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WNO Young Artists and Their Russian Friends

Tenor Sergey Radchenko (photo courtesy of Askonas Holt)
For the third year in a row, Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program has undertaken an exchange of its young singers with young artists in a similar training program at the Bolshoi Opera. After sending a few of its charges to Moscow, WNO has hosted a few Russian singers here in Washington the last couple weeks, and on Monday night the Russian Embassy presented a concert by six of these singers. A young voice can change so much in the early years of formation that it is reckless to make predictions about where a singer might go, but here are a few impressions.

The Bolshoi tenor Sergey Radchenko stood out, and not only because tenors are the rarest vocal creatures. He had impressive agility in "Let not fame the tidings spread," from Handel's Hercules, complete with an ornately ornamented repeat of the A section of the aria. Ringing high notes were featured in his Cherry Duet, from Mascagni's L'amico Fritz, with soprano María Antúnez, and power and stage presence in the rousing folk song Korobeyniki. Antúnez, from Uruguay, is a striking and beautiful young woman, who has a viscous, mezzo-leaning voice and good acting instincts, displayed as Tatyana in an excerpt from the Letter Scene of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. Russian bass Oleg Tsybulko had a throaty sound, at its best in a Tchaikovsky song ("O, if only you could," op. 38/4) that showed him at his most musical. Armenian soprano Nina Minasyan shone most brightly in Rachmaninoff's beautiful song "Do Not Sing, My Beauty" (op. 4/4), while the showpiece Conduisez-moi vers celui que j'adore, from Offenbach's Robinson Crusoe was perhaps a bite too big for her to chew, with some strained sounds in the cadenza. Chilean baritone Javier Arrey had a nice turn in the Prince's aria "Ya vas lyublyu" from Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades, with a forceful sound at the top of his voice. Bass Soloman Howard impressed with a largeness of tone in Gremin's aria from Eugene Onegin, although a few uncertainties were heard at the top.

WNO's opera season comes to an end next Monday, with a concert performance by soprano Diana Damrau (April 8, 8 pm), in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater.

Anne Midgette, Domingo-Cafritz apprentice program starts young opera stars on bumpy path (Washington Post, April 6)

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