Catch Opera’s Rising Stars in this Free Performance of THE CONSUL

Dear Friends,

If you love great singing and engrossing drama – if you relish the thought of seeing and hearing some of America’s top young opera singers up close – I’m going to ask you to stop reading this note right now and mark your calendars for Sunday, February 16th, 4:00 pm, Hylton Performing Arts Center’s intimate Gregory Family Theater.  When you come back to this page, I’ll tell you why.

This January I have had the intense pleasure of participating, as an observer and occasional helper-outer, in the Washington National Opera / Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program’s production of Giancarlo Menotti’s THE CONSUL, directed by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello.  Ms. Zambello is widely regarded as one of the leading opera stage directors in the world, with notable productions at The Met, La Scala, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Paris Opera, the Bolshoi, Munich State Opera, Covent Garden and the Australian Opera among other houses.

To sit in the room as she creates theatrical magic from the hard-hitting and poetic text (written and sung in English) and ravishing score that has echoes of Puccini, Barber, and Shostakovich, but is distinctively and unmistakably Menotti, has been a post-graduate master class in opera direction.  The amazing young professional singers, some of whom you will recognize if you joined us last spring for our beautiful “Raising Voices” concert in Merchant Hall, are responding with passion and intelligence, and deploying those great, big, beautiful voices in creating rich individual characters that convey the wide range of emotions that Menotti requires, from comic to sardonic to ironic to rueful to ruthless to tragic.  This performance continues the developing collaboration between George Mason University and the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist program, and we’re proud to note that former Mason Opera student Will Meinert is a DCYA this season and is performing a key role in The Consul. 

Ms. Zambello has adapted the work to a brisk but very complete 65 minutes, and the project is a “studio” scale production, with excellent costumes and props and only minimal scenery. This means that the show can travel between the Kennedy Center’s new addition, The Reach, where we premiered on Saturday, Feb. 1st, to a private performance at and for the Supreme Court (!) on Feb. 13th, to our own Hylton Center on Feb. 16th at 4:00 (have you saved the date yet?), and finally back to DC later in April at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.

Tickets are very reasonably priced in operatic terms: they’re free.  So I would advise jumping on to the Hylton Center website and reserving your seats now!

I’ve seldom been so excited about a production that we are bringing to you.  I can’t recommend this highly or enthusiastically enough.  I hope to see you there!

Rick Davis

Dean, George Mason University College of Visual and Performing Arts
Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center