J.M.W. Turner's "Chichester Canal" at the Tate Gallery, London

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On a High Note

Story from the Chronogram on the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice.

The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will be held on July 30-August 3
  • The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice will be held on July 30-August 3
When the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice returns to the Catskills this July, it will have raised the bar—about two octaves higher.
Celebrating its fifth season this year, the festival welcomes countertenor Brian Asawa to its mainstage. Asawa is one of the world's foremost countertenors, having brought his powerful, flexible, and impressively high vocal range to such world-class venues as the Metropolitan Opera, the Palais Garnier in Paris, and Madrid's Teatro Real. Capable of singing within typically female vocal registers—contralto, mezzo-soprano, and sometimes even soprano—countertenors are today relatively rare. The festival will feature Asawa in this summer's edition of "Voices of Distinction," a program of some of the most exceptional vocal works of the Baroque period. The artist will also host a free lecture titled "The Art of I'castratti," in which he will discuss the historic, long-abandoned practice of castrating young singers as well as the vocal aesthetic of a modern countertenor.
Another high note of the festival, and an accent of this year's Spanish theme, will be a staging of Gioachino Rossini's "The Barber of Seville." Based on Pierre Beaumarchais's comic French play of the same name, the opera buffa is one of the most popular and widely performed operas in the world—few today can hear its overture without Bugs Bunny coming to mind. Festival Executive Director Maria Todaro and internationally acclaimed baritone and Phoenicia newcomer Lucas Meachem will top the bill, singing the principle roles of the beautiful Rosina and the clever Figaro.

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