There is so much to tell you. And very shortly, I will do so. Until then, this is a great place to start: www.wolftrap.org/opera
2014 will bring us a new roster of fabulous principal singers, a talented group of Studio Artists, an iconic Baroque opera, a top-ten grand opera in the amphitheatre, and two rare French gems. And more, of course.
I’ll be back in a few days to tell stories of how we got here and what to expect at Wolf Trap Opera this summer. Tickets are on sale now to Wolf Trap members and become available to the general public on March 29.
Got a few more minutes? I would like to introduce the 2014 Filene Young Artists! Click on the headshots for more information on each of them.
Left to right,
Sopranos Mireille Asselin, Tracy Cox, Ying Fang & Melinda Whittington
Mezzo-sopranos Maya Lahyani, Renée Rapier, Carolyn Sproule & Virginie Verrez
Countertenors John Holiday & Eric Jurenas
Tenors Kevin Ray & Robert Watson
Baritones Norman Garrett, Tobias Greenhalgh & Joo Won Kang
Bass-baritones Jeongcheol Cha & Ryan Speedo Green
When we learned that the best date for Ryan McKinny to sing Schubert’s hauntingly beautiful Winterreise at The Barns this season was March 7, I thought that perhaps we would all be consumed by spring fever by this time of the year. Guess I was wrong. And although I am as ready for warmer temperature as any of you, it’s somehow fitting that I spend this office-is-closed-snow-day at home with my piano, the composer Schubert and the poet Müller, absorbing the remaining lessons that winter has to teach me.
All of the Winterreise podcasts are now up here. You can listen to them directly from the web page. They’re between 3 and 10 minutes long; feel free to dip in and out. They are the completely subjective result of my own preparation to take this journey. (Over thirty years since I did so the last time…)
My husband and I are renovating a cabin in the West Virginia hills, and I spent the Presidents Day storm snowbound there for a couple of days. It was perfect inspiration to dive deeper into this story (post photos are from that weekend.)
If you are developing cabin fever and have time to join us on Friday night, there are indeed still some tickets available.
The rest of the Winter Journey. All of the Winterreise podcasts are here.
Podcast musical excerpts by bass-baritone Ryan McKinny and pianist Sharolyn Kimmorley, from the 2010 Sydney Festival
A continuation of our Winter Journey. Find all of the podcasts here.
Come with me on a winter journey. Yes, most of us are longing for spring. But there are still many beautiful and touching things that winter has to say to us before it goes.
Ryan McKinny and I have the privilege and pleasure of bringing Schubert’s Winterreise to The Barns on Friday, March 7. If you’re reading this from the DC area, I urge you to join us. As I prepare by immersing myself in this journey in song, I will be posting a series of 5 podcasts. Today’s entry: Songs 1 through 5.
There are so many exciting things I can’t tell you yet about summer 2014… But even though I can’t spill the beans until March 11, there are other stories to share while we wait.
Today, a shout out to someone who had a bigger impact on Wolf Trap than anyone I know. A few weeks ago, we celebrated the retirement of my boss Ann McKee, our Senior VP for Performing Arts & Education. Ann started her Wolf Trap career with the Opera Company in 1975, and she proceeded to crank out 39 years of unparalleled dedication, unflagging support, hard core enthusiasm, and tireless effort. (Her effect on my detail orientation surfaces even now as I debate the use of an Oxford comma in that previous sentence.) She believed in me when I was a musician making a mid-career transition to administration, and she climbed a whole bunch of mountains that solidified Wolf Trap’s reputation and made it the healthy robust organization it is.
So I want to point you here, even though this smacks a bit of self-promotion (a necessity in our business, of course, but something I generally steer clear of on the blog.) To honor Ann’s service to Wolf Trap, the Foundation has created an endowment fund in her name. And the Opera Company is extremely honored by her decision to target those funds in our direction in order to support future generations of young artists. Donations to the fund carry a beautiful 50% match, and gestures of all sizes are more than welcome. A fabulous way to thank a fabulous lady.
