Jonathan Pell, Summer of Opera, Part 15

by Megan Meister

Glimmerglass Opera House

Yesterday was packed with auditions and performances which had me rushing from one event to another, but the grey and gloomy cloud cover had finally lifted and the sun came out, and the weather was beautiful.

The morning started with auditioning twelve more of the Glimmerglass Apprentice Artists (only one of whom captured my attention) and then I attended the matinee of Cherubini’s rarely revived opera MEDEA.  This is a piece closely identified with Maria Callas, and was first presented by the Dallas Opera (then the Dallas Civic Opera) in 1958, with the legendary Greek soprano in the title role and company co-founder Nicola Rescigno in the pit.

Glimmerglass found a worthy successor for this incredibly demanding role in Alexandra Deshorties, who you may remember opened the Winspear Opera House as “Desdemona” in Verdi’s OTELLO.   The role of MEDEA requires extraordinary vocal technique and endless reserves of stamina because once the character appears  part way through the first act, she virtually never leaves the stage. Alexandra was riveting to watch and the command she exerted over her instrument was extraordinary.

In the pit was a dynamic young Italian maestro named Daniele Rustioni, and I venture to say that we will all be hearing a great deal more about him in the future.

I was invited to a picnic dinner before the evening performance arranged by Christina Scheppelmann, director of artistic operations for the Washington National Opera and some of her colleagues, which was really lovely.

The performance last night was a real treat--a production of Irving Berlin’s ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, starring Deborah Voigt and Rod Gilfry.  I was sitting with Rod’s wife, Tina, and I think we enjoyed the performance almost as much as the two stars, who obviously relished doing something so completely different from their usual repertoire. Afterward, Debbie Voigt confessed to me that singing “Brunnhilde” might be slightly more rewarding, but not nearly as much fun.

The rest of the young artists sing for me this morning, then a matinee of CARMEN at 1:30, and then a special cabaret performance at 5:00 p.m. with Rod Gilfry and his daughter, Carin, who happens to be one of this summer’s Apprentice Artists.

Another full day…

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