From Gershwin to grand opera, four members of the Washington Opera will display their vocal versatilities Saturday. Soprano Sheryl Woods, mezzo-soprano Mimi Lerner, tenor Jonathon Green and baritone Jeff Welles are featured in the second event of the George Mason University International Arts Festival, at 2 p.m. in the Harris Theatre.
In the first half of the program, each of the artists will sing a favorite aria and then together they will perform the quartet from "Rigoletto." The second half of the concert will feature Broadway hits.
"We didn't want a traditional operatic evening," says festival coordinator and faculty member Stephen Burton. "Popular music is another genre of American music, and it has contributed to musical history."
The purpose of the festival is to "get general students involved with the arts," says Burton. "We want to get the university and the community in Fairfax exposed to first-rate artists."
The festival consists of music, dance and drama, and about half of the performing artists are from outside the United States. Burton says, "It's very important to expose the students to other countries and cultures . . . We are obligated as an educational institution."
Adds Burton, "It's something a lot of younger universities haven't done -- to be a patron of the arts as well as just teaching them."