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May 21, 2009

Baltimore School for the Arts alumna Stefania Dovhan makes Spoleto Festival debut in rarely staged opera

Stefania DovhanIn the local-girl-makes-good department, note the case of Stefania Dovhan, a Ukraine-born soprano who received some of her early training at the Baltimore School for the Arts and the University of Maryland and who won the 2000 Rosa Ponselle Competition. Dovhan makes her debut at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston on Friday. Not just any old debut, either, but in the title role of Charpentier's Louise, an opera all too rarely staged on these shores.

I remember Dovhan's recital at UM in 2001, which easily revealed her potential. She went on to more study in Europe; she has been based in Germany for the past few years. (Audio/video links are on her Web site.)

She ought to be a natural, physically and vocally, to portray Louise. This opera from 1900 is primarily known for the radiant soprano aria Depuis le jour, a test for any lyric voice, but the whole work, a story of unconventional young love vs. conservative parents amid the rich tapestry of Paris, has quite a lot to recommend it. There will be be four performances of Louise between Friday and June 6.

Incidentally, among the many unfortunate effects of the demise of the Baltimore Opera is that ...


local audiences will not get a chance to hear Dovhan next season. She was to have made her homecoming as Pamina in the company's production of The Magic Flute. Perhaps another operatic organization will provide her an outlet in Baltimore before too long. 

Back to Spoleto for a moment. The Festival remains the country's most enticing and consistently rewarding arts festival, and the 2009 lineup offers numerous enticements. This year marks the final appearance of Charles Wadsworth as host of the popular daily chamber music series. He has decided to retire, at the age of 80, after an amazing 50 years with the festival. The place will never be quite the same without him. 


Posted by Tim Smith at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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