From the Desk of Artistic Director Jonathan Pell – DC II

by Jonathan Pell

After a day of meetings, I attended a free concert at the Kennedy Center at 6:00 p.m. with some of the singers from the Washington National Opera’s young artists program and three of the cover singers who had been engaged to stand by for the current productions playing in repertory. The Kennedy Center sponsors these short 45 minute concerts 365 days a year, and includes performers from all the various disciplines. Tonight just happened to be opera.

Then at 7:00 (I guess Washington is an “early to bed” sort of town) I attended a new production of Bellini’s NORMA. It starred Angela Meade in her first stage performances of this iconic role (she had previously sung it in concert a couple of summers ago at Caramoor) and Dolora Zajick. The two of them were vocally well matched and their stunning duets were a highlight of the evening.

The production itself was a rather dull grey unit set, and was statically staged. Part of that is the opera itself, which is difficult because it lacks something dramatically, but Bellini’s music is ravishing. Young conductor Daniele Rustioni (he’s still only 29) led a masterful performance and really kept the piece moving without rushing, and still allowed his two heroines the time they needed to sing beautifully.

It was wonderful to hear how far Angela Meade has come. It was only a few seasons ago that she was in Dallas singing Queen Elizabeth in our school matinee performances of ROBERTO DEVEREUX, and now she’s here singing NORMA and was in the Metropolitan Opera’s HD transmission of ERNANI last year. I wonder if all the kids who came to see her in Dallas in those DEVEREUX performances realize just how lucky they were to see her?

I head back to Dallas in the morning, and am eager to check up on how rehearsals are going for TURANDOT and ASPERN PAPERS which both open in a few weeks!

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