There is a point in every tragedy in which the hero’s life begins to unravel. In Giuseppe Verdi’s 1851 grand opera Rigoletto, that moment for the Duke of Mantua’s lowly court jester is the curse. The curse, in the libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, brings about the downfall of an outwardly grotesque yet inwardly noble man. With some of Verdi’s most beloved melodies and music in all of the repertory, Opera Omaha‘s current production is a compelling contrast between pure tenderness and vengeance.
That contrast is never clearer than in the scenes and duets between Fabián Veloz as Rigoletto and his precious daughter Gilda, performed by Rachele Gilmore. Their tender and well-balanced duet singing juxtaposed his world-weariness and her innocence. Gilmore’s “Caro nome” was vocally buoyant and pure as was her singing throughout the rest of the evening. She clearly feels comfortable with this show-stopping aria and I was almost surprised that the audience did not clamor for an encore immediately after hearing her pitch perfect interpolated high E at the conclusion. Veloz, on the other hand, began to defiantly open up and explore new vocal colors at the end of the second act through the final act. His “Cortigiani, vil razza dannata” was full of desperation and fearless rage against a backdrop of seeming adolescents. The impassioned singing he displayed with “Piangi, fanciulla, piangi…” grew to an emotionally wrenching “Oh, mia figlia! No, lasciarmi non dêi” displaying the full weight of the curse’s fate. Director Stephanie Havey‘s use of the red scrim to split the stage throughout the show made a powerful separation of Rigoletto from the other characters with a half lowered curtain — an almost Rothko-like stage picture to frame these inwardly emotional moments.
Dinyar Vania as the Duke of Mantua was a true vacillating character between the contrast of inwardly noble Rigoletto and Gilda and the grotesque Sparafucile and Maddalena perhaps being even more fickle than his famous aria “La donna è mobile” suggests of women. Vania’s most vocally compelling moments were the beginning of Act II with “Parmi veder le lagrime.” Audrey Babcock‘s Maddalena was every bit the bad girl with a luscious voice to match which never lost its presence in the third act quartet. Her seductive foil to Gilda’s purity made the second act sparkle with tension. Finally, the barbarous Sparafucile as performed by Burak Bilgili bristled with a truly ominous low F in suit with his sinister look. Heath Huberg as Borsa, Adam Cannedy as Marullo, Tyler Putnam as Count Ceprano, and Amanda DeBoer as Countess Ceprano also added vitality, forward momentum, and skilled singing to the production.
The Opera Omaha production of Rigoletto builds the tension both musically and dramatically to the final outcomes of the curse. Yet, it is not the terrible fate of the curse alone but the contrast between the grotesque and noble that makes this production compelling. There is one more opportunity to catch this emotionally compelling performance at the Orpheum Theater on Sunday, October 19th, 2014.
by Judah Adashi, Founder and Artistic Director of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series
Dear Sybaritic faithful: my apologies for the delay in writing and sharing Part II of my guest post. In Part I: The M-Word, I addressed the challenges faced by artists who do their own fundraising. I’m pleased to report that we have since reached our Kickstarter goal for the 10th anniversary season of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series in Baltimore! We’ve also presented our first concert of the season, featuring the beautiful music of Caroline Shaw. That event, along with a recent concert I put together at the Peabody Institute, serve as a springboard to my thoughts below.
Part II: Putting on a Show
“As you say, the series is just starting up; the first show is…[laughs] ‘show;’ that’s not what you call a classical music recital, is it?”
This was Aaron Henkin, host of WYPR’s The Signal in Baltimore, sheepishly correcting himself on air during an interview we did a few weeks ago. Little did he know that he had stumbled upon something very much on my mind these days. If musicians aren’t putting on a show, what exactly are we doing, and why would we expect anyone to attend?
I started thinking about this in earnest after attending a Peabody Percussion Group concert at the Peabody Institute last spring. Both the performance and the space were divided into three segments, each associated with a different percussion setup and repertoire. In addition to conservatory students, the event also featured guest artists and alumni.
