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Subject: WNO's Young Artists recital series takes off like a supersonic jet (10-21-17)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 23 Oct 2017 12:55:52 -0400

text/plain (135 lines)

Saturday night was the first of what we can only hope will be many Washington national Opera Doming-Cafritz Young Artists' Recitals with the debut of a new series instigated by the program's director of just over a year, Rob Ainsley, who also played the piano brilliantly and offered up superb explanations of each song and so much more.

The recital was held literally across the street from our home at the magnificent Kreeger Museum, designed by Frank Johnson as the one-time home of Washington Opera Chairman/President/board member and major patron, David Lloyd Kreeger. As we arrived and sipped wine on the gorgeous terrace overlooking the outdoor pool and parkland we were able to mosey around and enjoy Mr. Kreeger's amazing art collection, now open to the public. The museum was recently reorganized and renovated and it looks so much better with the art organized by room; our cheese platters were surrounded by Picassos and Braques! 

The main hall may hold a bit more than 100 seated guests for a concert with a magnificent Steinway at one end surrounded by Monets, Cezanne, Munch and more which Mr. Ainsley spoke of at length as he took us on a musical journey through time of both art and musical styles.

Leah Hawkins, soprano

Allegra De Vita, mezzo-soprano

Frederick Ballentine, tenor

Robert Ainsley, piano

Les berceaux

Fleur jete


Le travail du peintre:

I.Pablo Picasso

II.Marc Chagall

III.Georges Brauqes

(De Vita)





Le grenouillere

Les chemins de l'amour



from Seiben Fruhe Lieder:



Die Nachtigall

(De Vita)





La statue de bronze

Je te veux

(De Vita)



The Storm


The Lilacs

Spring Waters


William Grant Still:Poeme (Hawkins)

I have had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Ballentine many times over the last several years from Wolf Trap to WNO to his most recent Sportin' Life at Glimmerglass and the Messenger in WNO's recent Aida. Francesca Zambello meniotned recently that many Aida Messengers have gone on to become famous Radames, and I think Mr. Ballentine's voice is developing more and more each time we hear him. Who know what is next! Additionally, his dramatic agitation and intensity, especially in "Fleur jete" made for a simply perfect presentation.

As I mentioned, Mr. Ainsley's remarks were a highlight (I told him he could become the Steven Blier of WNO & DC recitals!) as he spoke of musical cubism being reflected in the Picassos and Braques around us while the Poulenc offered major and minor chords at the same time to accent that feel. Ms. De Vita gave us an amazing vocal picture in her Poulenc rendition.

I am quite sure the three Respighi songs were my first hearing of these wonderful works and I truly can't ever recall a young artist intoning such feeling in a lied, but then we have rarely had lieder recitals by these young talents! Mr. Ballentine made us feel his agony!

Ms. Hawkins had the audience swaying along with her "Les chemins de l'amour" and what a treat to have such a huge dramatic soprano in this oh so intimate space. Top this with an elevated glissando upwards at the beginning of the last verse and my skin was tingling.

This was a very special evening and I can only hope the WNO YA program will do more and more of these superb soirees.

ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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