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WNO's Young Talents Are Filled With Promise

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Most of the classical music world may be asleep in mid-July, but Washington National Opera is hard at work laying the foundation for the future of opera. Once again teaming with Summer Opera Theatre Company, WNO's Opera Institute for Young Singers hosted a group of talented high school students. Coming together from the Washington area and across the country, they received three weeks of intensive coaching in vocal technique, pronunciation, acting, deportment and professional preparation.

The institute presented a score of the most accomplished young singers in recital at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage on Monday evening. All of the performers showed grace beyond their years, but a few stood out as especially noteworthy. Emily Barnash, a 16-year-old soprano from Florida, had a large lyric voice with exceptional promise, displaying a strong top, sure intonation and refined pianissimo in a Giovanni Paisiello aria. Her turn in a duet scene from Otto Nicolai's "Merry Wives of Windsor" also showed a natural comic sense and personal ease onstage.

Sopranos Rolyndria Anderson, from Lanham, and Katrina Tammaro, from Pennsylvania, sang with sweetness and purity of tone in Italian art songs. Kudos to the organizers for ending the recital with a quintet from Douglas Moore's underrated American opera "The Ballad of Baby Doe." It featured four venomous gossips hissing at soprano Ann Marie Theis, from East Lansing, Mich., as Augusta Tabor. Pianist and coach Alice Mikolajewski narrated and played with assurance and musicality.

-- Charles T. Downey

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