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February 25, 2011

Chesapeake Chamber Opera presents Gounod's 'Romeo et Juliette'

This weekend's pileup of operatic activity means that you're bound to find something you like. It also means that I can't get to all of it. And that explains why I slipped out of the office Thursday to catch a little of the dress rehearsal for Chesapeake Chamber Opera's presentation of "Romeo et Juliette," one of the things I'll be missing. Performances are Saturday and Sunday.

Gounod's take on the Shakespeare tragedy has much to offer (I rather like it more than "Faust," but there's no accounting for taste). The determined Chesapeake organization has rounded up some good talent from the area and beyond.

Judging by the rehearsal, the essential roles of the doomed lovers have been ably cast. Jennifer Edwards and William Davenport have demonstrated their vibrant voices on other occasions around town, and they sound like they've got plenty of vibrancy on tap for this production (directed by Jacob Feldman).

What I found missing on Thursday was tonal subtlety; I wanted to hear gentler, sweet sounds from both young artists. Still, the lyrical intensity they summoned was quite impressive, and it was matched by their colleagues.

I especially admired the beefy bass voices of Jeffrey Tarr (as Frere Laurent) and Terrance Brown (as Juliette's father). From my brief visit, I was also noted the flexible conducting of Rolando Sanz and the colorful playing of pianist Matthew Ganong.

Memorial Episcopal in Bolton Hill makes a fitting venue for the work; the church's pulpit fills in neatly for Juliette's balcony and the altar does nicely as, well, an altar for the marriage ceremony.


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:13 PM | | Comments (2)


Oh my goodness, everyone should drop everything and get themselves to the 3pm Sunday performance of this if it's at all possible! These kids are incredible! The voices, the acting, the power of the ensemble! WOW!

By the way, I completely agree with your comments about Jeffrey Tarr (as Frere Laurent) and Terrance Brown (as Juliette's father).and the flexible conducting of Rolando Sanz and the colorful playing of pianist Matthew Ganong.

But you didn't mention Brent Reilly Turner as Mercutio. What a wonderful voice, and beautifully acted. This guy had the entire audience madly in love with the character from the moment he walks on the stage.

Thanks for the report. (I only heard a portion of the rehearsal.) TS

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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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