Scott Hendricks, Marjorie Owens, and Michelle DeYoung in Aida, Wolf Trap Opera, 2015 (photo by Kim Witman)
You give birth to children, and you raise them with such care, keeping them safe and guarding their every step, until they grow up and become their own people. And after all that, can they even be bothered to call or visit once in a while? One can imagine the maternal guilt trip that Wolf Trap Opera could lay on the many singers launched by its young artist program over the years. Every once in a while, one of the kids comes home to visit, as Alan Held did in 2006, but the concert performance of Verdi's Aida on Friday night in the Filene Center, featuring four of the company's distinguished alumni, will hopefully become a tradition. In other words, all you distinguished Wolf Trap Alumni, be good and come home to see your mother once in a while.
Verdi, Aida, M. Caballé, P. Domingo, New Philharmonia Orchestra, R. Muti
The four lead singers, all graduates of the Wolf Trap apprentice program, have made strong impressions in Washington in recent years. Soprano Marjorie Owens could project over the huge ensembles but also sing with delicate pianissimo at crucial points for the role ("Numi, pietà" and "O patria mia"). In those exquisite moments of Verdi soprano suffering, as the libretto puts it, Owens's pain was indeed sacred ("il suo dolor mi è sacro," as Amneris puts it), something meant for delectation. Tenor Carl Tanner was a brilliant, heroic Radamès, not a singer known necessarily for subtlety (no mincing about with the final B-flat of Celeste Aida, for example), but with enough forza to match Owens step for step. Baritone Scott Hendricks played Amonasro with savage snarl, chewing the non-existent scenery with his over-acting but leaving no doubt as to the character's passion.
Anne Midgette, Wolf Trap Opera brings back alumni for big-gun ‘Aida’ (Washington Post, July 27)
Emily Cary, ‘Aida’ tenor Carl Tanner returns to D.C., where he started trucking and bounty hunting careers (Washington Times, July 22)
Conductor Daniele Callegari led a strong performance at the podium of the National Symphony Orchestra, with lovely divisi strings in the introduction to Act I and strong solos from oboe and clarinet. Four trumpeters came out to the edge of the stage, with long ceremonial trumpets, for the famous triumphal march, which was a nice touch. Members of Julian Wachner's Washington Chorus were well prepared for the choral parts of the score, both suave and bombastic. The weather had turned out cool and dry, so it was surprising not to see the lawn seating full of wine-sipping spectators.
The National Symphony Orchestra and Wolf Trap Opera will be back for one more performance this summer, a staging of Puccini's Madama Butterfly (August 7), in the Filene Center.