The Wolf Trap Opera opened its 2003 summer season last week with LA CLEMENZA
di TITO (which I will attend tonight), but waited a little longer this year to
present its opening Opera Recital which was held last night. This year's
group of young singers (15 of 16 sang as Nick Phan is at the Cardiff Competition
this week) is as good as ever and we had some pretty amazing performances last
There was no question in my mind that the NUMERO UNO, THREE STAR performance
of the evening came from New Zealand tenor, SIMON O'NEILL (who, alas, will
sing only Tito this summer and depart the company tomorrow already!) in "La mia
letizia infondere" from Verdi's I LOMBARDI. Folks, this is the real tenor with
that "Italianate THING" that we have all been looking for. Stand aside, three
tenors, here he comes!
Right behind him with another stellar performance was bass, MORRIS ROBINSON
with another Verdi gem, "Il lacerato spirito" from SIMON BOCCANEGRA. You might
mistake Mr. Robinson for Mr. T if you didn't hear him sing, but the voice is
easily as big as he is! A member of the Met's Lindemann Program, you can hear
him in DARDANUS next month.
I don't like giving places, but just right behind these two were two more
amazing performances. Returning alumni, STACEY RISHOI gave a magnificent
performance of Nicklausse's rarely heard aria, "Vois sous l'archet." Again, it seems
she too departs after the Tito performances.
Staying through the whole summer will be soprano, SARAH COBURN who sang "Una
voce poco fa" in a preview of August's BARBIERE. As I mentioned previously, I
prefer mezzo's as Rosina, but Ms. Coburn's super soprano rendition could well
change my mind! She was also the best looking and best dressed member of the
company, and a clear candidate for our new OPERA CALENDAR being amassed by Val!
Another preview of the summer program was returning tenor, ROSS HAUCK's
anguished largo "Lieux funestes" from Rameu's DARDANUS, followed by baritone, AARON
JUDISCH in a fun "Maxim's" from the Merry Widow, which will be featured in
the Summer Night in Vienna on July 6. Aaron also joined Sarah Coburn for the
finale in "Dunque io son" from BARBIERE as the final "preview." Aaron might also
appear on Val's calendar!
Not to belittle the other wonderful performances they were:
Soprano, CAROLYN BETTY (also returning) -"Dich teure Hall" from Tannhauser
whose voice easily filled the small barn, where Wolf Trap Opera director, Kim
Witman said, Wagner is rarely heard. Incidentally, Ms. Witman valiantly
accompanied everyone for the 90minute plus program!
"O du mein holder Abendstern" also from Tannhauser was the other Wagner
offering from another big-voiced baritone, MARCUS BEAM. The third German offering
was an amazingly expressive rendition of Kurt Weill's "Surbaya Johnny" by
mezzo-soprano, AUDREY BABCOCK.
Mezzo-soprano, ANGELA NIEDERLOH gave us "Non piu mesta" from Rossini's LA
CENERENTOLA; Soprano, MIRANDA ROWE an appropriately depressed "Adieu, notre
petite table" from MANON, and returning mezzo, MARIE LENORMAND a hysterically
drunken PERICHOLE in Offenbach's "Ah, quel diner."
Last but not least, and not in any particular order were newcomers, bass,
MATT BOEHLER in SWEENEY TODD's "There was a barber and his wife;" soprano,
KRISTIN REIERSEN in "Caro nome;" and bass-baritone, MATTHEW BURNS "Old Man River,"
which was also a standout.
I am never cease to be impressed how Wolf Trap maintains the highest
standards in a summer intern program. What I like the best is that the singers here in
Vienna, Virginia actually sing all the roles, rather than covering or
appearing in minor parts. Many of our singers have apprenticed at Santa Fe, St. Louis
and Glimmerglass amongst other summer programs, but I can't help feeling that
they get something really special and different each time they get chosen to
be in the WOLF TRAP OPERA.
ALAN J. SAVADA, CTC
<<Uns is gegeben, daß wir immer meinen, anderswo wäre das Glück, und so
beneiden wir alle, die anders sind.>>--Reisebuch aus den Österreichen Alpen by
It is our lot always to imagine that happiness lies elsewhere, and so we envy
all things that are different.
<<The lure of travel set my heart afire>>--Erich Korngold from DIE TOTE STADT
<<If you ask me what I came into this world to do,
I will tell you I came to live out loud>>--Emile Zola
****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!>>