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Subject: Washington National Opera's Board of Trustees dinner and magnificent mini-concert by Angela Meade & Soloman Howard(5-16-17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 17 May 2017 12:06:29 -0400

text/plain (29 lines)

Each year major donors at the WNO are invited to a wonderful dinner and mini-concert, often in a truly magnificent setting. This year was even more special as outgoing Chairman of the Board Jaqueline Mars chose the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for her farewell feast. As we arrived hor's d'oevres were passed in the sumptuous gallery while we sipped champagne, martinis, or whatever you wanted.

about 70 of us were ushered into the dining room where Minted (I removed the mint leaves:-)) Pea Soup with Leeks and Crème Fraiche awaited us. Jackie welcomed us and announced this dinner would also salute outgoing Executive Director Michael Mael after more than a decade of service to the company.

First introduced was bass Soloman Howard, graduate of our lauded Doming-Cafritz Young Artists Program and who returned recently to WNO to star in Appomattox and will come again next year for Aida. He gave us a glorious rendition of the title song from Weil's Lost In The Stars which boomeranged around the not so wonderfully acoustical hall! Soprano Angela Meade previewed her role as Alcina next season with "Ma quando tornerai," and I was astonished at her Handelian capabilities as she indeed said she had only sung Handel once before in school! This aria is a killer and her coloratura was simply OUT OF THIS WORLD. I am super thrilled that she returns to open this work with a superb cast on November 4 in the intimate Eisenhower Theater (where opera hasn't been done by WNO for some years!). She came right back with no break to sing a spectacular "Pace pace mio dio" from Verdi's Forza and we all stood up in an amazing ovation!

Pianist Michael Baitzer was a superb accompanist as well and I have to say, these two really did "sing for their supper," as we next enjoyed Lavender Rack of Lamb, Corn Souffle Timbale, Asparagus and Caramelized Sunchokes.

Presentations were made to both honorees as well as an award to board member Anne Kline Pohanka. Mr. Mael accepted a magnificent 7 foot tall totem, akin to the staff of the Ring giants (given to him by Mr. Howard, who was Fafner last year), which had all the productions of his tenure emblazoned on it. His speech moved me to tears and he shall be sorely missed, but he did get a lifetime WNO subscription!

Ms. Mars received a gift as well, but hers was a silvery staff with spear, akin to that of Wotan!

What a wonderful evening it was indeed!

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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