Nordic artists, including a percussionist who carves instruments from Norwegian glacier ice, will take over the Kennedy Center next year for a monthlong festival to cap a new season of programs in 2012 and 2013 that were announced Tuesday.
The "Nordic Cool 2013" festival in February and March 2013 will include theater, music, dance, food and art exhibits to showcase the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and territories including Greenland.
Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said the festival would present new artistic styles to U.S. audiences. Much of the festival will explore Nordic life, nature, technology, environmental sustainability and youth culture.
"It's a region that does a lot of interesting art, but I think is not all that well-known or understood," Kaiser said. "I think we get increasingly less familiar as we go from West to East until we hit Moscow, but I think there's a lot that we don't know."
Some of the world's top restaurants are in the Nordic countries, Kaiser said, and chefs from the region will create menus for the center's restaurants during the festival.
As part of a nearly $100 million slate of programs for 2012 and 2013, the Kennedy Center also is planning new productions in theater and opera and a new jazz club performance space. It will also host special concerts celebrating "Songs of Conscience" from folk singer Woody Guthrie and reggae musician Bob Marley with the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles to showcase music that helped draw attention to issues of their day. John Mellencamp will perform in honor of Guthrie.
In theater, the center plans to stage a new adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's 1910 play "The Guardsman" to be directed by Gregory Mosher. The comedy tells the story of a newlywed husband who disguises himself as a guardsman to test whether his wife would cheat on him. It's been nearly 90 years since the show debuted on Broadway.
The Kennedy Center also announced it will host tours of the Tony Award-winning Broadway shows "The Book of Mormon," "War Horse" and "Anything Goes."
In the opera house, Washington National Opera will stage new productions of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Show Boat" in May 2013 and Bellini's "Norma" in March 2013. "Show Boat" is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera and Houston Grand Opera, and one performance of the show will be simulcast in Nationals Park.
The season will feature performances by top opera singers including Nathan Gunn, Sondra Radvanovsky, Patricia Racette and Angela Meade.
The opera company also is expanding its season to include a family opera of "Hansel and Gretel" during the holiday season to be performed in a smaller theater.
"I think it will be a great way to introduce children to opera," Kaiser said.
This year will mark the first season for pianist Jason Moran to lead the Kennedy Center's jazz programming. He will host a free "Election Night Jam" session and create a new performance space with a dance floor, sofas and open seating to offer a more casual vibe.
In ballet, the Kennedy Center will present Christopher Wheeldon's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Mariinsky Ballet performing Alexei Ratmansky's "Cinderella." The center's Ballet Across America program will present ballet companies from nine U.S. cities, including the return of Dance Theatre of Harlem, which had closed as a company.
Finally, in classical music, the Kennedy Center will host a weeklong residency with star pianist Lang Lang joining the National Symphony Orchestra. He will perform three Beethoven concerti, as well as piano recitals featuring a variety of repertoire. - Brett Zongker
Kennedy Center: http://www.kennedy-center.org/
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