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June 16, 2010

Midweek musical moment from Mozart's 'Zaide' (and a way for me to buy time)

I got back from Toronto Tuesday just in time to trek to Virginia for a rare production of Mozart's "Zaide" by Wolf Trap Opera. I'll have more to say about this imaginative venture as soon as I catch my breath, but I've got to head out today to do some footwork on a story I'm writing for Sunday's paper.

I don't want you to feel blog post-deprived, though, so I figured I could try to buy your indulgence (and some time) by offering a clip of the exquisite "Ruhe sanft" aria from "Zaide," which I think may be one of the most exquisite of Mozart's many exquisite creations. And this performance, well, it's pretty darn exquisite, too -- Beverly Sills at her peak, luxuriating in a spacious tempo that would never be sanctioned in today's opera world.

This is not to say the aria has to be sung like this, or even that it should be (I'm not immune to historical authenticity). And I hasten to add that soprano Hana Park does a lovely job with it at a brisker pace in the Wolf Trap production. Anyway, I'll get back to that staging as soon as I can.

Meanwhile, please enjoy this midweek musical interlude from the divine Bubbles Silverman:

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:59 AM | | Comments (4)


Great clip. Beverly excelled in rep that had Ruhe Sanft's attributes. We know you're busy, so there's no need to apologize. :)

Thanks. TIM

Looking forward to your review. I saw this on Sunday, my first visit to Wolf Trap Opera, and thought this was an excellent performance.

I'm sure it won't be your last visit. Opera at the Barns is quite addictive, I've found. TIM

Well, if Bubbles' tempo is wrong, then I don't wanna be right!!! ;^)

"Exquisite" indeed. I'm a-gonna go buy the album now. Thanks for the discovery!

Glad you liked it. I've always found that performance mesmerizing. TIM

My wife and I just loved the Zaide at Wolf Trap. Such an intelligent and visceral production, especially within the intimacy of the Barns. One of my best nights in the theatre in years. Made us wonder why the piece isn't done more often.

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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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