What do four Washington Opera singers do on a free Saturday afternoon? They give a program of arias, songs and comment at George Mason University. Relaxed and informal, they had a good time, and they included the audience.
What the audience really got were not so much the songs as the singers: soprano Sheryl Woods, mezzo Mimi Lerner, tenor Jonathan Green, and bass Jeffrey Wells. It was the tough-minded, determined vocal talent that they observed and heard, the convinced talent that is inseparable from the essential nerviness and stamina. It was not perfect or even great singing, but one knew why these singers are working professionals. They are good, reliable, skillful and attractive, and they are comfortable in knowing they are. It is in recognizing these strengths that the Washington Opera emerges as a truly professional company. It is also these qualities which set American singers apart. They are well-trained and fully equipped; they are willing to take professional risks and extend the scope. Their answer to any career question is generally an enthusiastic yes.
There were two special moments, one when Green did the song from Kurka's "Good Soldier Schweik," the other when Lerner did two songs by Jacques Brel. These were both good singing and great theater, joining the control of the voice to the dramatic demands.
William Huckaby was the excellent pianist and the musical glue that held the program together.