The “opera man” down the street gives an impromptu lesson

A rumor was spreading among Park View’s neighborhood kids: there was an “opera man” down the street.

That “opera man” is tenor David Cangelosi, who is residing in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood during his run as Spoletta in WNO’s Tosca. “ In Park View, “this particular street has a very deep mix of residents,” David said. “Their parents work to see they have broad cultural exchanges.”

So David decided to teach a singing lesson. Six children and their parents happily gathered in a local home for dinner, conversation, and music.

Children from Park View, D.C. take turns feeling David Cangelosi’s larynx and diaphragm during a singing lesson.

 “I got right down on the floor with them,” David said. “We spent about 45 minutes learning ‘the basics.’ Then we sang the first line of ‘Recondita armonia’ from Tosca…complete with translation and Italian language training.”

The evening continued with food and wines from around the world.

After a full day of Tosca rehearsals, David admitted he was exhausted leading up to the gathering.

“But these little tykes brought me right back to life,” he said.

Keri Alkema | Meet the Artists

Soprano. Title role in Tosca (5/11, 14, 17, 20, 22, 25)

Keri Alkema is an alumna of the first-ever graduating class of our Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. With her “rich, full vocal presence” (Toronto Star), Keri has in demand at the world’s top opera houses.

Keri takes on a role she has performed to great acclaim at distinguished companies including English National Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Frankfurt, and Palm Beach Opera. Of her portrayal of Tosca at Orlando Philharmonic, Keri was praised for her “songbird tone with exceptional warmth” (Examiner.com).

Fun fact: Keri shifted from mezzo to soprano repertoire following her portrayal of Donna Elvira in New York City Opera’s Don Giovanni. Her first Puccini role as a soprano was Mimì in La bohème.

Listen to Keri discuss her portrayal of Tosca for Canadian Opera Company:

Visit Keri’s Facebook or website for more information.

Ethan McSweeny | Meet the Artists

Director of Tosca, D.C. native

Known internationally for his elaborate re-imaginings of Shakespeare works, D.C. favorite McSweeny returns to WNO to direct Puccini’s striking Tosca. Ethan made his WNO debut directing the world premiere of Better Gods in 2016’s American Opera Initiative Festival.

Prior to his current role as artistic director at the American Shakespeare Center, Ethan served as associate director to D.C.’s own Shakespeare Theatre Company. He has directed award-winning opera, film, Broadway, and theater works, including the 2018 Helen Hayes-winning Twelfth Night at Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Ethan has been celebrated for his “probing intellect” and “dazzling staging” (Forbes), with productions “so sharp it’s like seeing a play in live high def” (The Washington Post).

Watch a clip of 2016’s Better Gods, of which DC Theatre Scene praised Ethan for directing “just right”:

Visit Ethan’s website for more information.

Congratulations, Alexandria Shiner!

Congratulations to Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Alexandria Shiner for winning a prestigious Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation! Named for the wife of acclaimed tenor Richard Tucker, the grant is gifted to young American artists at the start of their professional endeavors.

Alexandria continues to garner critical acclaim for her “blazing soprano” (Wall Street Journal) and “powerful soprano voice” (Washington Classical Review). She returned to the DCYA program for the 2018–19 season, appearing under Lidiya Yankovskaya’s leadership as Kayla in the world premiere production of Kamala Sankaram’s Taking Up Serpents. As Berta in the DCYA performance of The Barber of Seville, Alexandria “unexpectedly brought down the house with the strength and clarity of her impressive voice” (MD Theatre Guide). Alexandria made her WNO debut in title role of Handel’s Alcina in the DCYA performance, and has performed with Knoxville Opera, Marble City Opera, Opera Naples, and more.

Erin Wall | Meet the Artists

Soprano. Marguerite in Faust.

Canadian soprano Erin makes her eagerly awaited return to WNO after portraying Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in 2007. She has performed leading roles at many of the world’s greatest opera companies, including The Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opéra National de Paris, and the Vienna Staatsoper.

Of her performance of the title role in Thaïs, Financial Times said Erin “wields a soprano of radiance, pristine beauty, and tingling top notices…she made us believe every word.”

Fun fact: Erin has run 2 marathons, 10 half-marathons, and countless 10ks and 5ks.

Listen to Erin sing in Don Giovanni and discuss how she manages technical challenges.

Follow Erin on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit her website for more information.

Marcelo Puente | Meet the Artists

Tenor. Title role in Faust.

Hailing from Argentina, Marcelo makes his WNO debut after engagements at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Oper Stuttgart, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Hamburg State Opera, State Opera Prague, and more.

The in-demand tenor studied at the Córdoba Conservatory and Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, with Renato Sassola. Other roles in his developing repertoire include Turridu in Cavalleria Rusticana, Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur, and Calaf in Turandot.

Fun fact: If Marcelo could pick three opera characters to have dinner with, he says he’d discuss love, destiny, politics, songs, and poetry with Manrico (Il trovatore), Don Alvaro (La forza del destino), and Radames (Aida).

Listen to Marcelo sing in Il Trovatore.

Igor Golovatenko | Meet the Artists

Baritone. Title role in Eugene Onegin.

A leading baritone at Bolshoi Opera, Igor has portrayed the charismatic Onegin around the world, wooing audiences at Teatro San Carlo di Napoli to Novaya Opera Theatre.

