It could have been a Mission Impossible for Gérard Araud to pull off a spectacular birthday party for Washington National Opera’s Maestro Philippe Auguin, but it wasn’t. The Ambassador of France did just that at his Kalorama residence with guests that included Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who shared her love of opera with her late dear friend Justice Antonin Scalia.
“You know our friend is going to climb the Everest of music in the coming months,” noted Ambassador Araud. “The Ring (Der Ring des Nibelungen), is one of the most difficult pieces of opera.” The Ring, a cycle of four operas by Richard Wagner, is also one of the most exciting pieces of opera. “Actually, it will be very very unusual – not only will he conduct, but he will sing, because as you know, there are some financial problems.” WNO underwent financial struggles in recent years that ended up in a merger with The Kennedy Center intended to stabilize the opera company. Under the new structure, the Washington National Opera maintains a separate board; separate endowment and donations designated for the opera are spent on the opera. Otherwise, the organizations’ finances and programming decisions are made jointly . “So I think we have to adjust to reality- so it’s perfect. Auguin is perfect, and he can adjust, and he can do anything, so thank you Philip.”