The Kennedy Center plans a big year

Shakespeare theme covers music and theater


The Kennedy Center will be awash in "sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not" during the six-month Shakespeare in Washington festival that starts in January. But that's just a portion of a typically wide-ranging lineup for 2006-2007, announced yesterday.

The many Bard-related items include performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Coriolanus), Kirov Opera (Verdi's Falstaff) and Kirov Ballet (Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet).

The center will revive the 1961 Bob Merrill-Michael Stewart musical Carnival! and welcome touring productions of the Tony Award-generating The Light in the Piazza and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (with the Broadway cast of Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin).

Super-starry guest artists fill the National Symphony Orchestra's roster, including soprano Deborah Voigt in a concert version of Richard Strauss' Salome and a multi-week celebration of the Dmitri Shostakovich centennial featuring NSO conductor laureate Mstislav Rostropovich, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Maxim Vengeroiv and pianist Martha Argerich.

Also observing the Shostakovich anniversary at the center will be the Emerson String Quartet and the Kirov Opera (a concert version of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk).

Other NSO highlights include the premiere of a piano concerto by Jennifer Higdon with Lang Lang as soloist; a 60th birthday salute to composer John Adams; and a "Serious Fun" festival will find NSO music director Leonard Slatkin and composer Peter Schickele delving into such tongue-in-cheek repertoire as Symphony No. 5 1/2 by Don Gillis and P.D.Q. Bach's 1712 Overture for Really Big Orchestra.

Back to theater. Among the highlights: a reunion concert version of Sweeney Todd with Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski reprising their roles from the center's 2002 Sondheim Celebration; Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot from the Gate Theatre of Dublin, to mark the playwright's centenary; and Emily Mann's Mrs. Packard, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays honoree.

Two world-premiere commissions will be part of the Imagination Celebration series for young audiences - The Brand New Kid, based on Katie Couric's children's book, and Alex in Wonderland, written, directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen.

In addition to the Verdi and Shostakovich works, the Kirov Opera and artistic director Valery Gergiev, returning for the fifth year of a decade-long association with the center, will offer a production of Rossini's Il Viaggio.

On the dance front: Matthew Bourne's ballet version of Edward Scissorhands, performed by his company New Adventures; Lar Lubovich's Othello by American Ballet Theatre; George Balanchine's A Midsummer Night's Dream by New York City Ballet; new productions of Pique Dame and Don Quixote by the Bolshoi Ballet; and The Nutcracker by the Joffrey Ballet.

For more information on the '06-'07 season, visit

Sun theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck contributed to this article.

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