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October 25, 2010

NEA Opera Honors

The 2010 recipients of the NEA Opera Honors were saluted for "their exceptional contributions to opera in America" Friday night at the Kennedy Center during a ceremony that was "called to order" by Supreme Court Justice and devoted opera fan Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Naturally, we in Baltimore are particularly pleased that native son Philip Glass was among the celebrated.


The composer has been shaking up operatic conventions for decades, both with his unmistakable brand of minimalism and his eclectic choice of subject matter.

The finale of his stunning "Satyagraha" was performed bytenor Sean Panikkar during Friday's ceremony, a cooperative production of the NEA, Washington National Opera and Opera America. Metropolitan Opera artistic manager Sarah Billinghurst presented the award to Glass.

Fans of opera singing had to be heartened to see soprano

Martina Arroyo in the select group as well; her sumptuous tone and vibrant personality made her one of the most exciting vocal artists of her time. And it's great to see that she's passing along her wisdom to new generations through the efforts of her Martina Arroyo Foundation. Notable jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera presented the award to Arroyo; soprano Tamara Wilson sang an aria from Verdi's Ernani.

Also on the honors was Eve Queler, who has championed many a neglected opera and many a rising vocal artist as music director of the Opera Orchestra of New York, and David DiChiera, whose imaginative direction of various companies, particularly Michigan Opera Theatre, has earned him industry-wide admiration.


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:44 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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