Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 14

by Megan Meister

The apprentice auditions yesterday were the first of three sessions.   I heard eleven singers, and will hear another group this morning and the rest tomorrow.  Since these young singers are involved in all the productions in the festival, they are only available in the mornings because there are matinees every afternoon this weekend.

Also hearing the young artists were colleagues from Washington National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia and Palm Beach Opera, as well as several artist’s managers.  We are all ” talent scouting” hoping to discover the next generation of great singers.

While most of the young singers presented themselves very well, only two, a soprano and a baritone, really captured my imagination. That is actually a remarkably good showing, and I look forward to hearing more of them later this morning.

At 3:00 p.m. Deborah Voigt debuted her new cabaret act,  “Voigt Lessons” in which she recounted the story of her life and sang pop songs, art songs, hymns and arias, all illustrating her career path.
It was an extraordinarily brave thing to do.   She pulled no punches and talked candidly about her complicated relationships with her family, her eating disorder and her battle with alcoholism.  It was sometimes painful to hear her talk so openly about her struggles, but she was never self indulgent and retained a wicked sense of humor throughout the performance.   The musical selections ran the gamut from Baptist hymns (she started singing in a church choir) through songs from Broadway musicals she sang in High School, like L’IL ABNER and THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and made it all the way to the tenor aria “Nessun dorma” from TURANDOT (don’t ask—you’ll just have to see the show…)

Last night was an interesting double bill of one act operas, LATER THE SAME EVENING by John Musto and Mark Campbell, based on the anonymous people who appear in five paintings by Edward Hopper and A BLIZZARD ON MARBLEHEAD NECK, by Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner, taken from an episode from the life of the great American playwright Eugene O’Neill.

The Hopper piece had charm, but the O’Neill story was much more interesting to me.  The confrontation between O’Neill and his third wife, Carlotta Monterey, arguing over the thermostat while a blizzard rages outside, was stunning, and was wonderfully performed by bass David Pittsinger and his real life wife soprano Patricia Schuman.  It was beautifully staged by Francesca Zambello, Glimmerglass’s new general and artistic director, in an evocative set by Erhard Rom.

More tomorrow…

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