Capital Fringe Festival: ‘Divas Just Want to Have Fun!’
By Charles Downey
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
How many sopranos does it take to screw in a light bulb? As the old joke goes — and there were so many to choose from — it takes two: one to screw in the light bulb and the other to say she could have done it better.
On Tuesday night, it took 7 Sopranos, a local collective of high-voiced women in matching red gowns, to perform a perky, not-too-annoying faux recital called “Divas Just Want to Have Fun!” on the stage in the basement of the Mount Vernon United Methodist Church.
Surprisingly, for a concept intended to play on the stereotype of sopranos as spotlight-craving showboats, there were few vocal pyrotechnics and even fewer soaring high notes. Indeed, it was a program that did not show off powerful solo voices as much as put an ensemble spin on some of the most famous chestnuts of the soprano repertory. The most beautiful individual sounds came from Bharati Soman, who also had the most refined diction in the group, followed by Nicole Lamm, who had the strongest, most piercing high notes. Angeli Ferrette, a product of Duke Ellington School of the Arts, displayed the most agile high range in the “Italian Street Song” from Victor Herbert’s “Naughty Marietta.”
The concert’s best moments were those pieces, originally solos, arranged for the ensemble, such as the unaccompanied choral versions of Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” and the traditional melody “Down to the River to Pray.” The most effective of these arrangements was one by Soman, which combined Gershwin’s “Summertime” with the spiritual “Motherless Child.” Sophia Kim Cook was a steadying presence at the piano, covering for at least one singer’s early entrance.