As the evening unfolded, it occurred to me that virtually no other department does anything like this. The student percussionists, mentored passionately by my colleague Bob Van Sice, didn’t merely offer an account (a “recital”) of music learned over the course of a semester. The repertoire was compelling, and the performances were impressive, but these were only two aspects of an event that was much more than the sum of its parts. This was a show: a spectacle, in the best sense of the word.
This idea of creating a multidimensional experience for the audience is increasingly what motivates me as a presenter (and as a composer, but perhaps this is a subject for another post). As the artistic director of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, I try to construct shows that offer an organic and uninterrupted flow, not unlike an album or playlist. I am partial to 75 to 90-minute programs, usually about an hour of music, ideally with no intermission and no need for changes in stage setup. I’ve also experimented with spoken, instrumental and electronic interludes to facilitate personnel changes and transitions between pieces, as well as multimedia, lighting and staging elements.
A few examples of events that I’ve organized on the Evolution Series and at Peabody:
- In May 2013, we ended the 8th season of the Evolution Series with an evening of music by John Luther Adams. In between performances of John’s solo and chamber works, the composer read aloud from his own writings, most memorably his powerful piece entitled “Global Warming and Art.”
- In September 2014, we kicked off the 10th anniversary season of the Evolution Series with composer Caroline Shaw. Caroline shares my preference for a seamless evening (as she aptly put it, “more like a theatre piece than a regular concert”). We divided the program and the small stage into three sections – a piano, a percussion setup, and a string quartet – with the musicians entering and exiting as Caroline improvised short interludes on her violin and loop pedal. Since the program opened with a solo cello piece inspired by a candlelit church service, we arranged two dozen candles at the front of the stage; these remained lit throughout the show.
- Also last month, I presented the first concert on Peabody’s 2014-15 Sylvia Adalman Chamber Series. For this event, I brought together faculty, staff, students, alumni and guests behind a simple concept: repeating bass lines throughout music history (the inspiration came from an essay by New Yorker music critic Alex Ross). The program ranged from early music to new music and jazz, again with quasi-improvised, electroacoustic transitions. We quite literally cross-faded between pieces, using lighting to delineate a separate space for the interlude performances. As at the Caroline Shaw event, applause was welcomed and gratefully received, but never disrupted the arc of the show.
All of this is nothing new, of course. Most of it is standard fare in a jazz or pop concert. In the contemporary-music world, theatrical sensibilities are championed by artists like eighth blackbird; their recent performance of Amy Beth Kirsten’s Colombine’s Paradise Theater comes to mind. Such ideas also have a vibrant life in alternative venues, as classical musicians have ventured out into bars, clubs, and beyond.
I think we benefit from bringing aspects of the alternative venue back into the concert hall. We don’t need to discard all of the conventions of classical performance, but they should be questioned. It’s important to ask ourselves why we expect people to come hear us make music, and what kind of vibe we’re trying to create around it. Playing great music very well is rarely enough, and curating a concert should involve more than good programming.
Turning a performance into an inviting, communal experience goes beyond the concert itself. On the Evolution Series, every show opens with a pre-concert conversation, and is followed by a wine reception. For a slightly higher ticket price, we also offer an “Extended Play” event at a local coffee shop, an after party with food, drink, and a bonus track performed by the featured artists.
During a recent visit with composers and singers in a summer program offered by Rhymes with Opera (an organization that excels at smart, inventive presentation), I made an analogy between a concert and a party. In both cases, there is an art to planning the flow of an evening, greeting guests, and engaging them through conversation, music, and more. The endgame is the same: imagine the world you want to create, and be generous and entertaining with your audience. When live music is shared in this way, the experience can be transformative.
The music of composer Judah Adashi has been described as “beguiling” (Alex Ross, New Yorker) and “elegant” (Steve Smith, Boston Globe). Dr. Adashi has been honored with awards, grants and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP and BMI Foundations, the American Composers Forum, New Music USA and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A committed musical organizer, advocate and educator, Dr. Adashi is the founder and artistic director of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, noted for having “elevated and enriched Baltimore’s new music scene enormously” (Baltimore Sun). He is also on the composition and music theory faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Adashi holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Peabody, and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University.
