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.
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
Financial Times said Erin “wields a soprano of radiance, pristine
beauty, and tingling top notices…she made us believe every word.”
Erin has run 2 marathons, 10 half-marathons, and countless 10ks and 5ks.
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,
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Meet our two talented angels in WNO’s heartwarming family opera!
Kylee, 11, makes her WNO debut with The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me. She’s loved singing and music ever since she started talking, and has performed in area musical theater productions and vocal recitals since she was four years old. Two of her favorite songs to sing are “The Lonely Goatherd” (The Sound of Music) and “Quiet” (Matilda). When she’s not performing, Kylee loves writing, reading, swimming, and arts & crafts.
Holden, 13, made his WNO debut in 2017 as the title character in The Little Prince. Holden says that performing is “exhilarating, because I get to become a different character.” He enjoys a wide variety of songs and plays the clarinet in his school’s symphonic band. In his spare time, he likes to play ultimate Frisbee.
“Hometown favorite” (Washington Post) Soloman Howard returns to D.C. to reprise the title role of Lion in The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me. Soloman is an alum of the Manhattan School of Music and Morgan State University and a 2014 graduate of our Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. He was last seen on the WNO stage as The King in 2017’s Aida.
Soloman has performed on opera stages around the world, from The Metropolitan Opera to Teatro Real de Madrid. Now he’s back to display his “magical voice” (Washingtonian) as the brash but endearing lion.
WNO’s American Opera Initiative (AOI) is a comprehensive commissioning program that provides emerging composers and librettists with mentorship and opportunities to write for the opera stage. AOI’s mission is to ensure the future of contemporary American opera, and we’re succeeding! Washington National Opera is very proud to have two of its original AOI commissions, An American Solder (2014) and Proving Up (2018), selected by the New York Times as “The Best of Classical Music 2018” for individual productions held nationally this past year. Click to read the full article.