Thursday, July 16, 2015

Patrick McCoy, A historic Ariadne: sopranos follow in the footsteps of Battle and Norman [Othalie Graham & Shawnette Sulker with Michael Morgan]

July 15, 2015

Patrick McCoy
D.C. Performing Arts Examiner

Perhaps not since the historic appearance by sopranos Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle have opera audiences seen two sopranos of color in Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" at the same time.

On March 12, 1988, two of the most celebrated sopranos in the opera world sang at the famed Metropolitan Opera House in Strauss' “Ariadne auf Naxos.” It was nearly 27 years ago that renowned African-American sopranos Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle sang the roles of Ariadne and Zerbinetta respectively under the baton of James Levine. Perhaps for the first time since that now historic performance, two sopranos of color stepped into those very same roles.
Sopranos Othalie Graham and Shawnette Sulker joined famed conductor Michael Morgan in recent semi-stage performances with Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, California. Both principal leads and the conductor all being artists of color is certainly a crowning achievement worthy of mentioning. No stranger to the Washington performing arts scene, soprano Othalie Graham first came to our attention through her many appearances in concert with The Washington Chorus with conductor Julian Wachner at The Kennedy Center. She shared with us her thoughts about her recent performances of Ariadne and the lasting impression soprano Jessye Norman had on her in the title role.
“Seeing Jessye Norman when I was young in Opera News looking regal in her Ariadne costumes was simply awe inspiring for me. To see this black woman look like a queen was an image I could never forget. 

Comment by email:
Thank you so much Mr. Zick!  Best,  Othalie  [Othalie Graham]

No comments: