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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Semi-staged at Kennedy Center

I'm in Washington DC directing a "semi-staged" concert called "The Essential Puccini" for Julian Wachner's Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center on Sunday, November 8th.  Okay, the plug is done!

Julian (with just a wee bit of help from me) has assembled a REALLY terrific cast.  It is a monster of a program as well:

Boheme, Act Two with Jill Gardner as Musetta.  Jill is simply a Rock Star -- such an amazing voice and a true stage animal (as Tito Capobianco used to say).  Jill then sings the best live version of "O mio babbino caro" that I've heard, followed by John Marcus Bindel's awesome Coat Aria; then there's the Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut followed by Puccini's 20-something attempt at a Gloria (with the wildest use of sequence in a fugue I've heard).


Then comes Turandot Act One -- up to the entrance of P, P, & P; then a cut to the beginning of Act Two, scene Two and all the way through to the end of that act.  Carl Tanner rips one out of the park as Calaf and Othalie Graham is SIMPLY THE MOST REMARKABLE TURANDOT I've heard in a long, long, while.  The loudest, easiest high Cs out there folks.  Get her now, really!  

The encore is Carl singing "Nessun dorma" with a cut at the end that takes you to the choral finale of the show that is genuinely inspired (Kudos to Julian Wachner for that one!).  It should be the cut everybody takes in an opera highlights concert, if they've got a chorus to sing it.
And boy does Julian have a chorus.  They do a great job with all of the varied scores, and styles.

My job is to give the entrances and exits shape; manage the 80 kids in the children's chorus (and yes some are onstage with Parpignol, and we're doing a big ol' procession down the aisles of the Kennedy Center for their Act Two Turandot entrance -- complete with lit paper lanterns from the Montreal Botanical Garden.) Instead of Cafe Momus, we're at a Momus Martini bar -- so the waiter will serve only Martinis - which look classier in tuxes and gowns.  There's a live dog for Musetta, some play with Mo. Wachner's hair on the podium during "Quando m'en vo", a bit of a parade at the end.  Turandot is easy: Get them in, let them sing, get them out.

Along the way I've got an 8am lighting session before the dress rehearsal, will try to take in a White House tour, and have to get to the National Geographic building's Terra Cotta Chinese Warrior exhibit to get some cool souvenirs.

If you're around DC I'd say buy a ticket to this, but I'm told they are going to be SOLD OUT!