The Evolution Contemporary Music Series, founded in 2005 and directed by composer and Peabody Institute faculty member Judah Adashi, is a Baltimore-based concert series dedicated to the music of living composers. Praised by Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun for having “elevated and enriched Baltimore’s new music scene enormously,” and by the Baltimore City Paper as “superb…not the same-old, same-old,” the Evolution Series has presented or premiered works by over 75 composers, performed by acclaimed musicians from Baltimore and beyond. Events regularly include pre-concert conversations with performers, composers, critics and scholars. Featured guests have included Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; composers Caroline Shaw and John Luther Adams; and music critics Tim Page (Washington Post) and Alex Ross (New Yorker).
I was honored when Megan invited me to contribute a guest post to The Sybaritic Singer. Like Megan herself, the blog has done a lot of good in the contemporary music world. Megan suggested that I address behind-the-scenes aspects of directing a concert series. My two-part post will consider practical and philosophical issues that have been on my mind as the Evolution Contemporary Music Series celebrates ten years of bringing new music to Baltimore.
Part I: The M-Word
There’s an M-word in the arts: money.
We need money, but we don’t like to talk about it. The word itself isn’t offensive, but we routinely opt for euphemisms like “backing” and “support.”
It’s a strange business asking people for money, especially friends and family, or fellow artists who we know don’t have much to spare. If you’re a presenter, you may have already had to offer your peers more modest compensation than they deserve.
The Evolution Contemporary Music Series – a Baltimore-based concert series dedicated to the music of living composers – has sustained a steady artistic ascent since I founded it in 2005, but our finances haven’t always kept pace. The work has been a labor of love for all involved. Given artists’ natural tendency to concentrate on creating and sharing art at the highest possible level, it’s dangerously easy to treat other dimensions of our enterprise as secondary, especially securing the money needed to realize a meaningful vision.
I feel comfortable with two of the important M’s in our field, music and messaging, but money is more of a challenge. As I continue to inch along the learning curve in the art of development, here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Fundraising isn’t a one-person job. More to the point, it isn’t the sole province of an artistic director. The Evolution Series has belatedly but necessarily added a managing director, Wesley Thompson (a former series intern) and a nascent board. Though I believe it’s critical to share my own time and passion in order to engage donors, I can’t do it alone, and can better serve the series by focusing my energies on the music and musicians at the heart of what we do.
- The Evolution Series had the privilege of presenting the outstanding, highly successful International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in our 6th and 7th seasons. Following one of their concerts, an after-party was hosted by an old friend of the group’s then-director of development. The event took place in a beautiful apartment across the street from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where I have spent 25 years of my life as a student or faculty member. I had never been in this elegant building, nor did I know most of the guests. When I mentioned this to one of the “Icicles,” he told me: “We learned a long time ago that musicians spend far too much time with other musicians.”
- Finally, one of my Johns Hopkins University colleagues (notably, on the medicine side) recently articulated this fundamental principle: “You have to ask.”
So here’s the ask. The Evolution Series is in the final days of a Kickstarter campaign to fund our 10th anniversary season. This season will be one of our biggest and best yet, featuring several of our favorite musicians: Pulitzer Prize winners Caroline Shaw and David Lang, standout Peabody Conservatory alumna Amy Beth Kirsten, and one of the world’s finest ensembles, So Percussion.
In exchange for your backing – your money – we’re offering exclusive rewards associated with the music and people that will bring this year’s Evolution Series to life. A Kickstarter project is only funded if it meets or surpasses its goal, so the best way to support us is to make your pledge today and then spread the word.
Thanks so much for reading and, I hope, contributing. In my next post, I’ll share a few thoughts about presenting concerts in the 21st century.
About Judah Adashi
Said to be “embarked on a promising career” (Washington Post), composer Judah Adashi has been honored with awards, grants and commissions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP and BMI Foundations, the American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer and the Aspen Music Festival, as well as residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. A committed musical organizer, advocate and educator, Dr. Adashi is the founder and artistic director of the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, noted for having “elevated and enriched Baltimore’s new music scene enormously” (Baltimore Sun). He is also on the composition and music theory faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Adashi holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Peabody, and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. For more information, please visit judahadashi.com.