Igor’s WNO debut as Onegin marks his U.S. debut—the first of many stateside performances to come in his exploding career. Igor is a former soloist with Moscow’s Novaya Opera and winner of the 2008 St. Petersburg “Three Centuries of Classical Romance” competition.

His prior engagements include Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor at the Cologne Opera, Germont in La traviata at Glyndebourne Festival, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and more.

“Tchaikovsky’s music is so moving and so close to the heart that audiences cannot be indifferent, no matter if they are Russian, American or European,” Igor told WNO.

Watch Igor sing Eri Tu from Un Ballo in Maschera.

Anna Nechaeva | Meet the Artists

Soprano. Tatiana in Eugene Onegin.

Anna makes her WNO and U.S. deubt in a role she’s masterfully sung with Mikhailovsky Theatre and in concert with Bolshoi Opera. Most recently, Anna portrayed Tatiana alongside Igor Golovatenko as Onegin at the 2017 Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and the pair reunites again for this production.

The talented soprano was born in Saratov, Russia and made her debut at the Bolshoi Opera in 2012 portraying Nasaya in Tchaikovsky’s The Enchantress. As a soloist at the Bolshoi, Anna’s engagements include Violetta in La traviata, Elisabeth of Valois in Don Carlo, Micaela in Carmen, Amerlia in Un ballo in Maschera, and more.

“I love how Tatiana starts as a sentimental, dreamy girl and becomes a strong woman with moral foundations,” Anna told WNO. “I am reborn with her every time.”

Watch Anna sing Iolanta’s arioso in Iolanta.

WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists PERFORM AT GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) in collaboration with Washington National Opera (WNO) announce Raising Voices, a thrilling new program of opera and musical theater Sunday, April 7 at 4 p.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, featuring the combined talent of WNO’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists and Mason Opera and Vocal Studies students. Raising Voices marks the beginning of a developing partnership between these two important programs, aimed at expanding the support, growth, and opportunities for young opera singers in America. Tickets to Raising Voices are $20 or free with a student I.D. and can be purchased by calling the Hylton Center Box Office at 703-993-7759 or online.

Read more

Tony Winner Jeanine Tesori at WNO Rehearsal

Tony-Award winning composer Jeanine Tesori visited WNO this week as the company rehearses her holiday opera, The Lion, the Unicorn and Me , a work commissioned by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello that originally premiered at the Kennedy Center in 2013. “You never know what’s around the corner.” Jeanine Tesori discusses how a three-year old piano student grew up to be an award-winning composer. 


WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello is directing her revival production when Jeanine stopped by to hang-out with members of the
WNO Children’s Chorus. (Photo credit: Francesca Zambello)

How did you get started in music?
I started playing classical piano when I was three. My piano teacher made sure that I did a lot of improvisation and played in a lot of keys. He would let me play pop music, so I had fluency in many different styles. I learned how to play from a lead sheet, which is what a lot of bands play from. A lead sheet has just one line for the melody, plus an indication of the chord, and I had to fill in the rest—my right hand might stand in for the guitar, my left hand the bass.

When did you know you wanted to be a composer?
Very late. For a long time, I never even knew you could go into music as a career. I thought it was something you did as a hobby. I went to school to study science so that I could be a doctor. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized people could “do” music full-time. When I graduated, I started working as a pianist, then as a conductor, then I wrote music for dance, and then I wrote music for shows. I did all of these things without having any knowledge of what would come next, which just goes to show that you never know what’s around the corner. 

When you are working on a new piece, how do you get started?
The way I work, I like to have the skeleton of an idea to start with. Then it’s my job to add the heart and the soul and the brain. Hopefully you come up with a person—I think of my shows like people—you can put into the world and watch walk away. Sometimes it may stumble, and sometimes it actually takes flight. Francesca Zambello, who is the director of the show, brought me this book—The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me—and I loved it immediately. It was a story I thought I knew, but retold from the vantage point of someone very small. As grownups, we sometimes forget what it’s like to be so small. When my daughter was younger, I always appreciated when people would get down on their knees to talk to her, because otherwise all she ever saw was kneecaps. In this story, you have this small child, this small animal, and this mother, and in a way, they are all carrying each other, all protecting each other.

What was it like to create music for so many different kinds of characters—humans, an angel, and an ark’s worth of animals?
Sometimes I will go to an opera in another language and realize that, even though I don’t know what the words mean, I can understand everything I need, just because of the music. I wanted that to be true for my animals, too. For the Lion, I chose a bass clarinet, which sounds deep and scary, and I used the harp in a way that made it sound like an African thumb piano. For the Unicorn, I thought of the harp in a different way—celestial and mysterious, like it might vanish at any moment. I also used a celesta, which looks like a piano but has bells inside. It has a magical sound. The Donkey’s music has a very plodding, patient quality. For the Flamingo, and especially the Cat, I had a lot of fun looking at videos on YouTube to see all the funny things these animals did, and I tried to put that kind of personality into the music.

What advice do you have for a young person interested in pursuing a career in music?
Try to step away from the computer as much as possible. Listen to as much different music as you can, and go to hear music live as much as you can. The things that happen in real time are so different than things that are recorded. It is different to be in the room with a musician, or with a teacher, or to be in a church, or in a sports arena. Things happen when we are together, and then they go away. We need to cherish those moments in our lives that can’t be played back by hitting a button. They can only be played back in your mind’s eye, which is an important thing for an artist—for
anyone—to develop.

—Kelley Rourke

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