February 2016

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Special Report:
Critical Acclaim for Lost in the Stars at WNO!

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Sean Panikkar as the Leader in Lost in the Stars at Washington National Opera, February 2016. (Photo: Karli Cadel).
Lost in the Stars elicited much enthusiasm on its opening at Washington National Opera. Only five performances remain tonight through Saturday. Don’t miss it! Here are highlights from the reviews:

“Weill's choral writing is one of the work's greatest strengths, and it can be fully savored here, especially in ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ and ‘A Bird of Passage’ (which sounds like a subtle, intriguing nod to "O Little Town of Bethlehem").… Lost in the Stars still holds up, as this production reiterates. And it still has something important to say about race, justice, perception, expectation — issues that never seem to dim.” – Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

Lost in the Stars is a fine, crossover American Broadway show/opera that…deserves to be seen and judged by a new generation. An amalgam of singing, dancing and spoken dialog, it is operatic in intent and complexity yet imbued with a good bit of popular Broadway-style songs and attitudes…. [T]he music in this production is very, very good classic Weill, well understood and crisply interpreted by WNO’s orchestra under the steady baton of John DeMain. The singing and acting…is equally distinguished, deftly blending singing and non-singing roles into a harmonious whole.” – Terry Ponick, CommDigiNews.com

“The story speaks so eloquently and tragically to our times in WNO’s production on the Eisenhower Stage, it is a testament to the revelatory power of Lost in the Stars.” – Susan Galbraith, DCTheatreScene.com

“It is also a political play fueled by a large dose of imagination and empathy as well as a heart and a conscience…. The music — some of it transferred deftly and effectively from other projects — is Weill’s, empathic, soaring, powerful and searing, a varied score of genres that speaks with different voices to the fate of its characters…. [T]he production builds brick by emotional brick, operatically at times, dramatically at others, and most effectively, quietly.” – Gary Tischler, Georgetowner

 “[Eric] Owens [as Stephen Kumalo] owns the role with his deep, rich baritone and makes the emotions of Stephen so believable, palpable and heart-wrenching. He shines exceptionally with his delivery on ‘Thousands of Miles’ and ‘The Little Gray House'…. This production shuttles through a range of emotions with dynamic performances, memorable songs and thoughts to ponder about family, the racial divide and how hope and reconciliation are still possible.” – Sarah Hearn, Examiner.com

“Tazewell Thompson’s production of Lost in the Stars – a production that has already run in Cape Town and the Glimmerglass Festival – is a triumphant synthesis of all three elements, not least in the cast who represent the worlds of opera, musical and theater.” – Hilary Stroh, Bachtrack.com

​“This powerfully delivered production, based on Alan Paton’s popular novel, Cry, the Beloved Country, and directed by Tazewell Thompson, re-asserts its prevailing emotional and social relevance for a 2016 Washington, United States, and world…. Lost in the Stars traces a constellation of meaning in a harrowing night sky of injustice, fear and loss.… From pulsing choruses to mournful call and response, this production brazenly leads the audience into the darkest of doubts, but not without offering a much needed glimmer of hope in the promise of reconciliation.” – Derek Schwabe, MDTheatreGuide.com


Lauren Michelle Shines as Irina

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Lauren Michelle as Irina. (Photo: Karli Cadel).
Lauren Michelle, 2015 Lotte Lenya Competition winner, makes her WNO debut and turns heads as Irina:

“When soprano Lauren Michelle, in the guise of the hapless, pregnant Irina, begins the opening verse of ‘Trouble Man’, the otherwise stentorian rhythms of Lost in the Stars suddenly take on a becoming urgency.... Michelle manages to evoke all the gentle and heavier sorrows of this 1949 musical drama, set in a racially torn South Africa that contains echoes of the United States’ own history of racial turmoil.” – Peter Marks, Washington Post

“[S]oprano Lauren Michelle offers exquisite vocalism as Absalom's pregnant girlfriend Irina; her account of ‘Stay Well’ is a peak of lyricism in the production.” – Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun

“A great standout performance must be credited to Lauren Michelle, who plays Irina, Absalom’s pregnant girlfriend. Her character gets the most operatically written ‘arias,’ and Michelle’s singing of ‘Trouble Man’ and the exquisite love song in the second act, ‘Stay Well,’ reveals a singer of pure radiance. Her acting abilities, portraying the young woman’s vulnerability and deference to her future father-in-law in her first scene then building both in power and heartbreak as she is torn forever from making a life with Absalom and their child, moved me very deeply.” – Susan Galbraith, DCTheatreScene.com

“Irina’s two numbers are handled beautifully by soprano Lauren Michelle, who manages to find an appropriate straighter Broadway style without sacrificing an imposing sound.” – Alex Baker, Parterre.com

“Soprano Lauren Michelle shines brightly in her portrayal of a heavily burdened Irina. Her soft but penetrating voice singlehandedly carries the full emotional heft of this story to the very back row, especially in ‘Trouble Man’ and ‘Stay Well’.” – Derek Schwabe, MDTheatreGuide.com

“[Lauren Michelle’s] voice is pure as a bell in ‘Trouble Man’ and ‘Stay Well’ and her acting…is as tender as the flower she resembles.” – Ravelle Brickman, DCMetroTheatreArts.com
Special Ticket Offer for E-news Subscribers!
Special offer from the Washington National Opera for KWF e-News subscribers: 20% off tickets to Washington National Opera’s Lost in the Stars!* Order online here.

​*Offer available for performances of Lost in the Stars on 2/12, 2/16, 2/17, 2/18, and 2/19 at 7:30 p.m. and 2/20 at 1:30 p.m. only. Offer subject to availability. Not valid in combination with any other offer. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. Offer may be withdrawn at any time. Service fees may apply.

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Eric Owens as Stephen Kumalo. 
​Photo credit: William M. Brown