About the Evolution Contemporary Music Series
The Evolution Contemporary Music Series, founded in 2005 and directed by composer and Peabody Institute faculty member Judah Adashi, is a Baltimore-based concert series dedicated to the music of living composers. Praised by Tim Smith of the Baltimore Sun for having “elevated and enriched Baltimore’s new music scene enormously,” and by the Baltimore City Paper as “superb…not the same-old, same-old,” the Evolution Series has presented or premiered works by over 75 composers, performed by acclaimed musicians from Baltimore and beyond. Events regularly include pre-concert conversations with performers, composers, critics and scholars. Featured guests have included Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; composers Missy Mazzoli and John Luther Adams; and music critics Tim Page (Washington Post) and Alex Ross (New Yorker).
Hello kind readers! My name is the Voracious Vocalist and I am a friend and colleague of the esteemed Sybaritic Singer. After spending an afternoon re-reading Sybie’s fabulous blog, one sentence really struck chord with me and highlighted an idea that I feel like I am constantly proselytizing myself. On Day 7 of this year’s fantastic #28DaysToDiva series our author wrote, “one of the most important points is that we cobble together the career that works for each of us individually – not just a generic idea of a successful singing career.”
I have seen so many young singers angst over getting into just the right college, so they can proceed to obsess over the very best graduate school. Then they zoom in on young artist programs and plan out how they will certainly proceed to management auditions and then the obligatory comprimario roles blah blah blah… and voila! They surely will be “successful” and happy and true vocal artists and all that. Right. Well, I have watched dozens of times how these same singers become baffled when Step A, doesn’t really guarantee Step B, or Step C for that matter. A classical singer’s career has no guaranteed linear progression. Forward momentum is, of course, absolutely necessary and obligatory (this blog is a perfect resource to research this topic). Move forward or perish – like a shark, dear readers. However, the arts world is not some corporate worlds. There is no one ladder. Folks jump rungs and rappel to other ladders entirely.
The so-called singing “career path” is a myth that sets up most young singers for disappointment and confusion. Besides, we are creative types – a singular, narrow ladder/path keeps us much too focused on a small range of artistic opportunities. Instead, I encourage you to leave the ordinary path and discover new ones of your own. Don’t be afraid to dive off-course into the sometimes thorny – but much more invigorating – undergrowth! It will stretch you as an artist and open you up as a musical entrepreneur to new projects and markets. Take a straight theatre audition, make a connection with a new composer, volunteer for an arts organization, try directing – or painting, or writing, or skiing. Take a shot at the new day job that will give you a new perspective on yourself and your capabilities. In fact, do it all at once. Because there is no career “path” – just a wide, wild, ever-expanding career meadow. Make your own paths all across that meadow. Many of them. Because we are artists and one narrow, crowded path? Well, that’s just not the place for us. Frolic in the meadow, folks. It’s waiting for you!
Courtney Kalbacker is a dedicated opera performer and production professional based in Baltimore, MD. She has taken on many roles both on and off stage including serving as Director of Production at Opera Anne Arundel Community College, an AGMA Stage Manager at Lyric Opera Baltimore, and as a Stage Director at Silver Finch Arts Collective, Unmanned Stagecraft, Oklahoma City University and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Since moving to the area three years ago, she has also performed as a coloratura soprano with D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival, Lyric Opera Baltimore, The Victorian Lyric Opera Company, Harford Choral Society, HUB Opera Ensemble, Silver Finch Arts Collective and at venues abroad including the Warsaw Chamber Opera and Kingshead Theatre (London). Most recently her production and performance of the new one-woman opera The Young Wife (K. Brochocka) won “Pick of the Fringe – Best Opera or Musical Theatre” at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival. More info at www.CourtneyKalbacker.com.
Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
I know it has been quiet around these parts lately. As many of you know, we just made a big move across the country to San Diego, California. Thank you for your patience while we get settled and I get back into a regular writing groove.
