Emily d’Angelo, Isabel Leonard & Justin Austin Lead Washington National Opera’s 2023-24 Season

By Francisco Salazar

The Washington National Opera has announced its 2023-24 season featuring a new world premiere.

The season opens with the world premiere of Jeanine Tesori’s new work, “Grounded,” in a co-production that was initiated and commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Adapted from the play by George Brant and featuring his libretto, “Grounded” tells the story of Jess, an elite female F-16 fighter pilot who, upon becoming pregnant, is relegated to a trailer in Las Vegas to fly lethal drones in Afghanistan. Playing the role of Jess is Emily D’Angelo.

For the production, the Metropolitan Opera has employed massive LED-screen technology to immerse audiences in the flying and drone warfare sequences, offering a first-hand view of Jess’ world both high up in the sky and through the scope of her drone.

Performance Dates: Oct. 28-Nov. 13, 2023

The company will present a new production of Gounod’s “Romeo and Juliet” Principal Conductor Evan Rogister conducts a cast that includes Rosa Feola, Adam Smith, Duke Kim, and Justin Austin. Simon Godwin directs.

Performance Dates: Nov. 4-18, 2023

The WNO will revive Tesori and J.D. McClatchy’s family-friendly Holiday opera, “The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me,” based on the children’s book by Jeanette Winterson. Former Cafritz Young Artist and Marian Anderson Award-recipient Solomon Howard plays the Lion.

Performance Dates: Dec. 8-10, 2023

Named for the barrier-breaking African American contralto, the Marian Anderson Vocal Award is presented annually by the Kennedy Center and WNO to a young American singer. This year’s winner is baritone Justin Austin. In addition to awarding Austin a cash prize and a residency at Washington D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, WNO will present the baritone in an intimate recital.

Performance Date: Dec. 12, 2023

WNO’s American Opera Initiative, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in January 2023, has commissioned three new works by composers Laura Jobin-Acosta, Elizabeth Gartman, and Joy Redmond, and librettists Sam Norman, José G. Alba Rodríguez, and Melisa Tien.

Performance Date: Jan. 19, 2024

A new adaptation of Offenbach’s “Songbird (La Périchole)” will be performed with mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and Ramin Karimloo.

Performance Dates: March 9–23, 2024

Christopher Tin and Susan Soon He Stanton lead a new production of Puccini’s “Turandot.” The Washington National Opera has commissioned a world premiere ending composed by Christopher Tin, featuring a new libretto by Susan Soon He Stanton. 2024 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Puccini, who died before he was able to complete Turandot. An ending composed by Franco Alfano had become standard for most performances of this opera for the last century. In the title role is Ewa Płonka, who will perform alongside Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha. All of the visual elements of this production will be created by Wilson Chin and costume designer Linda Cho.

Performance Dates: May 11–25, 2024