Easy Escapes: Follow the Maestro

By: Eleanor Berman

Standing ovations are par for the course for the gifted young performers at the Castleton Festival, entering its fourth season on the sylvan Rappahannock County estate of the great maestro, 82-year-old Lorin Maazel.

Maazel, former music director of the Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, founded and funded this festival to give a new generation the encouragement he received as a young prodigy. He recently sold his prized 1783 violin for more than $1 million to help establish a permanent endowment.

More than 200 of the world's most promising singers and musicians are chosen each year to receive six weeks of training and the chance to perform in operas and concerts. The coming season features 17 performances, June 22 through July 22. Rossini's The Barber of Seville, Bizet's Carmen, and Sondheim's A Little Night Music are among the highlights.

Performances take place in a spacious, air-conditioned, tented theater that was completed last summer. Tickets range from $20 to $120.

The Inn at Mount Vernon Farm is an ideal place to stay if you are attending the Castleton Festival. Click to view full size. Photo by Molly M Peterson.

Castleton is about 70 miles southwest of DC. An ideal place to stay overnight is the nearby Inn at Mount Vernon Farm, opened last year in an 1827 home that has been in one family for six generations. The hilltop house offers original wood beams, fireplaces, antiques, and luxurious new baths. Delicious breakfasts include treats from the surrounding 840-acre farm. Rooms start at $249 a night; festival-goers get a 10-percent discount.

Castleton Festival, Castleton, Va. The Inn at Mount Vernon Farm, Sperryville, Va.; 800-765-0604.

This article appears in the April 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.