music – and then be able to bring the power of it all forward.

– Francesca Zambello, WNO Artistic Director and Ring director

Spotlight on Aleksandra Romano, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist

Romano Aleksandra Headshot 2Mezzo-soprano Aleksandra Romano returns for a second season with the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists. Read even more about her here.

Where were you born?  Did you grow up in a musical household?

I’m originally from New Haven, CT. I grew up playing violin, but no one in the house was classically trained. I grew up on a healthy diet of folk and rock music, sprinkled with a little gospel. My brother is also a musician, though of more electronic music and rock.

Is that where you consider “home” today?

CT will always be my hometown, and I relish every minute that I get to spend there, but as a traveling singer, you learn to bring home with you, either in the form of small mementos or a dog or bringing your entire family along with you. I bring a couple of pictures and small things wherever I go, so that I can feel grounded, even if I’m in a hotel for a week or two. Read more

News from Nibelheim: My “Gift” to Ring Fans

Voss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropMany drinks are consumed in Wagner’s operas—and as my personal “Gift” to you, let me introduce my series of special recipes to salute these delightful libations!

(Now, remember that “Gift” in German means poison. So some of these drinks can get you really hammered. Over the next few weeks, I will offer some that are with alcohol, and some without!)

For our first beverage, remember in those old 19th-century etchings when you see a group of hunters dressed in armor with those funny helmets, and they’re always toasting each other with big copper mugs? What do you think they were drinking? I made up a cocktail to match the image and I’ve called it the “Sturm und Drang,” which literally means “Storm and Drive” or “Storm and Urge.” It’s based on other drinks we know, but with ginger beer.

Read more

News from Nibelheim: Open up to the Wagner Experience

Voss-FrancescaZambello-21FINAL_cropNow I am sure everyone reading my blog has a different level of how they have experienced or perceive the works of Wagner. How about we just all get on the same page of starting fresh and discovering it anew?

Naturally, we will be doing many lectures and talks leading up to our production of the Ring. But a simple and fun book to use to explore the “Master” is Wagner without Fear by William Berger, easily available on Amazon.

Read more

Spotlight on Michael Brandenburg, Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist

Brandenburg Michael HeadshotTenor Michael Brandenburg joined the WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists in the fall of 2015. Read even more about him here. 

Where were you born?  Did you grow up in a musical household?

Austin, Indiana.  I come from a completely non-musical family.

Is that where you consider “home” today?

While growing up in a small, rural town in southern Indiana was certainly instrumental in shaping who I have become, I have felt right at home here in Washington and I plan on making this city my home.

Read more

1 5 6 7 8 9