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Anne Midgette and Charles T. Downey, At ‘Don Giovanni’ and other outdoor performances, storm is a show-stopper (Washington Post, July 2, 2012)
Don Giovanni survived at Wolf Trap on Friday night. There was thunder and lightning, to be sure, but those special effects accompanied not a descent into hell but the storms that passed overhead and wiped out the power just as Olivia Vote, a young mezzo, was gearing up to begin Donna Elvira’s aria “Mi tradi” (“He betrayed me”). All that betrayed her, though, were the lights, which flickered and flashed and then went out, leaving Vote standing in darkness.

There were a few bright hopes, voiced from the stage — first by a staffer and then by Kim Witman, the company’s director, illuminated by flashlights and the gentle glow of exit lights powered by the emergency generator — that the power could be gotten up and running again, but after a few minutes the company conceded defeat. “This guy gets to live tonight,” Witman said when she finally dismissed the audience, taking the stage with Craig Irvin, who played Giovanni. Few present had yet realized the magnitude of the storms, or the fact that the show would be silenced for the whole weekend: Sunday’s matinee performance of “Don Giovanni” was also canceled (as was Saturday’s scheduled performance at the Filene Center of “The Pirates of Penzance”). [Continue reading]
The resourceful performer always has a piece or two memorized and ready to play at the drop of a hat. That was the lesson for young musicians to learn on Friday night, when a violent storm swept through Rappahannock County and knocked out power to the Castleton Festival, meaning that resourceful General Director Nancy Gustafson was looking for musicians ready to keep the audience occupied.

Thanks to a small generator that provided power to the festival’s other venue, Theater House, I was able to hear a recital of singers from the Castleton Artists Training Seminar on Saturday afternoon. Like most events of this type, there was admirable promise as well as room for improvement. Big sounds came from baritone Darik Knutsen, with the lusty brindisi from Thomas’s Hamlet, and dramatic soprano Jing Zhang, in a scorching rendition of “Depuis le jour” from Gustave Charpentier’s Louise (in need of more French diction coaching). Bass Brandon Cedel scored high points for his choice of music, with an earnest but earthbound rendition of Mahler’s song Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen. His performance of Purcell’s “Arise, ye subterranean winds,” Prospero’s aria from The Tempest, roared and rattled in imitation of the previous night’s tempest.

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