Looking ahead: I promise to tear myself away from the riveting work of generating artist contracts to share some of my thoughts as I prepare for Winterreise with Ryan McKinny. I know, I know… enough with winter already. But if you’re in the DC area on March 7, you really should come to The Barns. All of this snow and cold has made prep for this concert almost an organic, inevitable process. Many things are learned in the winters of our souls and our lives, and Schubert sheds beautiful light on them.
While we wait for our complete season announcement in early March, I realize that many of our loyal fans are trying to work us into their busy summer travel schedules. To that end, I offer up these dates for summer 2014, just in case it helps! I know that repertoire would be helpful too, but we’re not quite there yet… Allowing our choice of artists to shape the selection of repertoire is a critical part of our mission and an important part of our success, but it does mean that we aren’t able to get everything ready until late winter.
I do hope that I’ll see many of you at Wolf Trap this summer. We have a brilliant group of singers and some fascinating productions cooking. And it doesn’t hurt to dream about a time when the temperature stays out of the single digits for more than a few hours at a time…
Opera at The Barns
Opera at the Filene Center
Recitals & Concerts
Last weekend I had the honor of performing at a memorial service for two of Wolf Trap Opera’s longest and dearest friends, Keith and Barbara Severin. Today’s brief post is dedicated to them and to all of the beautiful people out there who donate their resources, time, energy and efforts to help sustain and promote companies like ours.
Our industry is pretty obsessed with attracting young patrons. Ideally, this obsession is focused on giving students and young adults a chance to discover opera so that some of them (let’s be real here: just a few of them, as opera is an amazing but very specific taste) can begin their lifelong love affair with Verdi. But too often our pursuit of youth careens out of control. One day we turn around and realize that we’re completely focused on trying to appeal to 20-somethings. And when we fail (as we will do in this exercise, again and again), that sense of failure seeps into our culture. Into our work. If the Millennials don’t flock into the theatre, something must be wrong.
Sorry; that was a little harsh. Of course, it’s incumbent on us to connect with every generation in a way that gives them a chance to get acquainted with opera. Not for a minute would I suggest that we close our art form off in a historical bubble with nary a thought about our future audience. What I do hate, though, is the way that the pursuit of all things hip has the potential to kick our current sustaining generation to the curb.
For sure, it’s flattering for a fusty old art form to brush itself off enough to be attractive to a busy younger generation. But every time I learn more about the fascinating lives lived by our older donors and patrons, I am struck by a feeling of gratitude and humility that these people choose to support us. These people, who have made a lifetime of valuable and varied contributions to the world around us – they choose us. Talk about being flattered.
I wasn’t sure where I was going with this, but I think I won’t edit it too severely. Please accept it in the spirit in which is was offered. And remember to thank all of the Keiths and Barbaras who lavish seemingly unending good will on your efforts.
Warm winter wishes go out to all of you from your friends at Wolf Trap!
Christmas came early here at WTOC, in the form of the news that we will be adding a new person to our year-round team. Know anyone who wants to help us make opera magic and promote the best amazing young talent in the business? Job posting here.
I’ll be back in 2014. Happy New Year, all!
Today’s post is for those of you who are fans of the Aria Frequency Lists, my annual autumn accounting of the popularity of various audition arias. Our audition application website captures singers’ arias lists (or “packages”) in a way that allows us to churn out this data every year. (For those of you who wonder why we don’t use Yap Tracker: this is one of the reasons.)
Curl up with some hot chocolate. This will take a while.
Lists on the left of the graphics reflect the frequency with which singers included arias in their 4-aria “package.” Lists on the right show how often certain arias were offered as first choices in the audition room.
Verdi, Rossini, Donizetti
BASSES & BASS-BARITONES
Although in some ways, a month-long audition tour can feel like the Groundhog Day movie, there is far more variety than you might think. Yes, there is repetition, most of it necessary. But this fall we heard 326 different arias from our Filene Young Artist applicants. That’s astonishing. Music from four centuries, in seven languages, from hundreds of singers. Comedy, tragedy, beauty, drama. If you’re one of the people who make the music, thank you. If you’re back at Wolf Trap waiting for the fruits of our audition labors, never fear. This was a beautifully strong showing, and we’re culling a fascinating season from a handful of the best singers we heard. Details coming in 2014.
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