A cursory glance at my Facebook newsfeed reminds me just how busy everyone reports to be. I do not disagree that singers have fast-paced, jam-packed schedules and that it is usually a necessary evil. It just seems that we are always running. Luckily, we are often the people who spend the most time immersed in beauty and art; granted, they are often hidden from our consciousness by the fact that we are working. Although I have cursed traffic more times this week than I would like to admit, I intend to take a moment here to publicly acknowledge the beauty and art I have recently experienced.
Saturday April 14th
I settled into an intimate evening concert on Saturday night courtesy of the Tiffany Series at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. Under the sparkle of their eleven original Tiffany stained glass windows, Janice Chandler Eteme wooed an audience with her velvety soprano voice. She sang many tried and true favorites such as Oh! had I Jubal’s lyre, Nacht und Träume, and Notre Amour. Perhaps due to acoustics or stylistic choice, her Gretchen am Spinnrade was noticeably slower than most. However, she sung with such intensity the piece took on a different sense of madness and heaviness of heart. Full disclosure: I have a biased soft-spot for Margaret Bonds‘ He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand. In Chandler Eteme’s care, the piece was near divine.
It was also a treat to hear Baltimore-based tenor Devin Mercer step up to the plate in the duet Parigi O Cara from La Traviata. He even got a shout-out in Tim Smith’s review – which you can read here.
Sunday April 15th
If I ever tell you that I’m planning on driving back and forth to D.C. twice in one day – please stop me. Lucky for me, the musical experiences of the day made me forget the discomfort of Baltimore/D.C. traffic. First, I subbed for a friend’s church job in D.C. If you are singer in the area, you should join our Facebook groups dedicated to finding reliable, classically trained subs.
and, for accompanists or those seeking accompanists: Baltimore Area Vocal Accompanists
For the second trek of the day, I traveled to Arlington, VA in search of interesting, short, and contemporary operas. Urban Arias is a two-year old opera company dedicated to producing engaging, entertaining, accessible operas for DC-area audiences. They work with established and emerging composers to present short opera works. I happened to write about this performance for my friends at OperaPulse.
By Megan Ihnen | Published on Apr 18, 2012
Washington D.C. based Urban Arias has a marketing line that goes something like, “if you want a quickie, we’re your opera company.” If by “quickie” they mean short, interesting, and satisfying then they are fulfilling their goal with their current production Booze and Cigarettes: A Double-Bill. This evening of one-acts featured Thomas Pasatieri’s emotionally stirring Before Breakfast and Peter Hilliard’s opera buffa The Filthy Habit.
Tuesday April 17
Stepping away from the usual musical performances that fill my schedule, I went to see The Whipping Man (written by Matthew Lopez; directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah) at Centerstage, State Theater of Maryland. Playwright Lopez describes the basis of the work,
In one Southern home in April 1865, two slaves and their former master, all self-identifying Jews, celebrate the observance of Pesach together. As they do, they each come to realize the immensity of the moment they find themselves in and of the tremendous scars, both real and psychological, the bear from their encounter with slavery. It is the story about when history ends and life begins again, much like the springtime in which the story is set.
It is no surprise why The Whipping Man has become one of the most regularly produced new American plays since its première in 2006. The emotion is raw and immediate throughout. Michael Micalizzi (Caleb), Kevyn Morrow (Simon), and Johnny Ramey (John) give intense performances marked with tender fraternity as well as profound rage.
Saturday April 21
I am about to spend my weekend with the lovely singers in the Handel Choir of Baltimore as we present Handel’s Semele under the direction of Melinda O’Neal. “This performance is Semele’s Charm City première. It could be a very long time before you get another chance to hear this work in concert in Baltimore, with excellent guest soloists and period instrument orchestra.”
I am looking forward to the performance and hope that you’ll be there too. If so, make sure to drop a line in the comments so we can meetup.
I hope that your week is filled with inspiring and uplifting performances, both your own and those that you attend as audience members.