As I readily accept the challenge of joining new communities, finding a soul-enriching job, and reaching for more musical opportunities, I thought about the communities, jobs, and opportunities that I had in Baltimore since 2007. I would never have guessed that this would have been part of the path. But, I’m sure glad it’s turned out this way. What parts of your destiny are you ready to say “yes” to right now?
With great affection,
From April 6 to 13, Washington D.C. area audiences will get to hear a cross-section of Louis Andriessen’s most important recent work in a festival celebrating his upcoming 75th birthday. Developed and curated by Armando Bayolo, founder of Great Noise Ensemble and new music curator at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, Andriessen 75 features a host of premieres and defining works by the honored composer, alongside pieces and performances by some of his most noted collaborators, students and friends.
Of greatest interest to the Sybaritic Faithful will likely be the concert performance of Andriessen’s 2008 work “La Commedia.” Based on Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” the composition is a treasure trove of vocal colors, musical references from jazz to chant to off-kilter Bernstein, and dramatic flair. This particular performance Sunday, April 6, 2014, 6:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art West Garden Court does not include the accompanying film by director Hal Hartley but it will feature one of the original performers, Cristina Zavalloni as Dante. “The journey is not clear-cut,” writes Mark Swed in his review for the LA Times, “but Dante — in the form of the extraordinarily versatile mezzo-soprano, jazz singer and new music specialist Cristina Zavalloni — descends into the horrible city of Dis and also enters a purgatory fashioned after Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Zavalloni will be joined on stage by soprano Lindsey Kesselman as Beatrice and Andrew Sauvageau as Lucifer/Cacciaguida. The intrepid new music folks at Shenandoah Conservatory are also participating in this exciting festival offering two performances featuring the EDGE Ensemble, Aeolus Quartet, and Shenandoah Conservatory Wind Ensemble. Check out their schedule here.
“It’s amazing how much American culture has influenced my music. If not for the music of jazz and American avant-garde composers, such as John Cage and Robert Graettinger, I would have been a different composer. My connection to American music is perhaps one of the reasons why Armando Bayolo and other Washington area organizations are able to organize this festival today. I am honored that my music will be celebrated in Washington, D.C.” – Louis Andriessen
The journey is not clear-cut, but Dante — in the form of the extraordinarily versatile mezzo-soprano, jazz singer and new music specialist Cristina Zavalloni — descends into the horrible city of Dis and also enters a purgatory fashioned after Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” – See more at: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/04/music-review-la-commedia-at-the-green-umbrella-concert-at-disney-hall.html#sthash.GvwViaB2.dpuf
You will not want to miss the events at the Atlas Performing Arts Center either! Get tickets to any of the Atlas Performing Arts Center performances here.
- Monday, April 7, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Atlas Performing Arts Center
Roadmaps and Diaries II
Monica Germino, violin and voice
Frank van der Weij, sound design
Louis Andriessen: Xenia
Julia Wolfe: with a blue dress on
Michael Gordon: INDUSTRY
Donnacha Dennehy: Overstrung
- Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 8:00p.m.
Atlas Performing Arts Center
Andriessen’s Piano/Andriessen’s Jazz
Molly Orlando, piano
Francesca Hurst, piano
Brad Linde Jazz Ensemble
Image de Moreau (U.S. première of the complete collection)
Louis Andriessen: On Jimmy Yancey
Monument to Graettinger (U.S. Premiere)
That Happens in Vietnam
The Family Revisited (U.S. Premiere)
- Friday, April 11, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Atlas Performing Arts Center
Andriessen and Friends
Bang on a Can All Stars
Louis Andriessen: Life
David Lang: Cheating, Lying, Stealing
Michael Gordon: I Buried Paul
Julia Wolfe: Believing
Steve Martland: Horses of Instruction
“Louis Andriessen’s influence on American composers and musicians of the post-Baby Boom generations is well-documented, as is the influence of American music on him. His music and aesthetics have had an enormous impact upon my own work, both as composer and as an advocate for the music of our time. The current mood in contemporary concert music—optimistic, energetic, informal, irreverent, fun—can be directly attributed to Louis. It is for this reason that, as the Washington new music scene continues to grow and its national presence expands, we wish to honor Andriessen’s work on the occasion of his 75th birthday.” – Armando Bayolo, curator of Andriessen 75
In case you’re in the mood to get started right away. Here’s a playlist from Boosey & Hawkes to light your fire.
