Now On Stage

The Curtain Is Rising To Reveal A Theater Season Filled With Top Performances



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Romance—comic, tragic, vengeful and fiery—fuels the Opera’s Season 39, beginning with Verdi’s Falstaff, a rollicking and convoluted comedy of disguises and practical jokes (Norfolk, Sept. 27–Oct. 1).

The Beach won’t get a VOA Verdi this year, but it will get some Mozart, of whom there can be no excess. The Magic Flute, a literally fantastic whirl of magic and parallel parings, inaugurates the new VOA Sandler series (Norfolk, Nov. 8–12; Virginia Beach, Nov. 15 and 16).

Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, which turns 101 this month, packs threatened tragedy inside a farcical collision between the broad and the high toned, a burlesque and a short opera within another opera (Norfolk, Feb. 7–11, Virginia Beach, Feb. 9 and 11).

Surely every theater goer has heard of Carmen, Bizet’s psychologically modern tragedy of obsessive love and stalking, of a passion whose ending is as deadly and foregone as a bull fight (Norfolk, March 21–25; Virginia Beach, March 28 and 29).

Even Carmen’s bloody ending pales beside the grinding grand guignol of Stephen Sondheim’s tonsorial demonic, Victorian London’s ultimate anti-hero, Sweeney Todd (Norfolk, May 9–11; Virginia Beach, May 16 and 17).

Along with the Opera House, Norfolk 23510 is home to the Virginia Stage Company and Chrysler Hall. Those two are neighbors, but approach theater from (figuratively) opposite directions.

VSC staff can sound politely, patiently frustrated when folks don’t realize that the fully professional non-profit Stage Company shows are locally created, but that the neighboring and wholly commercial “Broadway in Norfolk series” are imports.

The “Locally Grown, Nationally Known” VSC shows tend to be more adventurous, even when the company is playing things relatively safe.

At Chrysler Hall, the most important play leads off:

That’s Bernstein and Sondheim’s immortal West Side Story, which was merely contemporary in 1957, but now seems prescient for its look at Anglo-Hispanic divisions in America. (Nov. 22–23)