The Castleton Festival Presents: Romeo et Juliette Last Mentee of Maazel, Maestro Rafael Payare Conducts

Castleton, VA (June 12, 2015) — Opera, known for its high drama, might be the perfect medium for this classic tragedy of star-crossed lovers. The Castleton Festival opens its operatic program on Friday, July 3 at 8pm with Charles Gounod’s five-act opera Roméo et Juliette (Romeo and Juliet). Rafael Payare, the Principal Conductor at Castleton for 2015, will be conducting. As a young Venezuelan boy, Payare began playing French Horn in the famous “El Sistema” — a system that brings free musical education to the masses — and has since catapulted into the major music halls of the world, conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony and Munich Philharmonic, to name a few. Tickets range from $20-$299 ($299 includes Gala Dinner and more). Subsequent performances are on July 5, 10, 18. Call the Box Office at 1-866-974-0767 or visit www.castletonfestival.org for a schedule and ticket information.

Principal Conductor Rafael Payare had a rich relationship with Maestro Maazel and was first invited to conduct at Castleton in 2012. “Payare was my husband’s last mentee,” CEO and Artistic Director Dietlinde Turban Maazel said, “Maestro Maazel shared hours with him talking about the art of conducting, and showed him his own marked scores and orchestra parts.”

“He felt he had identified one of the finest new conducting talents of the world, someone combining excellent baton technique with subtle, engaging and honest musicianship,” Mrs. Maazel continued, “Maestro Payare was an obvious choice for Principal Conductor for our 2015 season and beyond.”

With that, the baton has been passed and Payare is emerging as one of the most sought after conductors of his generation. Since winning the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition in 2012, he has made debuts with the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony, Munich Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Symphony and the Los Angeles and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, amongst others. A graduate of the celebrated “El Sistema” in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with the founder and visionary José Antonio Abreu. José Antonio Abreu founded the publicly financed “El Sistema” in 1975 and its social action via music philosophy has been the model for similar organizations worldwide. “I am not only a part of El Sistema, I am a son of El Sistema,” said Payare, “All my musical education came from El Sistema and I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. When I go back to Venezuela, I conduct orchestras in small cities and with the youth orchestra there.“

The performances will take place in the Castleton Festival Theatre will a full cast and chorus, including some of the 42 young participants of the Castleton Artists Training Seminar (CATS), directed by Dorothy Danner and conducted by Maestro Rafael Payare. Two families engage in an endless blood feud, while two young lovers secretly bridge the divide. Roméo et Juliette, an opera by Charles Gounod based on The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, is known for its captivating duets between the two lovers, even in their last breath. This opera will be performed in the original French, with English supertitles. A special 2015 Festival Opening Night Gala Dinner precedes the performance. The $299 select Gold Seats include a four-course gourmet dinner, VIP Parking, Center Stage tickets, and a post-performance reception with the cast.

The American tenor Daniel Montenegro is Roméo. A graduate of San Francisco’s Adler Fellow Program, his recent performance highlights include Nemorino (Lelisir damore) at Washington National Opera, Alfredo (La Traviata) and Tamino in (The Magic Flute) with The Minnesota Opera, and Mario (Il Postino) with Plácido Domingo at the Théâtre du Châtelet.

Juliette will be sung by soprano Rebecca Nathanson. Nathanson is a rising star, hailed by Opera News as “particularly vivid…nothing short of orgasmic.” She previously appeared with the Castleton Festival as Frasquita (Carmen) and Musetta (La bohème), which she reprised in her international debut at the Royal Opera House Muscat. Now a recent LA Opera Young Artist Program alumna, she debuted there as Myrtale (Thais) and covered Violetta (La traviata), Marie Antoinette (The Ghosts of Versailles), Blanche (A Streetcar Named Desire) among others.

Director Dorothy Danner has directed nearly 200 productions throughout the United States, Canada, and Belgium, including operas for Glimmerglass Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Philadelphia Opera, Miami Opera, Minnesota Opera. Danner has served on the panel for the National Institute of Music Theatre and on Opera America’s Panel for New Works. She was co-founder of the Glimmerglass Young Artist Program, served on the faculties of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Chautauqua Institution, and has been a frequent guest director at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, New York University, Boston University, and Carnegie-Mellon.

The 2015 season marks the first Festival since the passing of its founder, Maestro Lorin Maazel, in July 2014. Led by Mrs. Turban Maazel, an award-winning actor and co-founder of the Festival, the 2015 Castleton Festival will continue its tradition of bringing together internationally renowned conductors, singers, instrumentalists, and stage technicians to live and work as a harmonious, supportive musical family in the beautiful foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Castleton Festival is distinct among other festivals because of its combined roles as a producing entity, a modern performance venue and, most importantly, a mentoring program for young artists and theater professionals. More than 200 outstanding young professional singers, and instrumentalists-in-training come through the summer Castleton Artists Training Seminar (CATS), and the Castleton Festival Orchestra is composed of outstanding young professionals at the start of their careers. The 2015 Festival will include symphonic concerts, chamber music, vocal recitals, the world premiere of Wang’s Comic Opera Scalia/Ginsburg, a production of the all-time favorite play Our Town, and will bring back the July 4 weekend bluegrass and All-American Band concerts that have been a hallmark of the festival since it began in 2009. Visit www.castletonfestival.org for a complete schedule and visitor information.


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