It was a lover and his lass that made last night’s audience fall in love all over again during Washington National Opera‘s production of Donizetti‘s L’elisir d’amore. Held up as an ideal of bel canto singing, L’elisir d’amore is one of the favorite operas in the traditional repertory. The libretto, written by Felice Romani, tells the love story of two young inhabitants of a rural Basque village. The timid Nemorino relies on the elixir of a traveling snake oil salesman, a bottle of Bordeaux, to woo Adina before she marries the suave Sergeant Belcore. Stephen Costello, as Nemorino, and real-life wife Ailyn Pérez, as the sought-after Adina, captured the hearts of the audience. Even with a few musical hiccoughs throughout the evening, the performance is full of good clean fun and some thrilling singing.
Costello is a gem for Washington National Opera this season. He returns to the Kennedy Center Opera House stage after his recent performance as Greenhorn/Ishmael in Jake Heggie‘s Moby-Dick. If WNO audiences hadn’t already fallen for him in that production, they certainly melted for him as the lovesick Nemorino. Even though he looked a bit like the young Indiana Jones, he sounded every bit the bel canto lover. Costello ranged from such affectionate moments like “Una parole, Adina” to robust and intense as in his technically impressive “Dulcamara volo tosto a ricercar.” Which explains how he had the audience in the palm of his hand by the time the famous “Una furtiva lagrima” came along. The dynamic change as well as the silence he left between the “si può morir” phrases at the end of the aria were exquisite. Just before Nemorino’s notable aria, Pérez also stunned in her Act II duet “Quanto amore! Ed io, spietata, tormentai sì nobil cor!” with Nicola Ulivieri as Doctor Dulcamara. She exhibited brilliant singing throughout the evening but found her most free and expressive moments here. While her initial “Prendi” was extremely tender, Pérez sought such delicate pianissimo at other times that did not carry to the audience effectively. However, her dramatic push and pull with Costello was honest and enthralling (something tells me they might have a bit of an advantage here…)
Nemorino’s attempts to win Adina’s affection before she marries the renowned Sergent Belcore sung by Italian bass-baritone Simone Alberghini also offers many opportunities for push and pull from the main characters. Without even a hint of “woofiness”, Alberghini demonstrated clarity and agility in the rapid Donizetti vocal lines. He also seemed to relish in the chance to ham it up on stage. Classic physical comedy abounds in this production without devolving into cliché and the opening night audience certainly ate it up. Ulivieri’s Dulcamara also reveled in the humorous elements. These two characters are often responsible for bringing the staccato, marcato patter to balance the legato bel canto lines of the young lovers and both did so with great skill. Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Shantelle Przybylo also deserves a mention for her adorable turn as Giannetta. The passing-the-plates scene that she shares with the female chorus in which she describes how Nemorino has come into his new fortune was energetic and fun.
The overall production from Director Stephen Lawless, including set design by Johan Engels and lighting design by Joan Sullivan-Genthe, was refreshing. Sullivan-Genthe’s lighting design showed obvious consideration for visual story-telling. The production moves from a gorgeous sun-drenched opening through a carefully constructed storm and finally into a clear night. The strangest disappointment in this production were the handful of tempo disagreements between the stage and conductor Ward Stare that seemed to throw the trios and quartets off-kilter. It was undetermined what was causing the rift, but it was certainly noticeable.
Even with a few hiccoughs, it is true that sweet lovers really do love the spring. What better way to celebrate spring’s return than with this fun production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore at Washington National Opera? There are seven more opportunities to catch it with this and another cast featuring Sarah Coburn and Daniel Montenegro as Adina and Nemorino. Tickets and information can be found at the Kennedy Center Box Office, by calling (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324, or online at www.kennedy-center.org.